Water Saving Week is a good time to acknowledge that the continued decline in global water security—the availability of safe, reliable water as a natural resource—presents an immense challenge and will be a risk to poverty reduction and sustainable development in the coming decades. Without measurable efficiency or technology gains, by 2030, the world’s demand for water will exceed the available supply by 40 percent, and an estimated 2.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity. Although climate change affects all groups in society, the impacts on women and girls are much greater, increasing gender inequalities, especially across urban–rural, threatening their health, well-being, livelihoods and education. The answers will have to lie in global strategies supported governments, businesses and NGOs. Nonetheless, our own appreciation of water as a globally scarce resource must be reflected in how we deal with this precious resource.
So let’s use this week to ask ourselves some questions about our own use of water by looking round our homes.
Why should we save water?
Here’s a reminder why all of us even here in the UK should be saving water:
- The environment: Using water efficiently means that we can minimise the amount of additional water taking out of our rivers and lakes, and thus protecting our local eco systems. Half of our water sources are already over-exploited as it is and, worryingly, demand continues to grow.
- Climate Change: Our use of water and energy are closely linked. A major source of carbon emissions comes from using hot water within our homes and that for each of us significantly contributes to our personal carbon footprint.
- Securing water supplies: As water resources become exhausted, building new infrastructure for keep up supply becomes increasingly expensive. If we can save water that is otherwise wasted, we can reduce the need for new expensive infrastructure projects and reduce pressure on existing ones.
- Save money: Saving water saves money, particularly if your property is metered. Installing simple devices such as water-efficient taps and showers will save both water and energy by minimising the use of heated water. An efficient shower head could reduce household bills by up to £120 per year. Such large financial savings can be particularly vital for households facing water and/or energy poverty.
What can we do?
So – what can we do? Taking water efficiency seriously in our homes and gardens can take many forms. Of course not all of them will be suitable or possible for everybody. But there is certainly more that each of us can do. For example you will probably already have begun to turn off the tap while brushing teeth or shampooing your hair. But have you thought of installing a water-saving dual-flush toilet, an aerated shower head or kitchen tap, of fitting a four-minute timer in the shower, or of attaching a water butt to a rainwater downpipe in the garden? Lockdown may provide us with some time to think carefully about moving to planting more drought resilient plants in the beds and borders of our garden. Water hungry plants in hanging baskets can be particular culprits. But we can also raise awareness and exert pressure as consumers. Next time you go to a DIY shop for a bathroom appliance (once this is possible again), make sure to ask whether the product is sustainable and designed to save water. Industry will take notice and begin to produce these devices as standard if they believe the demand for water-efficient products is there. And as many of us have already discovered, choosing water saving products delivers environmental and cost-saving benefits without any loss in performance. But of course we can help save water not just in our homes and gardens but also at work, at school or in our local communities. Let’s be ambitious and really begin to reduce our water wastage this year! Find out more here