Water Restrictions and How To Be More Water-Wise
UPDATE // Council has cancelled water restrictions thanks to all the February rain! But this info is good to know for when it gets crazy dry again.
Water restrictions were introduced in the Southern Highlands on 16th December across the shire.
It's important that we all understand what this means, so we understand what changes we need to make in our homes and businesses.
Plus, we can't think of a better time than right now to become more mindful of our water useage. There are some small changes we can make in our lives which can help make a big difference.
Why do we need water restrictions?
It's been dry for far too long now and Wingecarribee Shire Council are taking action to ensure the long-term security of our drinking water supply.
“While our Shire still has considerable water capacity, acting now will help sustain our drinking water supplies should conditions worsen” Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Deputy General Manager Operations, Finance and Risk Barry Paull said. “This drought is without doubt one of the worst in our State’s recent history and we know our Shire’s residents understand how important it is to do their bit to help conserve water.”
What does this mean for our homes and businesses?
Under the first stage of water restrictions local residents and businesses are no longer able to:
- use sprinklers
- leave hoses running unattended
- clean hard surfaces such as paths and driveways with a hose
We can still:
- Use a hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle to water gardens between 4pm and 10am
- Cars can be washed on lawns with a bucket and rinsed with a trigger nozzle hose
It's important to remember that water restrictions are enforceable, and penalties apply.
You can find more info all about the water restrictions at Council’s website at www.wsc.nsw.gov.au/water-restrictions or phone Council on 02 4868 0888.
Small changes can make a BIG difference.
We checked in with some of our water-wise friends for some inspiration and discovered different ways we can minimize our water usage during this dry Highlands climate. Read on... bet you hadn't thought of some of these... we hadn't!
Trent from Impeccable Irrigation has been a horticulturist for 25 years and there's nothing he doesn't know about saving water. Check out his top tips:
- Don’t rinse dishes before you load them into the dishwasher. Make sure you scrape off the food waste before you load them though.
- Turn off any lawn irrigation; a lawn can recover.
- Thin your garden out of water-stressed plants. Less is more, and requires less water.
- Pots dry out too quickly and require more water, so leave your pots for succulents. Succulents such as Sedum varieties require little water and still put on a fantastic show.
"My favourite tip is put a 55L container in the shower, so it fills up with the excess water from the shower head. You won’t be able to lift it, but it becomes a water source that you can bucket out onto your garden whenever you need. You’d be amazed at how much watering you can do this way. Younger kids can also use the container as a bath. One kid showers standing in the container for two minutes. We turn the water off then the container becomes a bath for them. My kids love it.”
If the idea of a 55L container is too daunting, you could put a bucket in the shower to at least catch the water that is wasted while you're trying to find the right temperature. You can use it to water your plants.
Joanne from Quarter Acre Farm is an agricultural ecologist who is passionate about sustainable vegetable farming on a suburban scale, and water is always a consideration.
“You have to be really clever with how you use water. I put my Lily plant under my hot water overflow pipe so it has constant watering. It’s flower is spectacular, without even turning on a tap.”
Sara from The Fold does a similar thing with her pot of mint: “My pot of mint sits under the outside tap so whenever we turn it on, the mint gets a drink at the same time. It’s the only thing green in my garden right now.”
Kirstine from Life at Greenlaw's passion for our planet continually inspires us. Kirstine has a fab list of ideas for us:
- Have shorter showers and install water-efficient low flow shower heads and taps.
- Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving.
- Wash your veggies or rinse your hands and dishes over a basin in the kitchen sink and empty any captured water onto plants.
- Fill up containers of drinking water and keep it in fridge so you don't lose water down the sink filling glasses
- Thaw frozen foods in the microwave or in the fridge - not under running water.
- Try low water use cooking tips like cooking pasta directly in the sauce (makes a nice thick sauce, infuses the pasta with the sauce flavour and uses no water!).
- When using appliances, use the economy cycle and only turn it on when they are full. If you need to purchase new, buy ones with a high-water efficiency rating.
- Use the half flush on your toilet, and - ready for it......if it's yellow let it mellow.... or even better (if you have a private garden) wee on a tree!
- Make sure all your gardens are mulched to slow down evaporation.
- Water in the early morning or evening when evaporation will be lower.
- Install rainwater tanks for watering the gardens.
- Install greywater systems to use all your shower, bath, washing machine water (saves you having to empty them by buckets onto your gardens!). If you can't install greywater try attaching a hose to the laundry water outlet and pop it out the window onto the gardens every wash. You'll need to make sure you're using greywater safe laundry detergent.
- If you must wash your car, do so on the lawn so the grass can benefit from the water.
- Plant suitable plants for your zone.
- Group plants together that have similar watering requirements.
Imagine the impact we could make if we all started to make some (or all!) of these changes in our homes...