One person uses about 160 litres of clean treated water a day in an average Irish household. This is much higher than in other EU countries (126 litres in Germany and 116 in Denmark).
Bringing water up to drinking water quality is an expensive and energy intensive process and yet this top quality water is often wasted unnecessarily in our homes for flushing toilets or washing the car.
As well as the water that comes into your home, think carefully about what goes down your drain, as this will end up in your local river lake or bay. Water treatment plants are not effective in removing many harmful chemicals – these go straight into your local waterway, posing a risk to wildlife and humans (including you!)
Below are a number of tips for being water-friendly and using water more efficiently:
- Do not leave taps running or constantly dripping: A tap dripping once a second wastes about 10,000 litres of water a year. Remember only 1% of water in the world is drinkable!
- Do not leave tap running while you are brushing your teeth. Leaving a tap running while you are brushing your teeth you waste around 11,000 litres of water per year
- Fix leaky taps
- Take a shower instead of bathing. Also consider fitting an eco-shower head which uses 50% less water
- Use phosphate free household cleaning and washing products. For more information see The Phosphate Problem; How You Can Help to Keep Our Water Clean
- Use dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers only when fully loaded
- Do not pour paints, oils, wood preservatives, solvents, varnish, thinners, pesticides, fertilisers, poisons and acids down the drain. Bring them to the appropriate waste facilities
- Minimise your use of bleaches, disinfectants and anti-bacterial products. Consider buying an environmentally friendly product instead or using some of the alternatives here: Care2 Make a Difference, Earth Easy, Home Family, Organised Home.
- Collect rainwater for watering your garden and plants, washing your car and other household activities
- One third of all water used in the home gets flushed down the toilet. You can put a brick or plastic bottle into your toilet cistern to cut down the amount of water per flush
- Invest in a rainwater harvesting system. This will reduce use from mains supply by 50%
- Avoid using a sprinkler in garden
- Use a bucket of water for washing your car instead of a hose
- Avoid using pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals in the garden unless absolutely necessary.
- If you are not on a mains sewerage system, empty and maintain your septic tank regularly and ensure it is serviced by an authorised company
- When out and about do not throw rubbish into waterways or on the banks, place it in rubbish bins or take it home with you to recycle or dispose of with household rubbish. Plastic bags are harmful to wildlife. Whales, birds, seals and turtles are killed every year from swallowing them as they often mistake them for food such as jellyfish.
By using the above tips you will benefit in different ways:
- With water charging on the way in Ireland, if you get into good water conservation habits now, you will save money in the near future. Also you are reducing the pressure you are putting on the water resources of your area, from which all drinking water must come
- Maintaining your septic tank means no nasty back-up and smells and keeps nearby streams unpolluted
- Antibacterial products such as toilet cleaners/bleaches kill good as well as bad bacteria, making your septic tank much less effective and risking pollution from it to nearby streams and waterways and harming aquatic life. Avoiding these products brings down tank maintenance costs.
- By using phosphate free detergents you are doing your bit to cut down on the water pollution and nasty algal blooms in nearby rivers and lakes.
- By using eco-friendly products instead of toxic chemicals you are making your home a safer place for your family and contributing to the protection of all the rivers, streams, lakes and bays in your area for you, your community and local wildlife.