The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced an official state of drought for much of the southern and eastern parts of England. Will you take up the challenge to save water?
When I wrote my Conversation about how much water you could save by cutting your shower time in half, commenter Janice asked:
‘Since when was saving water such an imperative in Britain? I know it’s been a bit dry this year, but normally we can rely on plenty of rain, and I’m never sure why we should be so careful with the wet stuff.’
Well, now we know why. Due to very low rainfall for the past two years, areas from Hampshire and all the way up to Lincolnshire are in drought. In fact, groundwater levels are lower than the dry summer of 1976 (I’m taking their word for that, as I’m afraid I don’t remember it).
It’s not just about water suppliers
So, how are we going to get through this drought (which some have warned will become the norm for the South East)? Well, aside from the bombastic idea to pipe water from the wet north down to the dry south, water companies are planning hosepipe bans from early spring.
But we’re all being asked to do more than just limit our use of water outdoors. Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said after this week’s drought summit:
‘It is not just the responsibility of government, water companies and businesses to act against drought. We are asking for the help of everyone by urging them to use less water and to start now.’
So, are you going to take up the challenge to save water? If so, how? There’s lots you can do, such as fixing leaky taps, or fitting a water-saving ‘hippo’ in your toilet’s cistern to cut the amount of water you use to flush.
In fact, old toilets – like the ones in my house – use so much water when they’re flushed. Toilets made before 1993 apparently typically use about 9.5 litres to flush. That compares to around 7.5 litres for toilets made after 1993. You can even get loos that use as little as two litres per flush, so it might be worth an upgrade.
Simple water saving steps
On a more day-to-day level you can cut water usage by: turning off the tap when you brush your teeth; drinking from a jug in the fridge rather than waiting for your tap to run cold; and fully filling your washing machine rather than doing more smaller washes. And commenter Lessismore even thinks we should wash less often:
‘Why do we feel we need to wash so often nowadays? What was wrong with the twice daily wash and weekly bath? […] We seem to be showering/bathing every day and washing our clothes after each time we wear them.’
Now, to stop myself from becoming too preachy – I’m not the best at saving water myself. One of my big sins is doing the washing up with a running tap, rather than putting soapy water in a bowl – I just prefer clean running water to my dishes floating around in their own muck.
Still, that’s on my list of bad habits to change. Are there any water-wasting habits you’re looking to break in order to get us all through this drought?