|Having just experienced the fifth driest March on record, focus on water scarcity is on the up. And yes, this is despite the wettest month on record in April 2012.
Water is key to all known forms of life. It plays a fundamental role in our day-to-day being from drinking, cooking and cleaning to agriculture, energy production and industry.
However climate projections provide abundant evidence that our freshwater resources are vulnerable and are likely to be strongly impacted by climate change – having wide-ranging consequences for human societies and ecosystems.
Here are nine exciting things you may not already know about water.
Water and the world:
Fresh water accounts for only 2.5% of the world’s 1.4 billion km3 of
water, most of this freshwater is inaccessible with 70% locked in glaciers snow and ice.
Only 0.3% of this water is found in rivers streams and lakes – the rest is stored as ground water.
Recent higher temperatures, increased evaporation and lower rainfall have reduced water flow by up to 40% in some of the world’s poorest countries, causing recurring droughts.
In future many countries are predicted to get less water less often. This will have a noticeable effect on areas of the UK, particularly the south, where droughts are already an issue in summer months.
Water consumption in the UK
The average UK household uses over 100,000 litres of water every year.
The average person uses up to 150 litres in just one day - every drop of which has to be extracted, cleaned and treated before it is transported to us.
Toilet flushing accounts for around a third of our daily consumption – this water is returned straight back to the sewer where it begins the cleaning process all over again.
Taking a bath uses on average 80 litres, a power shower can use even more.
Heating water in our homes accounts for 5% of the UKs CO2 emissions and 25% of the emissions from our homes.
In the bathroom:
1) Turning off the tap while you brush your teeth or shave will save up to 9 litres of water per minute!
2) Installing regulators or aerators on your taps will save water and save on your gas/electricity bill by reducing the amount of hot water used.
Regulators reduce the amount of water leaving the tap to as little as 3.5 litres per minute, while aerators mix air with the water reducing consumption by up to 50%. Ask your water company if they can supply these for you.
Baths and power showers use up to 80 litres of water per use, a conventional shower uses approximately 45 litres of water.
3) Fitting an aerated shower head will reduce water use by up to 30% while maintaining the performance of the shower.
4) Reducing the amount of time spent in the shower by just one minute can save 10 litres of water. A family of four who each reduce their shower time by one minute per shower would save 12,000 litres of water a year (assuming they shower once a day!).
In the toilet:
Toilet flushing accounts for a third of the water we use in the home. This means you probably flush away as much water in one day as you drink in one month!
5) Installing a ‘hippo’ or ‘save-a-flush’ in your toilet reduces the capacity of the toilet cistern - thus reducing the amount of water used per flush!
(If you are replacing your toilet you should consider installing a low flush or dual flush system – where you should aim to use the small flush where possible)
In the kitchen:
6) When washing dishes, fill the sink with water instead of leaving the tap running.
In and around the home
7) Buy high efficiency appliances.
The amount of water consumed by dishwashers and washing machines varies greatly from model to model. Choosing appliances with a high EU energy label can help you save water, energy and money. Ideally you should look for:
A washing machine which uses less than 50 litres per wash and
A dish washer which uses less than 15 litres per wash
(Remember: try to only use appliances when they are full, saving water and energy!)
8) Installing a water meter can make you serious savings on your water bills. Water metering means that you only pay for what you use. Most customers will use 10% less water when metered.
9) Look out for leaks – a major cause of water wastage. Unusually high water readings, lush patches of vegetation in dry periods and damp patches in or around the property can indicate leaks. Report leaks and get them fixed as soon as possible.
Saving water in the home can be cheap and easy, and can not only help you save the environment, but can also help you save money!