crazy. On the driest inhabited continent on earth, we've developed
the most expensive and inefficient way of dealing with our most
precious asset- our water.
about it for a moment...
build a dam 30 km. from town at great expense. We treat the dam
water to the highest possible quality for drinking. We pipe it to
our homes where...
of it ends up being hosed and sprinkled onto our gardens and lawns.
26% of it is used in the bathroom.
19% of it gets used to flush sewage from our toilets!
15% of it gets used to wash dirty clothes.
that up- 95% of our valuable drinking water resource is squandered
on flushing toilets, washing, watering gardens, and in the bathroom.
we are paying water rates, and EXCESS water rates for it! Only 4%
of this pure drinking water is used for cooking, and just 1% for
are one thing, reality is another. How much real waste of water
does this 95% mean? Well, we are told that the average water consumption
of a Canberra home is 294,000 liters a year! That's 30% more
than Sydney and Melbourne households, by the way.
of 294,000 litres is 279,300 of pure drinking water- wasted. If
you want to give the calculator a work out, try this. Take the figure
of pure drinking water wasted per household (279,300l.), and then
multiply it by the number of households in Canberra. How many households?
Probably 90,000-100,000. Do the sums. Frightening, isn't it?
wonder we keep talking about the need for a new dam.
Clever Country? I Don't Think So..
Nature is at work. Free water falls out of the sky. In an average
Canberra year, some 48,000 liters of rain falls on my modest home-
an average of 430l. per square metre of roof. Another 7,000l. or
so falls on my double garage. So what do we do with Natures' bounty?
How do we take advantage of this free gift of the best water in
the world. Oh, yes. We pay for another lot of expensive infrastructure-
the stormwater system- to take it away from our homes as quickly
the same time, we're busy taking the waste water from our showers,
baths, washing machines- water that could be used on the garden,
at least- and sending it with raw sewage to the Lower Molonglo Sewage
Treatment Works. The time will come when we're told we have to foot
the bill to expand Lower Molonglo, and it will be because we're
pouring usable water down the sewer.
Clever Country? I Don't Think So.
would a Clever Country, or in our case, a Clever City, do? We would:
as much rainwater on our block as we could
as much water as we could
it instead of mains water for as many applications as we personally
felt comfortable with. We each have a different attitude to this,
and our attitude is evolving with time.
as much 'grey water' as we could on our block
Would The Results Be?
all get water bills; and most of us get excess water bills.
We are charged $0.41c for the first 200,000 litres, then $0.94c
for every thousand litres after that.
can be sure that, as the need for a new dam gets closer, government
will use the 'stick' of cost to encourage reduction in use of mains
water. We've already had another small increase in the 2003-2004
don't have to be Einstein to guess that the cost per liter we are
billed for water will rise. The Conservation Council of the South
East Region and Canberra has pointed out to the ACT Government in
a Budget submission, that Sydney consumers pay a FLAT fee of $0.94.22c
per thousand liters for EVERY drop.
water bill, and it's excess water component used not to matter.
Now it's a irritation approaching $200 for the average household.
In the future, it will become a major financial headache. Utilising
rainwater saved on our blocks, and re-using grey water will free
us from the personal taxation of rising water bills.
getting close to needing a new dam, because we're so wasteful at
present. The really bad news, is that nobody's going to give us
one for Christmas! We're going to have to buy it. Cost estimates
are of the order of hundreds of millions of dollars at today's prices.
If we borrow that much for a dam, the annual interest bill alone
would be $10,000,000+. That would have to be paid for by reducing
expenditure elsewhere in our Budget (education? health?), by raising
taxes, or raising the price of water- which is the same thing. Utilising
rainwater and grey water on our blocks will put off the day when
the community has to build a new dam.
Become A Water-Clever City.
we're on a Mission. We want to help YOU save water, save energy,
save money, and save our environment. On this site, you'll find
good information, links to good websites, and good products
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you think others would like to read. Help spread the word.
time we became a Water-Clever City.
© John Payne 2004
John Payne is the Founder of Enviro Friendly World. He was previously General Manager of a biological
wastewater treatment company, and worked at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
in Canberra, Australia. John has successfully operated many businesses
in a 40-year career, and has a life-long interest in science and
nature. You are welcome to reprint this article or link to it. If
reprinting, please use it as above, complete with links and author
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