Water is precious. Let’s conserve it.
Although we often bemoan the Irish Climate, where rain is generally fairly plentiful all year round, fresh water is not an infinite resource – approximately 97% of the global water supply is contained in our oceans (which are saline), with the remaining 3% defined as freshwater – however as much as 69% of this freshwater is held as permanent ice, with the balance stored as groundwater or in our lakes, rivers and marshes / bogs. (# 1)
As our population increases so does the pressure on our fresh water supplies.
Uisce Éireann / Irish Water has been established to manage and improve the delivery of water and wastewater services in Ireland, replacing County Councils who were responsible for providing water and wastewater services. Hopefully Irish Water will be in a position to allocate sufficient funding to repair / replace the ageing network of water pipes which by all accounts are leaking a significant amount of water into the ground. Ireland’s water supply comes from surface waters, springs or groundwater – however that water must be treated prior to consumption to ensure it is clean and safe to use.
Now is the time to conserve water and there are some good suggestions on Tap-Tips Website which if followed will help you reduce your water consumption – and ultimately reduce the cost to the Nation of treating and distributing water.
Know where your mains water shut-off valve is located (internally & externally), this could save water and prevent damage to your home in the event of a burst pipe.
- If a water meter has been installed, start monitoring your water usage, and check out ways to reduce your usage;
- Check for any leaks in your kitchen (worn tap fittings), bathroom, toilet cisterns, radiators and the “overflow” coming from the attic storage tank. When you notice a leak, repair it yourself or call a plumber;
- Insulate hot water pipes for more immediate hot water at the tap and save energy as well;
- Report broken external pipes, leaking hydrants and external water leaks to Irish Water Report a Leak
In the Kitchen
- Keep a jug of water in the fridge, instead of letting the tap run for cold water;
- Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need (you’ll also save on your electricity bill);
- Wash fruit and vegetables in a basin of water instead of running water from the tap (the resulting water could be used to water your houseplants);
- When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the hot water run while rinsing – use a basin;
- Operate your clothes washing machine or dishwasher only when full;
- Washing dark clothes at lower temperatures, saves on water and energy;
- When buying new washing machines check the water requirements as well as the energy rating;
In the Bathroom
- Upgrade older toilets with water efficient models – on older toilets one flush can use 9 litres of water;
- When running a bath, insert the plug before turning the water on – remember using a shower generally consumes less water than a bath;
- Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save water – use a water- efficient showerhead;
- Consider reusing your towels more than once before washing;
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth, or shaving;
- Consider adding a displacement device to your cistern to reduce the amount of water used per flush;
In the Garden
- Avoid using treated tapwater in the garden – collect water from your roof in a water butt and use this to water your garden, wash the windows or the car;
- If you have outside taps, check them for leaks, also check external pipes and plumbing fixtures for leaks;
- Spreading a layer of organic mulch around plants retains moisture in the soil;
- Aerate your lawn at least once a year so water can reach the roots rather than run off the surface;
- Water plants only when absolutely necessary, over-watering plants will kill them, and if watering your flowers refrain from using a hose, use a traditional watering can. (The best time of the day to water is early in the morning, or later in the evening, as this will tend to minimise levels of water evaporation);
- Lawns don’t need to be hosed – grass can survive long dry spells and recovers quickly with the next rainfall;
- Obey any “hose-pipe” regulations imposed by the Irish Water or the Council;
At Work or School
- Water costs money, reduce your water bill by reducing consumption and control the amount of water being used;
- Managers should develop a water management plan for your factory or office, ensuring that all staff are aware of the need for water conservation;
- Employees should look for ways to conserve water, and make suggestions about ways to save water and money at work;
- When purchasing new machinery or equipment know which models conserve energy and water, where possible replace worn out or broken equipment with systems that use water efficiently;
- Water used in general cleaning can be as much as 10% of all water used in some work places. Devise measures to reduce the excessive need, do you need to wash floors or would sweeping / vacuuming suffice?
- Many offices and factories have “automatic” flushing cisterns, which operate through the night and on weekends when there are no employees present. These can be replaced by modern flushing systems which “operate as required”;
- Encourage your local school to develop and promote water conservation among children and adults;
- When washing your car use a bucket of water and a sponge, a hose will waste water;
- If using a commercial car wash, use one which recycles water;
# 1 The Encyclopaedia of Earth. 2014. Freshwater. [ONLINE] Available at: The Encyclopaedia of Earth. [Accessed 20 May 15].