‘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, author of Silent Spring
Consider for a moment the recent global study by international water experts Hoekstra and Chapagain. They found that Australians held the record for water consumption.
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 most carefree users of water by a good distance on the driest continent on the planet! What are we thinking?
The closest to us is Canada in 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).
Since the decade long drought has broken Australians were mostly happy to keep the water restrictions that we had all become so used to. But our state governments think so little of us that they have largely removed all restrictions so we use more water 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 various housing industry associations has successfully fought to stop the installation of water tanks in all new houses becoming law. They make claims of added costs to their houses while choosing to ignore cost savings for the entire life of the house. They were so clever they also stopped solar panels and passive design being implemented in all new housing.
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 had got it down to 103,000 litres a year.
The best thing we can all do is improve our water efficiency at school and at home. Simply waste less. Install water tanks where you can, get a toilet with half flush and go with water-efficient plumbing.
While we are on the subject of toilets, don’t forget: 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 poo (our apologies if you’re reading this over your lunch, but it’s important).