‘In an age when we have forgotten our origins and are blind even to our most essential needs for survival, water, along with other resources, has become the victim of our indifference.’
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Consider for a moment the recent global study by international water experts. They found that Australian households held the worst record for water consumption, despite industry and farmers being fairly good at it. When they looked at household water use per person we are not very good.
The average water user in Australia uses 341,000 litres (that’s around eight backyard swimming pools for each person) worth of water each year. The biggest users of water on the driest continent on the planet! What are we thinking?
The closest to us is Canada in a distant second with 279,000 litres per year. The Americans use 217,000 litres per person, the Chinese 26,000 and Bangladesh just 16,000 litres. The world average is 57,000 litres (around one and a half backyard pools).
Should we lift our game? Since the decade long drought has broken Australians were keen to keep the water restrictions that we had all become so used to. But our state governments have largely removed all restrictions so we can pay for the energy intensive de-salination plants they have built.
Using water tanks to capture all the rainfall from our roofs is a great start. Currently all the rainfall on that falls on Australian cities just goes down the drain. The housing industry has stopped the installation of water tanks, solar panels and good design in all new houses becoming law. Why did they do that?
Australian households have been getting better at reducing our overall water consumption. In the early 1990s we were going through 120,000 litres a year. By 2012 we have got it down to 103,000 litres a year.
We can all improve our water efficiency at school and at home. Install water tanks wherever possible, get a toilet with half flush and utilise water-efficient plumbing.
While we are on the subject of toilets, remember this: ‘If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.’ You will be surprised at the ability of the half flush to handle even the biggest poos (our apologies if you’re reading this over your lunch, but it’s important). Try it for yourself, and like they say on the telly: you will save!