Posts Tagged ‘Water Conservation’

Saving a Rainy Day

Few islanders who had gone to the nearest 24/7 for water, bread and a newspaper were seen again.

Few islanders who had gone to the nearest 24/7 for water, bread and a newspaper were seen again.

Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.’ I was reminded of the ancient mariner when I lived on a remote south pacific island for seven months. Like the ancient mariner there was nothing but ocean in every direction and going to the supermarket for bottled water was a, six day round trip of 3500 nautical miles at US$1500 each way.  The only supply of fresh water on the island was determined solely by rainfall and a few natural springs.

For generations the islanders dug storage wells in the ground, and the surrounding hills were a spaghetti network of  pipes and hoses bringing water down from the springs to the homes.  But more recently water tanks that could contain up to 25,000 liters of water are used to store the water running off the roofs, providing the cleanest supply of water for drinking, washing, cooking and cleaning.

But, during the long dry summer months rainfall on the island could be months apart and agricultural demand for water has placed increased demand on the springs ability to supply water – and on occasion the springs run dry, leaving only the household tanks to supply all the water needs.

Water tanks enable the community’s survival.  But, in a broader context the islands water issues typify some of the water problems faced around the world, since climate extremes now mean water is scarcer in temperate climates like the islands.  For the 40 – 50 people inhabitants of the island, water conservation is a way of life.   For example few homes had flush toilets, most had  ‘fragrant’, bug infested, old fashioned out-houses as a standard feature of most homes. (Never a pleasure to visit at 2am)

The islanders had also developed an ingenious system of a gravity feed hot water system involving a 44-gallon oil drum, referred to as a copper – a term dating back to the old copper pots that was used to heat water in over an open fire. The cold water from the water tank forced the heated water up and out of the drum and into the house. (Definitely a future man-cave project.)

The Islanders attention to water-quality and testing was second to none.

The Islanders attention to water-quality and testing was second to none.

Now back in the ‘civilisation’ it’s hard not to notice how much water there is in abundance, thanks to regular rainfall supplying the reservoirs, lakes, and rivers. Right outside the sub-urban ‘man-cave’ there’s even a natural spring that flows into a storm water drain, part of me would love to harness this in someway instead of it all going to waste.

Especially now with increasingly hotter summers and dryer winters, there’s a greater need to move towards water conservation and management around the home. Some local council’s have been progressive thinking and like on the island encourage the use of water tanks for storing rainfall as opposed to just issuing water restrictions.

So it’s still in the planning stages, but I’m slowly collecting the parts to make a good rain water collection tank (rain barrel.) I’m hoping with some resourcefulness to do the project under NZ$100.  I’m also hoping to do this to set an example for my friends and family members, and for them to start thinking about doing the same – before there’s a need to resort to out-houses again, which is one part of the island lifestyle I don’t miss.

An average person uses about 123 gallons (466 liters) of water daily. Some individual household activities and the amount of water they consume are listed below:

Activity                                               Water used
Shower                                                 15-30 gallons (57-114 liters)
Brushing teeth                                  (water running) 1-2 gallons (3.75-7.51 liters)
Shaving                                                (water running) 10-15 gallons (38-57 liters)
Washing dishes by hand                20 gallons (75 liters)
Washing dishes in dishwasher     9-12 gallons (34-45 liters)
Flushing toilet                                    5-7 gallons (19-26 liters)

For further information vist

UN statistics for water around the world

Where to buy a water tank in New Zealand

This guy makes a cool rain barrel – it’s a good example of what to aim for.