Saving water at home
Using less water, and making the most of what we do need to use, is vitally important during water restrictions.
And it's not too hard to make small changes that can add up to a lot of water saved - once you start, you'll soon get used to saving water at your place.
Read on for some great and easy ideas....
Current water restrictions Water Tracker
Saving water in the home
In the kitchen
Begin by checking all your taps for leaks and have them repaired.
By installing a 3-star kitchen tap, you'll have enough flow to fill your sink, saucepan or water jug quickly - but you'll also save water every time you wash your hands or anything else.
Put the plug in before you rinse plates for the dishwasher, and use that water to soak cutlery or soften residue in your cooking pans.
Put the plug in to rinse fruit and vegetables prior to cooking or eating, and reuse that water - either in your wash up, or to water indoor plants.
When washing dishes, only half fill the kitchen sink.
In the laundry
Just like in your kitchen, your taps and appliances can provide the biggest water savings in the laundry.
The key to water efficiency is a combination of a 3-star laundry tap and at least a 4-star, front loading washing machine. Together, these can save you about 18,000 litres of water each year.
Only put on full loads of laundry, or reduce the machine water level if you're not filling the machine.
Reuse the rinse water from one load to fill the machine next time.
Try to minimise washing:
combine coloured and dark loads
hang pool and beach towels to dry straight on the line after use, and reuse them a few times
wear some items more than once - jumpers, jeans, trousers - before you wash
wash bedding once a fortnight or less
wear dark coloured clothes.
Beware of combination washer-dryers. These machines save space, but some models can be big water users.
Condenser dryers rely on a constant flow of cool water to remove excess heat and evaporated moisture during the drying cycle. The water used for this cooling process isn't reclaimed or stored, it just runs to the drain.
In the bathroom
Make your shower 2 minutes or less.
Put a bucket in the shower to collect water you can reuse to water plants.
Stop-start the shower when washing your hair or shaving.
Change to a 3-star shower head and you could save $50 to $100 a year in water and energy costs.
Consider installing a flow controller if you don’t want to change your shower head. It doesn't change the look of your existing shower head and provides an efficient flow.
Choose new 3-star taps, including lever, mixer and quarter-turn styles. They use about half the amount of water as a standard tap.
Fit an aerator to your tap if you don’t want to change its look. Aerators reduce the flow of water without reducing the pressure. They can reduce the amount of water you use by more than 50%.
Change your single flush toilet to a 4-star dual flush toilet and you'll save about 25,000 litres of water a year.
Make your single flush toilet more water efficient by adjusting the float valve in the cistern or installing a cistern weight.
Adjusting the float valve will reduce the amount of water needed to fill your cistern for each flush.
Using a cistern weight means you control how much water is used for each flush when you hold the button down. Try putting a 2 litre milk container, filled with water, in the cistern.
Check your toilet isn't leaking. Place a small piece of dry toilet paper at the back of the toilet bowl and check that it stays dry until the next flush. You can also place some drops of food dye in the cistern. Toilet cisterns shouldn't release any water between flushes. A leaking toilet can waste over 16,000 litres of water a year.
Ensure the plugs in your bath and basin don't leak. Buy new plugs if the existing ones don't completely seal the drain.
Don't leave the basin tap running while you brush your teeth. Fill a glass for rinsing your mouth and the basin.
When soaping your hands, turn off the water while you lather.
Don't leave the tap running while having a shave. Half-fill the basin with water for rinsing your face and the razor.
Reuse tap water by keeping a container in your basin. Use the water later on garden beds and pot plants.
An instantaneous hot water heater will ensure water stays hot, reducing the need to waste water as you wait for it to heat up.
Look into purchasing taps fitted with infra-red sensors that only run the water when your hands are under the tap.
Your swimming pool during water restrictions
At Severe (Level 4) restrictions, all residential swimming pool top-ups from the town water supply are banned.
Consider finding another water source to top up your pool - rainwater from a tank, or buying and having water delivered from outside the MCC area.
There are plenty of things to do around your pool area to save water - firstly consult your pool supplier on how to minimise water use.
These tips can also greatly reduce water wastage around the pool:
Cover your pool
Evaporation is a major cause of water loss from your swimming pool. it is important to remember that most evaporation occurs in the early evening. One of the easiest and most effective ways of saving water is to use a pool cover. Without a pool cover, over half the water in your pool can evaporate in a year.
There are a number of other benefits too. A pool cover can reduce the need to use chemicals, reduce algal growth, increase the water temperature by reducing heat loss, and reduce general pool maintenance by catching debris and leaves.
Prevent water loss from splashing
Avoid overfilling your pool as this will prevent your filter from working effectively and will cause water to overflow. The water level should be about half way up the skimmer box opening for the filter to function properly. If you wish to allow the water level of your pool to drop below this, you will need to purchase a T-piece suction line which connects to the skimmer box, allowing the filter to function normally.
