Stop Short-termism On Water Usage

water waste

While the ground may still be sodden after the rain in 2012, it is important not to let ourselves think that we don’t need to conserve water in this country because just a year ago we were facing a drought and recent opinion from the Environment Agency is that we may face a future of drought and flooding which will be unpredictable and hard to plan for.

No longer can we focus on the short term only – we may or may not be heading for a drought this year but we’ve seen how quickly weather patterns can change over our skies and if we can mitigate the worst effects by using water efficiently then we can not only prevent drought, we can save money too.

Not only can you save money on your water bill but because so much of our water usage is linked to warm or hot water (think showers, baths and of course central heating), using less water means using less gas and electricity which means lower energy bills too.

Furthermore, as I have talked about before, extremes of weather can play havoc with farming as crops fail which normally leads to higher food prices as they are doing in the US after their severe drought. Conserving water so that we can deal with drought is a preventative measure that can save everyone money.

Unfortunately, most people in this country don’t think too much about water reduction as can be seen by the usage figures – public water usage fell by just 6.4% between 2000 and 2011 despite all the drives to get people to use less.

So What Can We Do?

This time last year I wrote a post about saving water but it goes much further than just fitting a new shower head or buying a water butt; we have to redefine our relationship with water.

Right now some 60% of households pay their water bill and can use as much water as they want but many want to see a wider installation of water meters which cut usage in homes by 10-15% and force people to think more carefully about the impact of leaving their tap running or spending half an hour in the shower.

Education

Kids are like sponges and they really soak up what they are told and you’ll often find that they are the best ambassadors for change. I know my niece tells my brother to recycle at home and I’m sure she’d do the same with a water saving message too given half a chance.

That is where companies such as GabiH2O come in. They go into schools around London and get the kids involved in learning about water; they make things fun and interactive and the kids are taught why wasting water is so bad and what they can do to prevent it.

Imagine all of these children going home to their parents and telling them off when the tap is left running or when the dishwasher isn’t filled before use and then multiply this across a whole country and you’ve got an army of water savers.

GabiH2O also work with Nikelodeon to make the message come alive in the form of an animated, musical ad which you can see below.

Education for adults is important too because it is adults who are responsible for much of the wasted water in this country so while having the younger generations on board and spreading the message is one thing, we need to be able to engage with adults on a level that will make them sit up and take notice.

Cost is the most obvious way to go because, as I have alluded to before, people are most interested in themselves and their own situation rather than the wider environment and society in general. By showing people how much money they could save by reducing their water usage, you might actually persuade them to make the changes necessary.

Can The Government Do Anything?

We elect politicians to be our voice and act on our behalf but they are also responsible for looking after our best interests even when we might not concur with their decisions. So could the government introduce tougher legislation on water waste to force households to reduce theirs? Is this even feasible?

Maybe the onus should be on water companies to reduce the usage of their customers much like the potential legislation to force energy companies to address the usage of theirs. I don’t know the practicalities of this either but surely it has to be considered as an option. I guess it would lead to bills rising further as water companies have to invest in ways to reduce their customers’ consumption.

It may be a bit extreme but could there be a way of rationing water so that only a certain amount per hour/day/month gets pumped through to each house based on the number of occupants? Ok so I’m only kidding, the public would be up in arms if any government ever tried this – it would be a bit too Tank Girl-esque.

What Are You Doing?

If you have any other ideas as to how we might get the great British public to reduce water consumption then why not leave a comment below – I don’t mind if they are whacky or extreme like my rationing example, we can’t afford to pussy-foot around the subject any longer.After all, as Thomas Fuller put it:

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry

Steve (152 Posts)

I am chief writer and editor on Green Steve. Blogging since 2011, I like to delve into a wide number of topics to help people reduce their carbon footprint. You should follow me on Twitter here. And add me to your Google+ circles here.


2 Responses to “Stop Short-termism On Water Usage”

  1. Rodriguez
    March 10, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    Rationing people’s consumption of water, raising their water bills or passing new legislations to reduce water waste is just not going to work. The first ones that must set the example in saving water are big government, big corporations and small business owners. Otherwise without someone setting the example first no matter what they do even if they try to educate the public in the long run is not going to do any good.

    • March 10, 2013 at 9:54 PM

      I’m not so sure that any example-setting by governments or businesses is enough to change individual behaviour – but I might well be wrong…

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