Urban water wastage can occur as follows:
- Leaky systems such as taps, toilet cisterns, showerheads.
- Running tap while shaving or brushing teeth.
- Bathing rather than showering.
- Use of inefficient washing machines, dishwashers, toilet flushing systems and shower-heads.
- Using garden hose to clean large surface areas such as paves, decks, verandas, walls or driveways.
- Washing car for prolonged period or with running hose.
- Excessive garden or lawn irrigation.
- Use of large pools or swimming pools.
Urban wastage of water can result in the following negative environmental effects with increased
- sewage water discharge as a result of high water input;
- cost of treating sewage water;
- adverse effects on stream flows or groundwater levels which in turn may affect assimilation capacity and freshwater habitats;
- leaching of nutrients from home gardens and lawns; and
- runoff to urban storm water system and discharge to waterway or coast.
Following measures should reduce or avoid water wastage in reticulated water supply areas:
Reduce water use. If your water is supplied by your district or city council it has been treated chemically (there are exceptions to this, for example Christchurch water supply is from deep aquifers and hence would not require chemical treatment) to drinking water quality and therefore overuse or wastage of water will result in costly water supply or increasing use of water treatment chemicals (see what involves in water treatment at the Wikipedia site).
Reduced use of urban water will also reduce pressure on waterways or aquifers where water is taken for water supply. In New Zealand there are only four councils that manage metered water supply. As most people believe, metered water supplies are not primarily for revenue gathering purpose. Water meters tend to promote and improve water use efficiency. It has been well documented that people tend to avoid water wastage under metered water supply. When water meters are introduced in a non-metered area a substantial reduction (e.g. 30%) in water use can be expected. If we are all careful and responsible in avoiding water wastage we can potentially avoid metered water supplies.
Install water efficient washing machines, dishwashers, showerheads and toilet flushing systems. There is Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) in operation in New Zealand (refer Ministry for the Environment WELS site for further info). Enquire for the WELS label from your retailer when you purchase a new dish washer or washing machine.
Detect all water leakages (tap, toilet flushing systems) and get them fixed.
Avoid using garden hoses to clean driveways, decks or any large surface areas. Use brooms or blowers for dry cleaning. If wet cleaning is necessary use water blasters since they use less water per area.
If using garden or lawn sprinklers use timers or be vigilant to avoid excessive irrigation. In warm/hot and dry summer areas select garden plants (including lawn grass) that demand less water.