Water – Apr 2006

Water water everywhere

Or is it? We’re pretty well off for water in this part of the country right now but it is a different story in the south east with reservoirs down to 40% full at the end of the winter.

Like most, I used to take water pretty much for granted, after all we live in such a wet country. In summer I’d use the hose for watering the garden, including the lawn as well as washing the car, and if I only had a few things to wash; well no matter if the washing machine was only a third full.

However I gradually became aware of three main things. Firstly, how important is it really to have green grass all year round. Secondly what huge amounts of resources are used to store, filter, treat and pump water around the region and thirdly why was I using pristine clean drinking water to flush the toilet?

The simple fact is that we in the UK use much more water per head then most other Western European countries. Combined with this is a growing population, an ageing and leaky water supply network and the unpredictability of climate change. As the south east will be discovering this year, we are not quite as damp a country as we first thought.

So, for some time now we;

  • Have short non power-assisted showers (5 mins or under) instead of baths most of the time. Or share a bath!
  • Do not own a hose pipe (best way not to be tempted)
  • Have a dual flush toilet with a sealed plastic bottle in the cistern
  • Collect water in water butts for the garden and grow drought resistant plants
  • Wash the car from a bucket
  • Only use the washing machine when full
  • Turn the tap off when brushing teeth
  • Keep bottles of tap water in the fridge to save running the tap until the water is cold

And when money permits we’re hoping to install a rainwater harvesting system which captures the water from the house gutters for use in the toilet (where a third of most household’s water is used).

By mid July our grass will most likely be brown, though unwatered grass does develop longer roots I’m told. Either way I reckon there are more important things to worry about like preserving the water!