Water Woes

It can hardly have escaped your attention over the past few weeks that parts of the country are suffering from a water shortage. Here in Cambridgeshire we’ve not yet had any restrictions imposed, but that’s no reason to be complacent. Cambridge Water reports that its borehole levels are currently very low, if not yet critical. With dry weather and a rising population, our region’s water supply will be coming under increasing pressure over the coming years.

Purifying rain water to make it safe for drinking consumes energy, and treating the waste water that we send back via the drains and sewers before it can be released consumes yet more.

We also need to share the available rain water with our environment. Take too much, and rivers and fen land will dry up, resulting in the loss of habitats for much of our native wildlife.

While the water companies could do much more to fix the leaks in their pipes – and we hope you’ll encourage them to do so – there are many things that we can all do ourselves to help.

  • Go easy in the garden. Most plants, if given the chance, will send their roots down deep enough to find what water there is, so save your water for those that really need it. Use a watering can rather than a hose, and give them a good soak once a week rather than a little every day. Water in the evening so it has a chance to soak in overnight.
  • Use a water butt. These are inexpensive, easy to fit to a drainpipe, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit all spaces. You can get them from most garden centres, or on special offer from the county council by phoning 0845 130 60 90. The water can be used in the garden or for other jobs such as washing your car or bicycle. Of course, not washing your car at all saves even more water, so only do things like this when necessary!
  • Be conscious of how much water you’re using around the home. Don’t leave taps running, do fix leaks and drips, and fit a water saving device to your toilet cistern to cut down how much you flush away. These are available from Cambridge Water ¬†free of charge, or there is a more sophisticated device available from Interflush ¬†that lets you vary the flush to whatever is required.
  • Re-use grey water. Grey water is water you’ve already used once, for washing up or in the bath for example, but it can be used again in much the same way as you would use water from a water butt.
  • Wash efficiently. Modern washing machines and dishwashers can use less water than some people would use doing the same job by hand in the sink, but make sure you always have a full load before using them; and if replacing a machine that has reached the end of its life, look for water and energy efficient models as they can vary a lot. Take short showers rather than baths, or share the bath water.

These are just a few ideas for saving water, and saving yourself money in the process, but it is far from exhaustive.