Why water conservation is important
Water prices are increasing rapidly, with a 73% increase in usage charges in just three years and increasing demand for water has intensified pressure on current supplies. Other important factors to consider when reviewing water consumption is the amount of electricity used to pump and supply our towns and cities with water. Saving water therefore indirectly saves energy.
The 4 basic steps to conserving water in the workplace are to:
1. RECORD how much is used from your PowerWater invoices
2. Set TARGETS to reduce consumption
3. Track PROGRESS against targets from subsequent invoices
4. Give FEEDBACK to your colleagues and staff – e.g. with posters in bathrooms celebrating achievements and water savings
Save water from leaking taps and pipes – Check for major leaks routinely
It is very important to make sure there are no major leaks on your property. Follow these steps to check for leaks:
- When it is appropriate turn off all water sources for 1 hour
- Read the water meter and write down the kL figure on the meter
- In one hour check the water meter again. If the reading has increased, and no water was turned on during the one hour experiment, then you may have a water leak
Further tips to consider:
- Make ‘leak reporting’ the responsibility of maintenance staff or cleaners and develop a system for them to pass on this information (for example putting a note with the problem and date it was identified on the staff notice board)
- Have the contact details of Power and Water Corporation for staff to report leaks. Depending on the nature of the leak and where it has occurred on the property, Power and Water Corporation will tell you the course of action to take. Call 1800 245 092
- Conduct routine inspections of the workplace property grounds and storm water pits to observe damp areas or unexpected flows to the drain
- If your workplace has a continual use of water you may have data loggers on the meters. Check these to make sure there are no anomalies or major leaks
Conserving Water Inside
- Install or retrofit water efficient devices in your workplace, such as water efficient shower heads, dual flush toilets, waterless urinals, aerators and flow controllers on taps
- Report, fix and followup on dripping taps in the workplace
- Never leave taps running when water is not needed
- When washing dishes fill the sink rather than washing under running water
- Place ‘CONSERVE WATER’ posters and stickers around the workplace
Save Water Outside
- Instead of hosing down the driveway and car parks use a broom
- Choose local native plants rather than exotic ones as they will be tolerant to the local environmental conditions
- Use drip-reticulation techniques as water will be delivered directly to the roods where it is needed
- If the watering is done automatically make sure it is on a timer and that areas aren’t watered for longer then 15 minutes each
- If you use a hose for watering the garden always use a trigger nozzle
- Use mulch on the garden bed as it minimizes water evaporation
- Don’t water the garden if it has been raining
How to use your invoice to set improvement targets
Understanding the information contained in your water invoices is important because you can’t reduce what you can’t measure. Take these steps to set improvement goals:
- Choose a ‘start date’ which corresponds to the beginning of your water efficiency journey (i.e. the day you begin attempting to reduce water consumption in your organisation)
- Write down all of the water reduction measures that your workplace will be committing to (use the tips listed in this quick guide)
- Take out the organisation’s past invoices (at least 12 months worth) and write down the total kilo-liters (kL) consumed and the total amount due ($) during each period. Be sure to take note of the month and year so you can see how it fluctuates over time. It is also a good idea to record the data in a spreadsheet so you can automatically graph the results.
- Each time a new invoice comes in write down the total kWh consumed and amount ($) due in that current period.
- Check the consumption on the current invoice against the figure you noted for the same time in the previous year and ask “Has this increased?”
- You may have to spend money to create long term savings, so prepare costings and projected savings over a 2,5 and 10 year period.
- It may take time for reductions to appear because water reduction is as much about changing people’s behaviours as retrofitting bathrooms with water-less urinals, water saving shower heads and dual flush toilets.
- Use the kL and $$ figures to motivate your colleagues to change their behaviours.
- Always display the information in your water invoice around the office in a simple and clear way
- If you calculate a reduction make sure you tell your colleagues about it. This should encourage your colleagues to do more (think of it like telling a student to study for an exam and never giving them their exam score)
- Setting challenges for your workplace may also help motivate staff. For instance, set a goal for a 5, 10, 15 or 20% reduction in water consumption on your next invoice
- And most importantly, good environmental ethics and attitudes around the workplace are just as important as other water reduction measures you put in place. An example of this is simply showing your colleagues how much water was used in the most recent billing period.