Tips on how to conserve water

We take it for granted that fresh clean water will always be available, but in some parts of Northland, summer water shortages are common. There is only a certain amount of water in our rivers, streams and dams, and sometimes demand is greater than supply.

An average New Zealand family uses 250 - 300 litres of water per person per day. By following the suggestions in this brochure, you could greatly reduce your consumption and help make available water supplies go further.

How you can save water around your home

In the bathroom

Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving.

Try reducing the amount of water in the bath, or have a shower instead. A bath can use up to 80 litres of water, while a shower uses less than half that.

Consider installing a water-saving shower head. These are stocked by plumbing suppliers and some hardware stores, and can halve the amount of water you use in the shower.

Water use in toilets can be reduced by up to 40% with the use of a dual flush cistern, or by putting a weight (like a half-full lemonade bottle or half a brick) in the cistern.

In the laundry

Make sure you have a full load when you turn on the washing machine, or set it at half level for smaller loads. A washing machine uses about 150 litres of water for one cycle.

In the kitchen

Keep a bottle of drinking water in the fridge so you don't waste water running the tap to cool the water down.

When washing vegetables, put the plug into the sink rather than letting the tap run.

If you have a dishwasher, use it only for full loads or once a day. Each load uses 60 litres of water.

When you buy a new appliance that uses water, look for the AAA Water Conservation rating. This rating refers to the water use efficiency of the appliance.

Stop those leaks!

Leaks waste water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A dripping tap can waste up to 3,600 litres a year - that's more than a bathful a week.

Check taps and pipes for leaks. If you have a header tank in your house make sure the plumbing is kept in good repair. Don't let the header tank overflow.

Check your toilet flushing system and the overflow pipe on the outside wall for leaks.

Check your hot water cylinder overflow pipe (on the roof.) If the ajax valve isn't working properly, the cylinder will leak hot water - a waste of both water and electricity.

If your house has a water meter, carry out regular checks for leaks. First, make sure all the taps in the house are turned off. Take the meter reading, then re-check the meter after an hour. If the reading has advanced and no one has used any water during the period, you probably have a leak.

If you see a leak in the street, contact your District Council.

How you can save water in the garden

There are often restrictions on watering your garden in the summer in urban areas. Make sure you stay within the restrictions - a hose running at full volume uses 2000 litres of water per hour. This would fill 28 baths to the top.

Soak your garden once every few days rather than giving it a quick drink every night. Light watering makes the plants shallow rooted, and most of the water is wasted through evaporation. Soaking the ground every few days encourages the roots to go deeper into the soil to seek out moisture.

In drought prone areas or areas where water restrictions are common, grow plants that flourish in dry conditions. Deep rooting plants are better able to survive drought.

Water the ground, not the leaves of trees and shrubs. Watering leaves just increases water loss through evaporation, and on sunny days may damage them.

Avoid watering in the heat of the day or in windy weather, when water will evaporate rather than soak into the ground where it is needed.

Mulch your garden with grass clippings or compost. Mulching can prevent up to 70% of water loss through evaporation. The best mulch is well rotted compost which will also improve the soil's ability to hold moisture.

Grey water from baths, showers, sinks and washing machines can be used for watering the garden. This water also contains nutrients that are beneficial to the garden.

Provide shade in the garden as it reduces the evaporation of water.

Don't let the children play with the hose. They can waste over 2000 litres of water every hour.