It is Water Saving Week and we’re all being encouraged to think a little harder about where our water comes from, and what we can do to use a little less at home and at work. Erratic weather patterns, population increases and lifestyle changes are all putting pressure on our water supplies so it is more important than ever we take care how we use water. We certainly won’t be able to achieve WaterLIFE’s goal of ‘healthy rivers for people and nature’ without doing so.
Water Saving Week
This is the second year Waterwise (a leading authority on water efficiency) has run Water Saving Week. Last year, the Environment Agency, water companies and Energy Saving Trust were among the many organisations that took part. Meat free days and field trips were just some of the activities organised to promote it. There’s a round-up of what happened on the Waterwise website.
Leaky loos and power showers
Working in the water sector, I like to think I am probably more aware of water efficiency issues and the need to save water than most people. In that vein, I decided to challenge myself and see how much water I could save at home.
I ordered a selection of free water saving goodies from my water company – a shower timer, dye tablets to see if we had a leaky loo, a shower head designed to save water and a kitchen swivel tap to reduce the volume of water coming from the tap. I was quite excited when all the gadgets turned up actually, but they were the easy part – they do the job for you. The hard part was changing my housemates’ behaviour. Trying to convince people to have shorter showers when it’s cold and frosty outside, turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, or waiting for a full load until you switch on the washing machine even though you really want to wear that top tomorrow.
Sometimes it helps to think about the bigger picture, and why we need to save water in the first place, aside from the money you can save on your energy bills.
What have our rivers ever done for us?
Most of the water we use comes from a river. But why should we care about them? This list could be very long. But, for brevity, here are just a few reasons why healthy rivers matter so much.
- We rely on them for food and water. Put simply, we need our rivers to survive.
- They’ve shaped our history – many of the towns and landscapes we love have been sculpted because of the river that runs through them. London’s fame and fortune owes much to the Thames, which served (and still serves) as an important transport and trade route.
- Support a diverse array of wildlife – think of the vibrant colours of a kingfisher or a salmon leaping from the water’s surface. Rivers are home to many different species of fish, mammals, birds and plants that we can’t afford to be without.
- Provide a space for fun and recreation – whether it is angling, canoeing or swimming, many of us use our rivers for much more than water.
However, only 17% of rivers in England are healthy and they face many pressures. Too much water is taken from them for homes, business and agriculture, they suffer from pollution, and they have been physically modified and changed. Taking positive action now can help to ensure that rivers are healthy and can supply enough water to go round – for us, for businesses and for the environment. This is particularly poignant given it is UN World Water Day tomorrow, 22 March.
To make this a reality, it’s crucial that the right messages reach us at the right time – whether this is advice so we can save money on our water and energy bills, or information about the health of local river and how we can make a difference. This will mean we know what action we can take, and why it’s needed.
During Water Saving Week, each day is focused on a theme – water in schools, work, home, the community and garden. The aim of the Week is to share tips, facts and create a conversation on why and how we can save water.
Visit the Waterwise website and download a Water Saving Week pack. You can also get involved on social media by following @waterwise and using the hashtag #watersavingweek.
Did I complete my mission and save water in my home? I’m not on a meter so I can’t tell you exactly how much I saved in litres, but I can pretty confidently say yes. The tips Waterwise offered were simple – using a shower timer, order a few water-saving devices and the like – but that’s why they worked. Overall behaviour change might take time, but as individuals we can all start to take simple, positive steps and do our bit for water. So – go on – why not challenge yourself and see how much water you can save!