NPDC pro tips: How to keep water use to 83 litres a day

Local News

We all love those long, hot summers. It’s time for the beach and cricket and jandals and ice cream.

It’s also time to think about how we use our water.

This is the time of year when we use the most water but it’s also when the streams and rivers that supply us are running at their lowest.

To keep our streams and rivers at a healthy level for fish and other animals and plants and to ensure we have enough fresh clean drinking water for our growing population, NPDC wants each of us to be a Wai Warrior. We have water restrictions in place from 1 January to 31 March every year. (You can find out more about them here.)

Did you know that on average each person in our district still uses 292 litres of water every day? In my household we’ve managed to get our daily use down to 83L per person, so I’m sharing some easy tips that everyone can apply at home.

Those drips add up!

Sneaky leaks seem small but you could be losing more water than you realise. The double-flush on our toilet cistern was broken and water was running down the back, and the hot-water cylinder was also leaking (which also wasted money on heating excess water). Fixing them both means we aren’t wasting a precious resource.

Underground leaks are harder to spot, so look for these signs outside your house:

  • An unusual wet patch in the garden that that doesn’t dry up when it stops raining.
  • An area that’s mouldy, soft, green or mossy that’s surrounded by dryer soil.
  • Paved areas (such as driveways) cracking, rising up or slumping.
  • Potholes or sink-holes appearing.
  • A noticeable drop in the flow of water out of your taps.
  • An ongoing sound of water going through a pipe even when no taps are running.

A plumber will be able to identify the leak and get it fixed. However if a leak is on a road or footpath, please report it to NPDC.

Make the water work

A good place to start saving water is in the home. We only use the washing machine and dishwater when we have full loads, and we don’t let the tap run while brushing our teeth – it gets turned off until it’s needed. A running tap can waste a lot of water, especially if everyone in the household does it morning and night while teeth-cleaning.

We also reuse water from the kitchen to water plants.

No easy escape

Gardens use up a lot of water – not just because of thirsty plants, but also because we lose a lot to evaporation (up to 70 per cent!). The key is to trap water in the garden, and the best way to do that is to mulch. 

There are heaps of different mulch you can use: wood chips or shredded leaves, grass clippings, compost, and straw or hay all return nutrients to the garden while reducing evaporation; black plastic sheets will keep the soil warm (great for crops like strawberries and melons but not so much for shrubs); and landscape fabrics are also useful.

Short showers

Did you know that showers can use between six and 20L of water per minute, depending on the shower-head? We get plenty clean with short showers, and we run shallow baths for our two-year-old.

Keeping track

We volunteered to have a water meter so we keep track of how effective our water habits are. Also, if the meter starts reporting a higher use we’ll know it’s likely there’s a leak somewhere – and the earlier we track it down and fix it, the less that gets wasted (and possibly the less damage that’s done to our property).

Finally, I have a Wai Warrior tip for you: if you don’t have a half-flush button on your toilet cistern, try the milk-bottle trick!

Fill an empty 1L milk bottle with dirt or sand, screw the lid on tight, open your toilet cistern and flush it. As the water drains out, pop your milk bottle in there (avoiding the flushing mechanism). Now every time the toilet is flushed, you save 1L of water.

Our rivers and our fish life would approve!
Denise Rowland
NPDC Three Waters Education Officer