Water: Our Most Precious Resource
By Anthea Hudson
DAMS, BORES AND WELLS
WATER-WISE FITTINGS AND APPLIANCES
WATER-WISE IN THE GARDEN
Water- without it all life on Earth would quickly perish, yet some people waste and abuse it as if it is of no value and totally expendable.
The world's water requirement is increasing all the time, as our population increases, however less and less of our water is now of safe drinking quality. Of all the water on Earth, only 0.5% is fresh drinking quality water! And the more we pollute it, the smaller this percentage will become.
Life without water - Full Documentary
So, why are we continuing to treat water with such disrespect, and what steps can we take to do our part in using water wisely, finding different ways to access water, and change the way we treat this valuable resource?
Our waterways- both fresh and salt water- are under enormous strain from the way we use them and abuse them. There is a need for an awareness of what is happening, so change can occur. Oceans and rivers are not just bottomless pits that can take anything we do to them, or dump in them, with no ill effect.
So, what are a few of the ways we are affecting the health of our waters... and ourselves as well?
- Overusing water from certain parts of rivers, so that lower regions dry up or increase in salinity. That means less, or no water available to people and creatures who live downstream, as well as the high salinity killing fish and making the water undrinkable.
- We pollute out rivers and oceans with almost anything you can think of. Heavy metals, effluent from factory farms, sewage with various degrees of treatment- or not, toxic chemicals, plastic in all shapes and forms, fertilisers and pesticides to name a few.
- Oil companies have spilled millions of barrels of oil into the ocean and other waterways have also been polluted with petrochemicals.
- Destruction of our marine and river environments and the life within them.
FLOW For Love of Water
TOXINS IN OUR WATER
Our waterways are the source of water for much of our needs. We drink from them, grow food with the water, eat fish that have swum in it, animals that have drunk it. So, what we put into our waterways, comes back to us in all kinds of ways. Toxins are taken in and concentrated as they move up the food chain, until we eat the most concentrated form. These toxins have a terrible effect on both the creatures who live in the water, and on our health too.
We even add things such as chlorine and fluoride to our drinking water in many places... which many think may not actually be healthy for us!
The truth about fluoride in Australia's water
Here is a list of just a few of the substances we may find in our water:
- Bisphenol A
- Calcium hydroxide
- Fluorosilicic acid
- Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons
- Sodium silicofluoride
- Vinyl Chlorides
The list of chemicals that have been found in water is actually huge. This is just a very small sample.
Toxic soup anyone??
If you would like to become involved in monitoring and helping to protect our waterways, why not join- or start- a Waterwatch group?
Go to http://www.waterwatch.org.au/ for more information.
Bottled water is, in most cases, a huge waste of resources. In a lot of cases, the water is of no better quality than from your tap... in fact, sometimes it is just tap water stuck in a bottle!
The plastic used for most bottled water is also potentially toxic, especially if reused.
If you want filtered water... go for a home filter system such as a pre-tap filter system or filter jug. You will save money too!
Harvesting water to use in your garden, or even certain applications in your house, can cut down on the amount of mains water you require, and put into use fresh water that may just have ended up as run-off, sent out to sea in the storm-water drain system.
Some of the following ideas might be worth putting into use:
- Install rainwater tanks (huge variety of styles and shapes, including underground storage systems), rain barrels, or catch water from drip points and downpipes in whatever you have available.
- They now also convert trolley bins into rainwater catchment systems, with taps on.
- Pump tank water into your house for use in washing machine, flushing toilet etc.
- Filter tank water to use for drinking water.
- Reuse grey water in toilet cisterns, direct on the garden, or through filtration/treatment systems or reed bed systems. Check what is permissible in your area with regard to grey water use.
- If you have a larger area planted, on a slope, swales might be worth looking into, to capture water that may otherwise have just run off.
DIY Backyard Rainwater Harvesting
DAMS, BORES AND WELLS
For larger properties, especially those with livestock or large amounts of food growing areas, independent sources of water- even if mains water is available- are often advisable. And rain water tanks in themselves may not be enough.
Creating your own dam, bore or well... or a combination... are often good ways to go. They do take some careful planning, and knowing what you are doing. A dam isn't just a large hole in the ground, nor is a bore or well just a deep hole. They need careful positioning and construction, and expert assistance is greatly advised.
Desalination plants are being set up in various places, to turn sea water into drinking quality water. As this is a fairly new innovation, it will be interesting to see what pros and cons develop out of this process. With populations growing, and weather patterns changing, we do need to find other ways to access fresh water, so perhaps this will turn out to be a godsend. However we need to proceed with caution in any process which takes large quantities of resources from an ecosystem.
Josh's House | EP 7 | Water (Josh Byrne)
WATER-WISE FITTINGS AND APPLIANCES
For most people, it is in our homes that we can have the greatest control over the way water is used. By making changes in both the water using devices in our homes, and water usage habits, we can reduce our water use significantly.
Here are some of the changes you could make:
- Low flow shower heads.
- Use a shower timer, or other method of keeping track of your showering time.
- Showers (short) usually use less water than baths.
- Shower with a friend. :)
- Don't just run taps when washing dishes, hands, brushing teeth etc.
- Rinse recyclables in dish washing water at end of washing up, rather than running separate water.
- Dual flush toilets.
- Toilet suites with small hand basin above, which then empties into the cistern for flushing.
- Make sure all leaking taps, running toilets etc are fixed promptly... they can waste an astounding amount of water over time!
- When it comes time to replace white goods such as your washing machine and dishwasher, buy one with a good rating- for both water and energy use!
- Don't run half empty washing machines and dishwashers, unless they have a special half load setting.
WATER-WISE IN THE GARDEN
Gardens, especially in hotter climates, can use a very considerable percentage of household water usage. Water restrictions can also make keeping your garden healthy more of a challenge. Some simple changes can really help you use less water in the garden, and get it through the tough times.
Your waterwise questions answered with Josh Byrne
Here's some ideas that might be useful in your garden:
- Plant natives, especially those indigenous to your area and climate, or succulents and other plants that don't require large amounts of water.
- If you have more water hungry plants, keep them in shade houses, under trees, shaded pergolas, erect shade cloth etc to lessen evaporation.
- Try to keep plants with similar water requirements together, so you aren't over-watering plants that don't need it, or vice versa.
- Water early in the morning or in the evening, to lessen evaporation.
- Water less often, for longer, to deep water and help the plants develop a deeper root system.
- Water close to ground, or underground, by using weeping hoses or dripper systems, to lessen water lost through wind, and to get the water right where it is needed.
- Have more of your garden planted with ground covers, shrubs, bushes, trees etc and less with water hungry lawns.
- If you must have lawn, plant a drought resistant variety, suited to your area, and try to let it go through its natural growth and die off cycle, during different seasons, rather than water it. Most lawns may look brown in summer, but recover and green up as rainfall increases. Also, don't mow lawns too short.
- Keep plants well mulched to lessen evaporation.
- Keep your plants healthy, as healthy plants are less susceptible to the harsh effects of climate and lack of water.
Waterwise Plants with Josh Byrne
If we can change the way we look at water, and put into practise some simple techniques for using it responsibly, and caring for it, then the future of our water viability will look much brighter!
For more practical tips on saving on water use, check out our articles '21 Tips For Saving Water In Your Home' and '33 Tips For Saving Water In Your Garden and Outdoors'.