Water is a common substance that is essential to all known forms of life. It covers 70% of the earth’s surface and mostly found in oceans and large bodies of water. 1.6 % of the Earth’s water is found underground in aquifers. A tiny % of the world’s water is found in the bodies of plants and animals and in manufactured goods. Humans and other animals need access to a supply of fresh and clean drinking water for their survival. Some observers have interpolated that by 2025 a large part of the world’s population will be facing shortages of water.

Why should we conserve water?

Water conservation should not be considered an option any longer. Current circumstances require our full attention if we hope to thrive as a civilization. If these statements sound dramatic, it is because much of the world is currently suffering due to a lack of clean water.

Statistics around the reveal that our fresh water supply is practically nonexistent. That is why it is so important to seek out, find and start using all the innovative water conservation solutions and methods that are available today.

Benefits of conserving water

  • Save water saves your money
  • Reduces the need for costly water supply and new wastewater treatment facilities
  • Saves energy used to pump, heat, and treat water
  • Water conservation helps in improving the quality of your drinking water.
  • Minimizes water pollution and health risks

Many ways to save water…. and they all start with you!

In the bathroom

  • Don’t run water when brushing your teeth, washing your hands or face.
    • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and save almost 100 litres a month.
    • When you are washing your hands, don’t let the water run while you lather.
    • Turn off the water while you wash your hair to save more than 500 litres a month.
    • Turn off the water while you shave and save more than 1000 litres a month.
    • Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 500 litres per month.
  • Close taps tightly
  • When filling a tub, plug it before turning the water on, then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
  • Replace damaged/leakage pipes, taps, valves to avoid overflow and wastage.
  • A leaking toilet can waste up to 16,000 litres of water per year
  • Never flush garbage down a toilet. It will ultimately end up in our water streams and river.
  • Keep a bucket in the shower to catch water as it warms up or runs. Use this water to flush toilets or water plants.
  • Upgrade older toilets with water efficient models.
  • Use a water-efficient showerhead. They are inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you more than 2500 litres a month.

In the kitchen

  • Don’t run water when washing the dishes
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
  • When washing dishes by hand, fill the sink basin or a large container and rinse when all the dishes have been soaped and scrubbed.
  • Wash vegetables in a bowl of water, washing the cleanest ones first. Use this water for your plants.
  • Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  • Designate one glass for your drinking water each day or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
  • Setting cooling systems and water softeners for a minimum number of refills saves both water and chemicals, plus more on utility bills.
  • Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.

When using your washing machine

  • While buying a new washing machine, choose one that is water efficient. You could save a substantial amount of water, as well as money, over the life of the machine.
  • Most washing machines have a load adjustment button or dial, so try to set this to match the amount of washing you’re doing. If your machine doesn’t have a load adjustment function, try to wait until you have enough washing for a full load.
  • Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save more than 3,000 litres a month
  • When buying new appliances, consider those that offer cycle and load size adjustments. They’re more water and energy efficient.
  • Washing dark clothes in cold water saves both on water and energy while it helps your clothes to keep their colours.

In your garden

  • Water lawns and gardens during the coolest part of the day.
  • Collect rainwater in large tubs or cans and use it to water plants.
  • Avoid using pesticides, herbicides and fungicides in the garden for they seep into the garden and pollute ground water.
  • Don’t water your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.
  • Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.
  • Water only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.
  • Group plants with the same watering needs together to avoid overwatering some while under watering others.
  • Use a layer of organic material on the surface of your planting beds to minimize weed growth that competes for water.
  • Trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation than those spraying water into the air.
  • Aerate your lawn at least once a year so water can reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
  • Consult with your local nursery for information on plant selection and placement for optimum outdoor water savings.
  • For hanging baskets, planters and pots, place ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.
  • Set a timer when watering your lawn or garden to remind you when to stop. A running hose can discharge more than 300 litres a minute

When washing your car

  • Wash vehicles with a bucket and sponge instead of hose, which uses 400 litres of water. By using a bucket up to 300 litres can be saved.

Other Tips

  • Fix leaking taps, pipes etc., immediately and check regularly for leaks.
  • Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it for watering a plant or garden or cleaning.
  • Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost vegetable food waste instead and save gallons every time.
  • Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover leaks.
  • When cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your plants.
  • Walkways and patios provide space that doesn’t ever need to be watered. These useful “rooms” can also add value to your property.
  • Teach your children to turn off faucets tightly after each use.
  • Encourage your school system and local government to develop and promote water conservation among children and adults.
  • When you save water, you save money on your utility bills too. Saving water is easy for everyone to do.
  • Share water conservation tips with friends and neighbours.
  • Wash your pets outdoors in an area of your lawn that needs water.
  • When you give your pet fresh water, don’t throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your trees or shrubs.
  • If you accidentally drop ice cubes when filling your glass from the freezer, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
  • While staying in a hotel or even at home, consider reusing your towels.
  • When you have ice left in your cup from a take-out restaurant, don’t throw it in the trash, dump it on a plant.

Useful resources

(source: Apartment Adda)

1. Saving water the right way! – Amal Padmanabhan & Ajith Panicker
2. Sewage Treatment Eye Openers – Dr. Ananth Kodavasal
3. Rebuilding an urban water culture – Avinash Krishnamurthy
4. BM Cassia Rain Water Harvesting – Rajesh Agrawal
5. STP & Water conservation – Kuntal Shah

Technical methods to conserve water

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting is a simple, economical and eco-friendly technique of preserving every drop of water by guiding the rainwater that falls to borewells, pits and wells through small diameter pipes.The traditional method of rain water harvesting is the most effective and simple way to conserve the water. It means utilization of rain water for the domestic as well as agricultural purposes.

