The third theme in our Green Schools Programme is ‘Water’
Outlined below are a number of ideas for conserving water.
No/Low Cost Options
Behaviour: The first step is to raise awareness and try to improve behaviour, both in the school and in the home. Making people think how they can reduce their own water consumption can be very effective. Some good examples on simple ways to save water are listed below. Further examples can be found on the http://www.taptips.ie/ website
Leaks and Drips: Any leakage occurring in pipes will waste water. Leaking taps can usually be repaired simply by replacing worn washers. The prompt repairing of drips, leaks, jammed or faulty taps will save water and money.
Washroom Taps: If the flow rate of taps is too strong, it can be adjusted to ‘just adequate.’ Self-closing or percussion taps that close automatically after a preset period could be used instead of conventional screw taps to effectively reduce water consumption. Taps with spray heads can reduce water consumption by up to 50%, but like spray taps require regular maintenance.
Toilets: Ensure that urinal cisterns flush at the minimum frequency required and consider installing control devices. It is important that any reductions in volume are not carried out at the expense of effective flushing.
Hot Water Supplies: Hot water taps and showers can be a big source of water and energy loss. Keep runs of pipework short and lag pipes properly. This helps insure hot water comes through after a short period of time.
Outside: Water butts can be used to collect rainwater, which is better for plants. Although not necessarily contributing huge amounts to overall savings, the application of water saving ideas to gardens can help develop good life-long habits and raise awareness of the value and role of water for life. It is important however to always be concerned with safety when dealing with water butts.
Conserving Water at Home:
- turn off the taps when washing your teeth – you can save 6 litres of water.
- take a shower not a bath – don’t use power showers as a 10 minute shower uses as much water as 3 baths!
- fill the kettle for the right amount – you can save energy as well!
- use waste water from dish washing to water your plants
- never use a hose pipe in your garden
- use your dish washer and washing machine only when they are full thus saving energy as well!
Cleaning Practices: The use of environmentally friendly detergents and washing-up liquids are becoming more widespread and is a practice that can be relatively easy to introduce.
Toilets: urinals and toilets are convenient and tempting places to flush things down. Blocked or otherwise dysfunctional toilets are one of the worst problems, yet they often receive the least attention.
Laboratories: advice on disposal of chemicals and other potentially harmful materials is available from your Local Authority. The basic rule is that everything that goes down the sink should be treated (e.g. neutralised) to nonharmful levels before disposal.
Facts and Figures
- 99% of the world’s water cannot be used because it is either saline (i.e. salt water) or is locked up in glaciers and ice sheets.
- Most of the remaining water is present in rocks as groundwater (approx. 0.6%), while just over 0.3% is present in rivers and lakes.
- Rapid expansion in urban populations has resulted in increased pressure on Local Authority waste water treatment facilities and, in many instances, the inability to cope with the increasing volumes of waste generated.
- A tap dripping once a second wastes about 10,000 litres of water a year.
- A hosepipe or sprinkler can use 1,000 litres (or 1 tonne) of water per hour. This is as much as a family of four would normally use in two days!
- Our own bodies are two thirds water and our brains are at least 85% water!
- A person can survive a month without food, but can only survive 5 or 6 days without water.
- A powershower uses almost 125 litres of water in 5 minutes. That’s a massive 250 litres in 10 minutes!
- Shortage of water could lead to major political conflicts around the world.Over 20 countries depend on the flow of water from other countries for their water supply e.g. Ethiopia.
- The World Bank estimates that by 2025 1.4billion people in 48 countries may experience water stress or scarcity.