Water efficiency

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Water efficiency is reducing water wastage by measuring the amount of water required for a particular purpose and the amount of water used or delivered.1 Water efficiency differs from water conservation in that it focuses on reducing waste, not restricting use.2 It also emphasises the influence consumers can have in water efficiency by making small behavioural changes to reduce water wastage and by choosing more water efficient products.

Examples of water efficient steps includes fixing leaking taps, taking showers rather than baths, installing displacements devices inside toilet cisterns, and using dishwashers and washing machines with full loads. These are things that fall under the definition of water efficiency, as their purpose is to obtain the desired result or level of service with the least necessary water.1

Importance

According to the Second UN World Water Development Report, if present levels of consumption continue, two-thirds of the global population will live in areas of water stress by 2025.3 Increasing human demand for water coupled with the effects of climate change mean that the future of our water supply is not secure. As of now, 2.6 billion people do not have safe drinking water. Added to this, are the changes in climate, population growth and lifestyles. The changes in human lifestyle and activities require more water per capita. This tightens the competition for water amongst agricultural, industrial, and human consumption.4

Organizations

In most countries, people have recognized this growing water scarcity problem. Water efficiency, while not yet a major priority in the agendas of governments, has been a growing concern. Global organizations like the World Water Council,4 the International Water Management Institute,5 and UNESCO6 have been promoting water efficiency alongside water conservation.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency, Waterwise, the California Urban Water Conservation Council, the Savewater! Alliance and Smart WaterMark in Australia, and the WaterBucket in Canada are some non-governmental organizations that promote or support water efficiency at national and regional levels.

Governmental organisations such as Environment Canada, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Environment Agency in the United Kingdom, the Department of the Environment and Water Resources in Australia, among others, have recognized and created policies and strategies to raise water efficiency awareness. US EPA created its WaterSense program to encourage water efficiency in the United States through the use of a special label on consumer products.

The People's Republic of China has put forward a 5-year plan (2010-2015) at a cost of Y500 billion ($78.1 billion) to Y600 billion ($93.7 billion) to upgrade most of the 4,000 water plants in China. The government hopes these steps will help to better conserve water and meet demands.7

The Indian state of Haryana, has implemented State Rural Water Policy 2012; under this policy individual household metered connections would be provided to 50% of the rural population by 2017, to stop water wastage in villages.8

A part of the industry sector has also recognised the benefits of water efficiency. Such journals as the Water Efficiency Journal9 from the US, Water Efficient Solutions Journal10 and Water Energy and Environment11 Magazine from the UK, all mainly directed towards the industrial and professional sectors, attest to the growing consciousness of the need to develop more water efficient solutions.

Water efficient solutions

Residential

According to Waterwise, here are some simple ways to be more water efficient at home:12

  • Turning off the tap while brushing teeth- a running tap can waste over six liters per minute.
  • Putting a "hippo" or other displacement device into the toilet cistern.
  • Fixing dripping taps. A dripping tap wastes thousands of litres of water a year.
  • Using a full load in the dishwasher and washing machine. A person should be sure to buy a water efficient model when buying a new machine.
  • Having a short shower instead of a bath.
  • Washing fruits and vegetables in a bowl rather than under a running tap.
  • Using the leftover water to feed houseplants.
  • Using a watering can or a hosepipe with a trigger nozzle instead of a sprinkler.
  • Using a bucket and sponge when washing the car rather than a running hosepipe.
  • Using little amounts of water at every time
  • Washing clothing or linens in washing machines rather than washing by hand

Consumers can also voluntarily or with utility or government incentives or mandates purchase water-efficient appliances, such as low-flush toilets and front-loading washers. Greywater can be recycled for toilet flushing or garden use.

Manufacturing

According to Savewater!, these are solutions useful to manufacturers:13

  • Identifying and eliminating wastage (such as leaks) and inefficient processes (such as continual spray devices on stop-start production lines). This may be the most low cost area for water savings, as it involves minimal capital outlay. Savings can be made through implementing procedural changes, such as cleaning plant areas with brooms rather than water.
  • Changing processes and plant machinery. A retrofit of key plant equipment may increase efficiency. Alternatively, upgrades to more efficient models can be factored into planned maintenance and replacement schedules.
  • Reusing wastewater. As well as saving on mains water, this option may improve the reliability of supply, whilst reducing trade waste charges and associated environmental risks.

Waterless products

  • Using waterless car wash products to wash cars, boats, motorcycles and bicycles. This could save up to 150 gallons of water per wash.

Utilities

According to US EPA, here are some ideas for communities and utilities:14

  • Implementing a water-loss management program (e.g. locate and repair leaks).
  • Utilities should strive for universal metering.
  • Ensuring that fire hydrants are tamper proof.
  • Equipment changes - Setting a good example by using water efficient equipment.
  • Installing faucet aerators and low flow shower heads in municipal buildings.
  • Replace worn out plumbing fixtures, appliances and equipment with water-saving models.
  • Minimizing the water used in space cooling equipment in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations. Shut off cooling units when not needed.

Utilities can also modify their billing software to track customers who have taken advantage of various utility sponsored water conservation initiatives (toilet rebates, irrigation rebates, etc.) to see which initiatives provide the greatest water savings for the least cost.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Vickers, Amy. “Water Use and Conservation.” Amherst, MA Waterplow Press. June 2002. 434
  2. ^ [1] Waterwise
  3. ^ The 2nd UN World Water Development Report: ‘Water, a shared responsibility’
  4. ^ a b WWC
  5. ^ IWMI IWMI
  6. ^ UNESCO Water
  7. ^ Chinese Business Review: Water
  8. ^ Water Preservation in Rural India http://iharnews.com/index.php/government/231-haryana-rural-water-policy-2012
  9. ^ Water Efficiency Journal
  10. ^ Water Efficient Solutions Journal
  11. ^ Water Energy and Environment
  12. ^ Waterwise
  13. ^ Savewater!
  14. ^ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Washington, D.C. "Using Water Efficiently: Ideas for Communities." March 28, 2008.

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