How To Limit Your Water Use
• This one is so simple – and like so many simple things, it's so easy to forget. Don't leave water running while you brush your teeth or wash. You could run through 5 litres of water a minute uselessly down the drain this way.
• Get a low flow shower head, preferably one with a shut-off button while you are soaping or shampooing. You'll never notice the difference, but it's about 11 litres of water a minute.
• Replace a conventional flush toilet with an Ultra Low volume unit. Cost: about $200. Water savings: 12 litres per flush!
• Alternatively, get a toilet dam for about $10,which displaces some of the space in the tank and lowers the amount of flow.
• Check for leaks in the toilet seal, which can silently drain water, by putting a couple of drops of food colouring in the back. If the colour shows up in the bowl, the culprit is revealed. The problem is probably a valve that isn't seated properly, or a bent lift wire or corroded valve seals. These items can all be repaired cheaply with kits from building supply stores.
• Save those dirty dishes and only run the dishwasher when you have a full load.
• When rinsing vegetables or dishes, fill the sink or a bowl; don't leave the tap running. It can use between 15 and 20 litres of water per minute. Wash fruit and veggies in a sink half filled with water (about 12 litres). If your washing time takes 3 to 5 minutes, you'll save 33 to 48 litres of water.
All over the house
• Replace the filters in your taps with low flow aerators – cheap (less than $5), easy, effective. There are two types, so be sure to ask for the low flow one.
• And of course, fix those leaky taps. A tap leak of one drop per second adds up to a spectacular 10,000 litres of water a year!
• You don't need to water the lawn compulsively – aerate it, keep it cut long (at least 6 cm). So the roots stay cool, keep it mulched, and give it 2.5 centimetres of water once a week or less. Delay sprinkling in the spring and encourage deep roots. Even if it turns brown it will survive to green up again once the rain comes. Plant native shrubs and ground cover to replace some of your lawn; they take less water and provide wildlife habitat.
• Oscillating sprinklers can lose up to 50% of their output to evaporation; sprinklers that lay down water in a flat pattern are no more expensive and lose very little water. Better yet are soaker hoses so the ground can absorb all the water.
• A running hose can waste 20 litres of water a minute. Use a spring-loaded nozzle. A forgotten sprinkler can waste over 1,000 litres of water per hour!
• Water in the early morning if possible; less water is lost to evaporation, but the plants will not be prone to diseases if they have the day to dry off.
• Don't wash your car too often, and when you do, use a bucket and do it on the lawn so the water gets re-used. Remember – A clean car is a sign of a sick mind!
• Make a rain barrel and use the soft water for your plants – and your hair!
• You can buy rain barrels from Lee Valley Tools, or other stores, or you can make your own. You need a very large plastic container (food grade containers or garbage cans), an outdoor tap, two bolts and two washers. At the level you want the tap at the bottom of the barrel, drill a 1/2" hole. Install the tap, with the two washers held on each side of the barrel by the nuts. Use a little silicone to seal it. See our Rainwater Collection Booklet on our Special Feature section on the right hand side of our homepage.
• And for goodness sakes if you see someone watering their driveway – hand them a broom!