World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about focusing attention on the importance of water. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.
Damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home; affecting their health, education and livelihoods.
Sustainable Development Goal 6 commits the world to ensuring that everyone has access to safe water by 2030, and includes targets on protecting the natural environment and reducing pollution.
Environmental damage, together with climate change, is driving the water-related crises we see around the world. Floods, drought and water pollution are all made worse by degraded vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes.
When we neglect our ecosystems, we make it harder to provide everyone with the water we need to survive and thrive.
Nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We need to do so much more with ‘green’ infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.
Why do we need to save water?
97.5% of the world’s water is locked in seas and oceans, too salty for human use. And most of the remaining 2.5% is in the ice caps.
So we humans depend on the tiny bit available as fresh water – an essential natural resource for life.
But we don’t just use water for drinking. We wash in it, clean with it, and use it to produce everything from clothing to food. Fresh water supplies are being used faster than ever for crop production – including feed for livestock and biofuels.
1. Turn off the taps
Don’t let your water consumption run out of control. Save 6 litres of water a minute by turning off your tap while you brush your teeth. Fix leaky taps too – and stop what could be 60 litres of water going straight down the drain every week.
2. Boil what you need
Save water, money and energy by only boiling as many cups of water as you need.
3. Shower with less
Every minute you spend in a power shower uses up to 17 litres of water . Set a timer on your phone to keep your showers short, sweet and water-saving.
Switching to an efficient shower head will allow you to lather up in less water, which means you’ll save water and cut your bills.
4. Save up your dirty clothes
Washing a full machine load of clothes uses less water and energy than 2 half-loads . This means lower bills as well.
5. Eat less meat
Rearing animals for meat and dairy is incredibly water-intensive. By cutting down on the amount of meat you eat, you can slash your water use drastically.
6. Steam your veggies
Steam your food to cut water usage and retain more of the natural nutrients.
If you do boil, try using the leftover water as a tasty stock for soups. Or let it cool and use it to water plants.
7. Time your gardening
A great water-saving tip is to water outdoor plants in the early morning or at the end of the day. This stops water immediately evaporating in sunlight and heat.
Water onto the soil rather than leaves so that the liquid goes straight to the roots, where it’s needed.
8. Catch rainwater
Installing water butts saves up to 5,000 litres of water a year . And your plants will thank you for rainwater rather than treated tap water.
You can also cut water use by 33% by watering plants manually instead of using automatic sprinklers.
9. No more washing up
Incredibly, if you fill up the dishwasher completely each time you run it, you’ll use less water than you would doing the washing up. Yes, even if you’re using a washing-up bowl. What better excuse to go and have a nice sit down?
10. Be plumbing prepared
Regularly check your kitchen pipes and the dishwasher hose for slow leaks.
Find out where your household stop valve is and make sure that you can turn it on and off. You’ll thank us if you ever have a burst pipe – because you’ll be able to cut off the flow before it floods the house.