As temperatures are set to soar this week, NI Water is calling on the public to be water wise as it announces water usage has increased by 12 litres per person per day. Over a year, that’s more than 4,000 litres each, enough for 80 baths!
The increase, compared against figures from 2020, is a result of more of us being at home for longer periods of time. This shocking statistic means we are now using 170 litres per person per day rather than 158.
NI Water’s Environmental Outreach & Learning Officer, Anna Killen explains,
“Northern Ireland was already among one of the highest region of water users in the UK before the pandemic, with an average of 158 per person versus the 142 UK average. With working from home becoming the norm and the school holidays upon us, we need to take stock of how our water usage has changed and examine how much we are actually wasting.
“I know there is a massive willingness among the public to conserve water, it can often be the case people simply don’t realise that little changes can make a big difference.
“It is estimated that a running tap can waste 6 litres of water per minute, couple this with the recommended teeth brushing time of 2 mins, that equates to 12 litres of water wasted per brush! If we all turned the tap off while we brushed our teeth, we are helping save some of those 12 litres we are currently over using.
“NI Water water audits also show the average time spent in the shower is 10 minutes. A shower can use up to 7 litres per minute, more for a power shower, which means what we think is a quick 10min shower, is actually 70 litres of water. Now, this is not an excuse to avoid getting washed, rather, be mindful of your length of time in there. Maybe challenge yourself to get in and out before a song finishes or don’t perform that imaginary concert (yes we all do it!).”
With the sun finally making an appearance too, our attentions are turning to the gardens and whether or not you have grass, we can all be smarter with our water and use it wisely.
Anna continues, “gardening is a great chance for us all to reconnect with nature for our physical and mental wellbeing. However, as we seek to add a little colour to our gardens and hanging baskets, remember, we don’t need to increase our water use to keeping our gardens blooming.
“Add water retaining swell gel crystals to the compost when planting pots and hanging baskets. This can greatly help reduce the demand for frequent watering as the crystals swell and keep plants hydrated for longer, saving both time and water!
“If you have no grass to tend to and are thinking of sprucing up the paving or decking, a power hose can use 600 litres of water in just one hour! That is enough to supply a family of four with water for 24 hours! Being mindful of this can help ensure you don’t use more than you have to.”
Some other tips to save water in the garden include:
• When watering plants, use a watering can instead of a hose and consider installing in a waterbutt which is a great way to collect and reuse rainwater;
• Mulching around the base of plants with bark or straw can help prevent evaporation and even have the added benefit of preventing weeds which compete with plants for water;
• Watering plants during cooler periods of the day also helps to prevent evaporation and ensure the water reaches the roots of the plant where it is needed;
• Reduce sprinkler time – using a sprinkler to water the lawn can use as much water in an hour that a family of four uses in a day so instead of leaving it on all night, use it for an hour;
• Letting the grass grow longer in dry spells – to help keep in moisture and infrequent watering with a watering can will encourage roots to search for water in deeper ground. Lawns are extremely hardy and tend to bounce back to health even after prolonged dry periods.
Other simple things we can do in the home:
1 Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth – A running tap can use 6 litres of water per minute.
2 Use a bowl for washing vegetables – You can reduce water waste by using a bowl to wash and prepare your vegetables. Then you can reuse this water for plants.
3 Make full use of your washing machine – Half load programmes on washing machines use more than half the water and energy of a full load, so wait until the machine is full before switching it on.
4 Fix leaking taps – A dripping tap can waste more than 60 litres of water per week.
Check out the reservoirs map on https://www.niwater.com/reservoir-levels/ and find out which once serves your home. This is a great resource for people to see where their water comes from and how full they are. We need to remember, even if a reservoir is 90% full at the moment, we are only at the start of the Summer period and just because we are water rich right now, does not give us the right to waste it; we should save now to help later.
Anna concludes, “NI Water is the biggest user of electricity and cleaning water is energy intensive, all these little changes protect our water supply for the future and help save energy too.
If you want to claim a free pack of swell gel crystals, visit www.getwaterfit.co.uk to discover your own water use in the garden and receive your free swell gel crystals, alongside other water saving items.”