Save water, the planet and your pocket
DO YOU leave the tap running while brushing your teeth, take long hot showers or throw away a glass of water after taking just a few sips? We often waste water, generally because we take for granted what is freely available.
Reducing your consumption can help your purse-strings as well as the environment...
World water scenario
Some basic statistics about the availability of water should serve as an eye opener. Around 97.5% of all water on earth is salt water. That leaves just 2.5% as fresh water.
Barely 0.007% of water on earth is accessible for direct human use – coming from lakes, rivers, reservoirs and underground sources that are shallow enough to be tapped at an affordable cost. Renewed by rain and snowfall, this amount is available on a sustainable basis.
The rest of the world's water consumption is treated water. With present levels of consumption, the world is expected to suffer from severe scarcity of fresh water resources, probably before the end of the next century.
Consumption around the world
If that hasn't opened your eyes, this next set of statistics should. Some 1.1 billion people live without clean drinking water and 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation. Around 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases and 3,900 children die every day from water-borne diseases.
Despite this, the developed world consumes water at an astonishing rate. In the residential areas of North America and Japan, the daily use per capita is 350 litres, and in Europe it is about 200 litres. In the UAE consumption per capita is an astonishing 550 litres – perhaps the highest in the world.
In comparison, water consumption in sub-Saharan Africa is only 10-12 litres per day per person.
The cost of consumption
If you're still not convinced about the benefits of saving water, how about a little financial incentive? People in developed countries have to pay for the regular use of water. In the case of the UAE, DEWA bills – for water and electricity – are a common gripe.
Suppose you consume 5,000 gallons of water in a month. With the current tariff of 3.5 fills per gallon (for usage up to 0-6,000 gallons), your water bill would be AED 175 ($47.81) per month.
If you could cut your consumption to 3,000 litres a month, the monthly saving would be AED 105 ($28.69) – a whopping 40%. Over a year, you'd save AED 1,260 ($344.26) – just by using water carefully!
The UAE government is trying to reduce consumption of water usage from the current level to 350 litres per capita in next five years.
In Abu Dhabi, more than 60,000 homes, schools, mosques and other public buildings in the Emirate are to be fitted with special devices that cut water flow by a third as part of a national conservation campaign launched last year.
The Federal Electricity and Water Authority plans to install similar devices in the northern Emirates to control the use of water.
What you can do
We can all do our bit. The market is full of devices that help to regulate the flow of water out of taps, in toilet cisterns and shower heads. A set of regulators for taps cost from AED 75 ( $ 20.41) to AED 150 ($ 40.98) depending on the number of rooms, hence number of taps and last for years. In this way, you can cut consumption by up to 75%.
White goods manufacturers are also coming out with improved versions of washing machines and dishwashers that can effectively reduce consumption of water from 40 gallons on an average cycle to 27 gallons.
You can save money – and reduce your carbon footprint – without investing in gadgets and gizmos. Here's how:
In the kitchen...
Wash fruit and vegetables by filling a bowl of water instead of running them under the tap;
Wash your dishes in large batches to save repeatedly filling the sink;
Instead of thawing frozen meat and other food under the tap, defrost it overnight.
In the bathroom...
Shortening your shower time by just half a minute will save you 150 gallons of water a month;
While shaving, brushing your teeth or washing your face, don't leave the tap running. This could save up to 150 gallons a month;
Why waste water when waiting for the tap to run hot? Store the initial flow of cold water for house plants;
Replace old models of toilet (which uses up to seven gallons of water per flush) with improved models which use less than 1.3 gallons per flush. Alternatively, place a plastic bottle filled with water or sand in the cistern to reduce the amount of water used in each flush.
Pic credit: africa/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Are you conscious about your water consumption? Do you teach your children to conserve water? Share your tips with us below!