It might be difficult to imagine that on a planet whose surface is three quarters covered by water, there could actually be a water shortage, or that water could ultimately become a scarce commodity. Unfortunately, however, many parts of the world are caught in a decades or even millennia-long drought, and even areas that have historically had plenty of water find themselves scrambling to meet their rapidly increasing water needs. The problem is so widespread that virtually all areas – including those which find themselves inundated by monsoon seasons and devastating storms – are being forced to change the way they perceive and use water. And the UK and Europe are no different. Here are a few ways that citizens of the UK can join in the effort to reduce water consumption, while saving themselves money in the process.
Opt for native landscapes, rather than lush, manicured lawns
While a beautifully landscaped lawn or garden is a delight to behold, and an object of pride for many people, both actually constitute a battle against nature, a battle that nature ultimately wins. Where exotic plants and well-tended lawns are admittedly lovely, they require a significant investment just to keep them alive and beautiful. They require a lot of tendering, and a lot of water, to boot. Better to allow native species to grow, as they are better acclimated to survive in their environment. Watering those lawns and decorative gardens places a great deal of pressure on already taxed water sources, which ultimately translates into higher costs for the land owner.
Make use of “grey water”
Every time you launder a load of clothes, wash the day’s dishes, or bathe, the water you use goes right into the same treatment facilities that process raw sewage. While the treatment is of course necessary to render the wastewater safe to drink, the waste water you generate in your home that doesn’t contain raw sewage would be perfectly fine for watering your plants and garden. Consider capturing that “grey water” and repurposing it, rather than adding it to the water treatment facilities’ load. You’ll reduce your monthly water bill considerably, while still keeping your lawn and garden healthy and beautiful. Before doing so, be certain to check with local ordinances. And if you’re building a new home, check into the cost and legality of splitting your “grey water” sources’ from your toilets’ output.
Capture rainwater for gardening use
It wasn’t that long ago that many homes had cisterns – large barrels strategically placed to capture rainwater off rooftops – as a primary water source. Naturally, such systems became impractical in cities, and the municipal water services ultimately replaced cisterns and wells as a source of a family’s water. There is little reason, however, not to employ such a simple approach to provide water for your non-consumption needs, or even just to supplement your use of municipal supplies. An empty, covered barrel, fed by downspouts on a structure, can capture a significant amount of water during rainy periods or even brief storms, and that extra water doesn’t cost you anything. Do a bit of research into this process, taking into account local laws and potential health issues (such as preventing parasites from making a home in standing water). You might discover that rainwater is a resource you’ve never considered, but which can help cut your monthly bills.
Try taking “navy showers”
Onboard ships, water is very much in limited supply. Sailors have long been required to reduce water use by running the shower only when wetting themselves down and rinsing themselves off, rather than having the water running continuously. Such a practice might seem austere, especially if you truly enjoy a long, soothing shower or soak in the tub, but the savings you’ll realize will only increase as water supplies are increasingly strained and the cost continues to rise.
The core solution, beyond finding additional sources of free or reclaimed water or of extra money to pay the bills, is to look for ways to reduce the amount of water you use on a daily basis. Who knows? Perhaps the old tongue-in-cheek admonition to “Save water, shower with a friend” might not seem quite so tongue-in-cheek after all.