Prospect of hot summer brings water conservation message from Council

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Published: 05 Nov 2013

The possibility of above average temperatures and near or below average rainfall over summer on the east coast of the South Island, as predicted by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Science in its latest seasonal outlook, has again raised the spectre of water conservation in South Canterbury.

While we all might relish the thought of not having to put up with puddles, mud-caked gumboots, snow and rain as summer 2013-14 arrives, properties and gardens might not feel the same way.

With the coinciding demand for irrigation and watering of thirsty stock in the rural sector and the hosing of domestic lawns and gardens in our urban centres, the need for water management takes on a new meaning for most of us.

Not so, however, for Timaru District Council Utility Operations Engineer Judy Blakemore. Mrs Blakemore is preparing for another season of high demand on Timaru District's water supplies and offers advice and suggestions that would help to minimise the effect of water shortages in the district.

Some of these suggestions are basic, like fixing leaking taps and using a trigger hose so water is not gushing away while you are soaping up the car.

But some are quite innovative, Mrs Blakemore says.

Here's one: Dehumidifiers are an excellent source of water. Reusing it to water your plants is a great alternative to wasting it by dumping it down the drain or toilet.

"This is such a simple way to extract and use water that is already in our atmosphere," she says.

And another: Throughout the day we drink several glasses of water. But instead of putting the glass into the dishwasher after each use, simply refill the one that you have already used, or put a drink bottle in the fridge. This will cut down on the many glasses used throughout the day, which means there are fewer glasses to wash.

Mrs Blakemore says that generally people are well aware of the value of our water and have a proud record of conservation when asked to by the council.

But she says water conservation should always be a priority whether or not restrictions are imposed.

"Now with so many water conservation items that are more available, like low-flow showerheads, tap aerators, rain barrels, and water efficient washing machines and dishwashers , there really isn't an excuse for us to not be more conscious," Mrs Blakemore said.

She offers the following tips and suggestions to save precious Timaru District water supplies when summer bites:

  • Use the dishwasher and washing machine only when full;
  • Reduce the flow from the older style of toilet cistern by putting a brick or plastic bottle filled with water in the cistern;
  • Don't wash your vegetables under running water;
  • Don't run the tap when you are brushing your teeth,
  • Stop that dripping tap;
  • Shower instead of having a bath;
  • Use a dual-flush toilet, you can use only half the water when needed;
  • Check for leaks – a leaking toilet can waste more than 16,000 litres in a year. Even a slow drip from a tap can waste 200 or more litres in a day.

Mrs Blakemore said water restrictions that banned the use of hoses and sprinklers were only applied when absolutely necessary and when all other options had been exhausted.

"Usually it's during the type of long, hot summer predicted for this year.

"However, it is possible that with community co-operation and common sense we could avoid the need for high level restrictions.

"Instead of washing those delicious vegetables under a running tap, fill a pot instead. Not only will you save a large amount of water, but the water in the pot can also be reused to water your plants," Mrs Blakemore said.

"And remember hoses are not play things. Children squirting water at each can waste up to 1000 litres of water every hour."

Publish Date: 05 Nov 2013