Judging by the damages that excess rain often brings, it would be easy to assume that the water supply for human consumption is inexhaustible. But although the amount of water on the planet remains constant because of the planet’s water cycle, the amount of drinking water remains small. 70% of the planet may be covered with water, but only 0,6% of that is fluid (i.e. not trapped in glaciers) and fresh (not salt water) and therefore fit for human consumption. On top of that, this fraction of clean fresh water isn’t freely accessible everywhere.
Although the figures vary, it is well known that Westerners consume more than their fair share of this clean, fresh water. That is without mentioning the quality of the water once it’s been used and returned to the water cycle. All around there are signs that Nature can no longer accommodate this misuse of water. Sustainable use of water is the only way forward.
Ways to Conserve Water
- Use less water.
- Use the best quality water where it is explicitly needed. Use alternative sources of water where applicable e.g. rainwater for flushing the toilet, washing textiles, cleaning the home and gardening. It is not a good idea, however, to replace tap water with groundwater. Besides the health risks attached to doing this, it can affect the quality of already scarce groundwater resources.
- Pollute less water.
By applying these principles to our daily practices in the home, in agriculture and in industry, it is possible to limit the degradation of the quality of the Earth’s freshwater supplies.
How can Families do Their Bit?
How can an ordinary family covert their home into a water-friendly home? There are 2 ways to do this:
- Change water consumption habits
- Technical solutions e.g. water saving showerheads
Bringing about technical changes to the home without adjusting the water consumption habits of the family, will not be enough to do the trick. Changing behavior but clinging to water guzzling equipment will also not deliver satisfactory results. Only when the two go hand in hand will a water-friendly family home become a reality.
Installing a toilet with dual flush technology, for example, is a good water saving device but if family members don’t bother using the appropriate flush button after each toilet use, then the household’s water saving will be insignificant. Likewise, taking longer showers cannot be the result of installing a water saving showerhead because this too, will not save water. Equally, choosing an environmentally friendly washing powder and using more than the recommended amount (overdosing), will produce polluted water.
In short, the effect of a person’s behavior has a greater impact on our water resources that technology. And fortunately, changing behavior is... free.