Australia is the world’s driest continent after Antarctica, yet we use more water per person than almost any other nation…
As a result, most of our major towns and cities are facing a severe water shortage. But most of us can probably halve our water consumption with little difficulty, while installing a rainwater tank will provide thousands of litres of free additional water
Australians uses 282 litres of fresh water per person per day. l The average person in a developing country uses 10 litres of water a day, equal to one flush of a non-dual flush toilet. l Homes and gardens account for 12 per cent of water used in Australia. l Only about 1 per cent of Earth’s water is drinkable fresh water, 97 per cent of it in underground aquifers. l In 2004, 16 per cent of households reused or recycled some of their water.
Australian households: water use (home/garden)
Washing machine 13%
Swimming Pool 2%
water: key steps
1. Take shorter showers (not baths) and fit a water efficient showerhead. They cost from about $20. $
2. Install a rainwater tank. Use rainwater falling on your roof for your toilets, washing machine and garden.
3. Toilets. If your toilet isn’t dual-flush, reduce the water it uses by putting a bottle of water in the cistern so it holds less water. You can also buy cheap “cistern converters” that do the same thing. Don’t use a brick; it may crumble and block your system. Best of all, install a composting toilet.
4. Dishes. If you wash dishes by hand, use the plug and don’t wash or rinse with running water. If you use a dishwasher, scrape plates first instead of rinsing them and only run full loads. Buy a water-efficient dishwasher. These use as little as 9 litres per load, while older models can use 90 litres.
5. Washing machine. only run full loads. When replacing it, buy a water-efficient front-loader. Don’t wash clothes that aren’t really dirty. Hanging them for an hour on a clothes line instead will air out stale smells.
6. Taps. Fit aerating taps. They cost just a few dollars and will halve water flow. Turn off taps while cleaning your teeth and put the plug in when washing your hands.
7. Fix drips and leaks. A single dripping tap can waste 12,000 litres a year.
want to do more?
q Get a cover for your pool – a pool can lose 30,000 litres of water a year through evaporation.
q Don’t flush the toilet every time you pee.
q Wash your car with a bucket and sponge, not a hose.
Divert greywater into your garden
If you use natural, phosphate-free soaps and detergents, then you can reuse much of the water from your home on your garden. You can fit greywater recycling systems but all you really need is a bucket. For health reasons you should always use greywater immediately, don’t use it on food or seedlings and don’t allow it to pool on your lawn.
l Dishwasher/washing machine: let the outflow hose drain into a bucket for the final rinse then empty it into the garden, or connect a hose to the outflow and let it drain into the garden, or (get a plumber to) fit a simple greywater diverting device. l Bathroom: use a bucket to collect water from the shower or bath, or a small bucket to catch the initial cold water in washbasins, then empty it into your garden. You can also pour it into the toilet bowl to flush your toilet. l Kitchen: wash vegetables and dishes in a bowl then empty the water into your garden.