You should concentrate on keeping the water in the pool. Try the following:
- no bombs or getting out of the pool and jumping back in
- drip dry on the top step so the water goes back into the pool.
Regularly check for leaks
Leaks can easily develop in the pool's membrane and piping. Even a small leak can waste 7000 litres per year. These can be difficult to detect so it is recommended that you have your pipes pressure tested on installation of your pool, then once every three years.
- backwash only when necessary
- check regularly for cracks and leaks
- keep the pool and filters clean to reduce frequency of filter backwashing
- if acid has been used to clean the pool, the water should be neutralised.
How can pool chemicals save water?
By maintaining the correct balance of chemicals in your pool year round, you will prevent your pool water from going green over winter. This means you won't need to empty and refill the pool and it will also prevent you from having to discard polluted water.
Other water saving ideas
Plants - carefully select plants for around the pool to protect your pool from wind, which increases the amount of water lost to evaporation.
Shade cloth - place a shade cloth over the entire pool area. This will reduce evaporation and reduce the risk of sunburn while enjoying your pool.
Skimmer box - keep the water level of your pool halfway up the skimmer opening. Overfilling the pool stops the skimmer working efficiently and wastes water.
Rainwater tank - consider installing a rainwater tank to provide an alternative water supply which can be used to water your garden, wash your car or flush your toilets.
Greywater and how to use it
Greywater is wastewater you can collect from your shower, bath, washing machine rinse cycle, hand basins and laundry tub. It does not include water from the toilet, kitchen sink or dishwasher. Greywater replaces the need to use mains water for watering gardens or lawns, and can potentially save thousands of litres of drinking water each year.
It does contain micro-organisms, chemical and physical contaminants such as nutrients, dirt, lint and sand, so you must keep this in mind and it use it sparingly in the garden to avoid salt or nutrient overload.
Benefits of greywater
Reusing greywater provides a number of benefits - as well as reducing the amount of drinking water you use.
It can help to reduce the amount of treated water discharged to the environment, it can help to irrigate your garden during dry periods and can help to reduce your water bills.
You will need to consider the initial cost of a greywater system and plumbing requirements.
If you wish to use untreated greywater (straight from your showers, baths and washing machines) in your garden, you can chose to either use a bucket or install a sub-surface irrigation system. Untreated water can only be irrigated using a sub-surface system, where the irrigation is buried at least 10cm below the surface of soil or mulch.
There are systems that can be purchased that can be connected to plumbing in your home to allow for the treatment of greywater and for its reuse in flushing toilets, washing machines and surface irrigation.
Greywater systems vary greatly in price, depending on the complexity of the system and the intended end-use for the water. A simple diverter can cost under $100, while complete treatment systems can cost several thousand dollars.
Do I need approval?
Customers are advised to contact us to determine what approvals they may need for greywater diversion devices.
For greywater diversion devices, any installations connected permanently to the house drainage are required to be inspected by MidCoast Council, as we have the responsibility of ensuring the installation of greywater devices meet the appropriate plumbing standards.
How to use greywater properly
- maintain your system to ensure it is working correctly
- use low phosphorus detergents
- diverted greywater (untreated) should only be used on the garden and not always in the same spot
- apply diverted greywater to the garden by a below ground seepage pipe. This will reduce human exposure to the water
- Use greywater only during prolonged warm, dry periods: use only what you need to meet the plant's water requirements
- ensure greywater is diverted to the sewer during wet periods
- Install a diversion system that is 'fail-safe', where the greywater will automatically be diverted to the sewer if the greywater system blocks or malfunctions
- Stop using greywater if you smell odours and your plants do not appear to be healthy
- wash your hands after watering with greywater and after gardening in greywater irrigated areas
- use less fertiliser when irrigating with greywater
- ensure greywater does not contaminate any source of drinking water: extreme care must be taken to ensure there is no cross-connection between the greywater re-use system and the drinking water supply
- never water vegetable gardens if the crop is to be eaten raw
- never use greywater that has faecal contamination, for example: wastewater used to wash nappies
- never store untreated greywater for more than 24 hours
- never drink greywater or allow children or pets to drink or play with greywater
- never allow greywater to flow beyond your property boundary or enter stormwater systems
- do not use kitchen wastewater (including dishwashers) - it contains highly concentrated food wastes and chemicals that are not readily broken down by soil organisms
- do not allow greywater to pool or stagnate as this will attract insects and rodents, which may transmit disease
- never top up a rainwater tank or swimming pool with greywater
WELS star water ratings
To encourage people to buy water-efficient products, there is a national standard for water-using products.
The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme, rates products on its water efficiency and performance.
Mandatory labelling applies to new washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, tapware and showerheads.
For more information go to www.waterrating.gov.au