World Water Day is on March 22nd. It is a day of international observance to examine current and future challenges having to do with water and sanitation. This year’s theme is on water and jobs, and the ways in which the quantity and quality of water can alter the lives and livelihoods of workers, and even transform societies and economies around the world.
Interestingly the world’s top 5 countries with the most renewable fresh water resources are:
1. Brazil with over 8,000 km3 per year;
2. Russia with over 4,000 km3/year;
3. USA with just over 3,000 km3/year;
4. Canada at just under 3,000 km3/year; and
5. China at around 2,700 km3/year.
These numbers might appear to be impressive yet, out of all planet Earth’s water, only 2.5% is fresh water. Some 98.8% of that is tied up in ice caps, glaciers and in the ground, which leaves a little over 1.2% on the surface. Almost 80% of that 1.2% is locked up in ground ice, which leaves not much more than 20% found in lakes and another <0.5% in rivers. And it is from those rivers that humans and animals derive most of their fresh water.
We all have roles to play in water conservation. As architects we have the responsibility, and opportunity, to conserve and protect the quality of water through our designs. As homeowners there are things we can do to conserve water, such as by changes in habit and upgrades to fixtures.
Six Tips for Water Conservation in the Home
Install efficient fixtures for your toilets, showerheads and faucets. Replace older fixtures or older toilets with more efficient models. Invest in low-flow and/or dual-flush toilets, and choose more efficient showerheads. The WaterSense program labels ultra-low-flow, high water-efficient plumbing fixtures that are 20% more water-efficient than other products on the market.
Turn off the faucet while you brush, and when you shave. Did you know that turning off the water while brushing your teeth can save up to 6 litres of water per minute? Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and when shaving; start saving water, one drip at a time.
Take shorter showers. While making the decision to shower over taking a bath is a great first step in cutting down on water use, showers can use anywhere between 6 and 45 liters of water per minute. Shorten the length of your shower or consider turning off the shower while you lather up.
Repair a dripping tap. A dripping tap can waste 15 liters of water a day, or 5,500 liters of water a year. Repair a leaky faucet for long-term savings.
Lawn Irrigation Systems. How often do you see lawn sprinklers spraying lawns while the rain is teeming down? Too often, home owners and commercial concerns fail to intercede when the sprinklers are just not necessary. Automatic sprinklers come with manual overrides and people need to use them.
Be proactive in your approach to water consumption. Small changes can make a big impact. For example, ensure your dishwasher or washing machine is full before turning on. Or, instead of running tap water and waiting for it to get cold, fill a jug with water from the tap and place it in your fridge.
Being conscious of how much water you use is the first step towards making a difference in the fight against water waste wherever you live. Celebrate World Water Day by taking the appropriate steps towards cutting down on water use throughout the home. Reduction in fresh water use also results in reduction of wastewater, saving energy, money and resources for wastewater treatment.