Rainwater Harvesting Methods
Rainwater Harvesting in urban areas is the process of collecting, filtering and using of rainwater, which falls on the rooftop (terrace or tile roof) and in the portico of the house. Rainwater harvesting can be adopted in three methods. These are:recharging of borewells near the house,recharging of ground water sources and collection of rainwater for reuse.

Borewell recharging
Recharging of borewells should be done to prevent them from drying up and improve their water table. It is usually done by the following method. First, a pit should be dug in the region surrounding the casing pipe and cement rings should be installed in it. The size of the pit should be one meter in diameter and 10 feet in depth. At the bottom of the pit, filter holes should be made and a casing pipe with steel mesh should be fixed tightly to the bore well pipe. This casing pipe will function as a filter. Cement rings matching the borewell’s diameter should be installed till the base of the pit. The pit should be filled with boulders from the base up to a height of two feet. A second layer of two feet height filled with jelly stones of 40 mm should follow this. The third layer of one-foot height should be filled with jelly stones of 20 mm size. The fourth layer should be filled with charcoal. This exercise should be repeated till there is 3 feet of space left from form the ground level. A nylon curtain should be spread on the layers and the remaining space of the pit should be filled with sand until one foot from the ground level. A pipe should be fixed to collect the rainwater from the roof and this pipe should be connected to the pit. A pipe should be fixed to prevent the excess water from running away to roadside drainage.By following the above method, we can recharge our borewells and keep them alive always. Those having open wells too can adopt this system. By directing the filtered rainwater to the open wells, their water tables could be improved.
Ground water recharging
Ground water recharging in urban areas is done by collecting the rainwater from the rooftops and the portico of the house and by making it easily absorbed within the veranda spaceThe method: An absorption pit should be constructed in the sloped area of the house veranda. The size of the absorption pit should be a minimum of 5 feet in width and a maximum of 10 feet in depth. Matching cement rings should be installed till the base of the pit. The pit should be filled with boulders (or big jelly stones) and a nylon curtain should be laid at the top. The remaining part of the pit should be filled with sand till one foot of the ground level. The pipe, which is installed for collecting the rainwater from the rooftop and the veranda of the house, should be linked to this absorption pit. Another pipe should be deployed for allowing the excess water to run off into the storm water drainage. Thus, by effectively preventing the rainwater from running off into the drainage and by making it absorbed into the ground, ground water sources can be recharged. All Bangaloreans, by adopting the ground water recharging system, can save the future generations the problem of water shortages.
Reuse of rainwater
Bangalore has an annual average rainfall of about 1,000 mm. It has been estimated that 2,23,000 litres of water can be collected annually from the rooftop of a 40’x60’ house with 1,000 mm rainfall. Assuming that, on an average, a Bangalorean spends 135 litres of water, a family of four would need about 2 lakh litres of water annually. So, water needed by an average family living in a 40’x60’ house could be collected from the rainwater falling on the rooftop.
Rainwater Harvesting from Rooftop Method
Water falling on a flat rooftop should be made to run through a pipe connected to the roof and prevented from running off to the drainage on the roadside. This water should be filtered and stored in tanks constructed for the purpose of storing rainwater. In case of houses with sloped rooftops (R.C.C., Tiles and Asbestos), a gutter should be attached to the roof and the water collected in it should be made to go through a pipe attached to the end of the gutter. The water, which runs down from the pipe, should be filtered and stored in the rainwater harvest tanks. A good quality filter is needed for purifying the water. This is because, although the rainwater is basically pure, the water flowing from the rooftop usually will contain waste material in it.
Sand Filter
There are two types of filters and sand filter is one of them. This filter can be built in the house itself. Before storing the later in a water tank, sump or drum, the water should be purified by making it flow through several layers of filtering.
-One layer of boulders
-Over that, one layer of big jelly stones
-Over that, one layer of small jelly stones
-Over that, one layer of charcoal
-Over that, one layer of big jelly stones
-Over that, one layer of small jelly stones
-Over that, a layer of nylon curtain
-Over that, a layer of sandLike this, a filter will have 8 layers. The rainwater will get purified when it flows through a filter prepared in this order. The purified water should be stored in a sump, tank or drum. The contents of the various layers of the filter should be changed once every five years. The water is filtered through the charcoal layer since the rainwater may sometimes contain poisons waste materials like bird excreta etc.No water connection if there is no rainwater harvesting system Keeping in mind the interest of the future generation, BWSSB has made a rule, which makes it mandatory for every house or building constructed in future to have a rainwater harvesting system in order to get drinking water connection.. There should be no connection between underwater drainage and rooftop waterIf the rainwater that falls on the rooftop is linked to the underwater drainage, there will be disorder in the underwater drainage system. If possible, the rooftop rainwater should be stored through the rainwater system. Otherwise, the rooftop rainwater should be linked to the storm water drainage system and should never be linked to the underground drainage system. First, a three feet slab should be taken out from the storm water drainage in front of the house. Thereafter, a trench of 3 to 5 feet should be dug and boulders should be spread on it and the boulders should be covered with a layer of sand. Through this system, water flowing though the storm water drain is absorbed into the ground and the ground water will be recharged.
Always use MDPE Pipe
When getting water connection from the main water pipe passing though the road, a bore should be drilled and the pipe should be attached without damaging the main pipe. Since the pipe connecting the house passes through the road, you should always use MDPE pipe to prevent the leakage. This pipe should be connected by shoving it through a G.I pipe. This will help in the prevention of leakages and in identification. This method has been made mandatory by BWSSB.

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