Water Conservation – Some tips for households and RWAs

Joseph Varghese

1.Tips for Outdoor Water Conservation in Households and RWAs

  • Avoid lawns, non-native ornamentals, and water hungry plants.

  • Water plants early in the morning during the summer months to reduce evaporation losses.

  • Use a watering can or mug instead of a hose and pour water around the base of the plants avoiding the stem and leaves to prevent leaf burn or primary root rot or stem infections.

  • Water soil only to the point that the top 3-5 inches of soil are damp if watering daily and ensure avoiding over flow or over saturation of soil.

  • Use a sprinkler that throws large drops of water rather than a fine mist if land area is large. This will reduce water losses from wind drift and evaporation.

  • Use of drip irrigation for bedded plants, trees, or shrubs and even potted plants and vertical gardens can be considered for water saving when plantation is organized.

  • Use mulches to help reduce soil moisture losses. This can be home-made compost, manure, wood chips, leaf litter, etc especially in the places with harsh winters and summers.

  • Do not "sweep" the driveway or sidewalk using a hose. Use a broom instead and sprinkle water after to settle dust near the home.

  • Do not water the streets, sidewalks, and driveways to settle dust or clean. Nothing will grow a thing there and therefore there is no need of water.

  • Use a bucket of soapy water to wash and a bucket of clean water and a sponge or damp cloth for rinsing and wiping down the car.

  • Leave a bowl of fresh water out for birds, insects and local fauna daily.

  • For washing hands and feet if there is a tradition of not wearing footwear in the house, store a closed bucket of water and a mug outside instead of using a running tap or hose.

  • Design the exteriors based on natural contours to ensure retention and recharge of ground water using a combination of modern and traditional low cost, low energy, know how.

  • Invest in rain water harvesting and ground recharge measures in proximity to the home.

  • Avoid tarring, tiling, cementing or concreting around the home which reduces natural ground water recharge drastically and has a heat radiating effect on the home.

  • Surround homes with trees and shrubs for shade and leave soil mulched and uncovered to ensure ground water percolation and retention.

This list is meant as a starter for those wishing to Save Water. The actionable points for Outdoors can be enforceable in gated communities by RWAs in response to the growing water crises or by self-regulation by members of the community in non-gated ones.

2. Tips for Indoor Water Conservation in Communities and Households

In the Kitchen - 

  • Keep a container of water in the refrigerator to cool instead of running water from the tap.

  • Avoid RO if using Water Board water for cooking and drinking.

  • Switch to gravity and adsorption based technologies to save water, electricity, health, reduce waste and prevent wastage of money. Residual chlorine might need remedying in monsoons.

  • Ways to remove residual chlorine from Jail Board water,

    1. Use a net covered bucket to aerate water which is conventionally treated at source to evaporate excess by leaving it for 4-6 hours. Net to prevent insects.

    2. Boil to evaporate excess chlorine, however this leads to loss of dissolved oxygen.

    3. Use chlorine removal tablets in storage containers.

    4. Use activated carbon dips in gravity based filters to kill smell and taste of residual chlorine by removing it along with other contaminants.

  • Turn off taps when not in use and replace taps if there is a drip.

  • Check pipes to ensure there are no leaks or damage annually.

  • Have water tested annually or bi-annually from a government approved lab for water from tube wells, bore wells, springs or surface water from rivers and streams or open wells to ensure quality of water and based on quality and contamination look for remediation.

  • Switch to low flow taps or adjustable aeration or misting nozzles to reduce water usage.

  • Use biological agents to clean and scrub dishes, counters, or floors to reduce chemical contamination of waste water, reduce indoor air pollution and damage to skin and health.

  • Keep conservation in mind when working in the kitchen. Small water savings can be had by,

    1. Not using an electric coffee maker machine

    2. Only using enough water in an electric kettle as is needed

    3. Using a pressure cooker or pot with a lid and timer to cook foods instead of boiling in an open vessel

    4. Letting frozen foods slow defrost by keeping them out a little earlier to use rather than soaking them in hot or tap water.

    5. Washing vessels, meat and veggies in a tub or basin of water and then using the waste water in potted plants and gardens. A tub or basin is a finite amount of water.

    6. Wipe down dishes with a wet clean cloth using a clean tub of warm water than rinsing under an open tap.

In The Laundry:

    1. Wash only a full load when using the washing machine. It takes on average about 115 to 225liters of water per load. Differences are there in capacity, size and type of washing machine- front loading or top loading, etc.

    2. When hand washing in a bucket, use a 15 or 20 liter bucket to pre-soak before soaking in soap solution or scrubbing with bar soap targeting key areas of clothing where dirt and grime tends to accumulate like, arm pits, collars, chest, elbows, cuffs, bottom of pants, etc., and then rinse out using minimal water. Avoid bleach and conditioners if possible.

    3. Try and use biological cleaning agents where possible to reduce contamination of ground water with waste water and reduce impact on skin from harsh chemicals.

In The Bathroom:

For bathing -

    1. Avoid using a bathtub unless it is for a baby and the tub is baby sized.

    2. Avoid a shower. Use a bucket and mug. A bucket is a finite amount of water just like our planet has a finite amount of clean potable water. Make sure,

    3. Bucket is 15 or 20 liters and not more.

    4. Use a smaller mug that way no excess water is poured and wasted.

    5. If using a shower,

    6. Install a low-flow showerhead that restricts the flow of water from the shower to less than 9.5 litres per minute.

    7. Ensure shower is turned off during soaping, shampooing, conditioning and is only used for wetting and rinsing.

    8. Take short showers. Ensure not to exceed 10 minutes in the shower.

    9. The amount of water used in a shower depends upon the type, height, angle and maneuverability and flow adjustment capacity of shower head, the pressure of water, the amount of time a person takes or needs to get clean, resulting in greater wastage.

For toilets -

    1. Install a low-flow toilet that uses only 5-10 litres of water per flush.

    2. Test toilets for leaks. Add a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet to the water in the toilet tank, but do not flush the toilet. Wait a few minutes to see if the coloring appears in the bowl. If so, the toilet has a silent leak that needs to be repaired.

    3. Use a toilet tank water displacement device, such as a toilet dam or bag in older models. Also, a plastic bottle can be filled with stones or with water, recapped, and placed in the toilet tank. These devices will reduce the volume of water in the tank but will still provide enough for flushing. (Bricks are not recommended as they eventually crumble and can damage the flushing mechanism.)

    4. Displacement devices are not recommended for use with newer low-flow toilets.

    5. Never use the toilet as a trash can to dispose of gum, cigarette butts, body hair, used tissue, sanitary napkins or other items. Unnecessary flushing wastes water placing an added burden on sewage treatment plants and septic tanks.

For basic hygiene - 

    1. Use a bucket and mug or a small bowl or tub.

    2. When brushing teeth, turn the water off until it is time to rinse.

    3. Do not let the water run while washing hands. Turn the water off while soaping and turn it on again to rinse.

    4. When shaving, fill a small tub, sink or mug with warm water instead of letting the water run continuously.

This list is meant as a starter for those wishing to Save Water in line with the government’s advertising. The enforcement of points for Indoors depends largely on how responsible and responsive citizens in RWAs are to the growing water crises plaguing our cities due to poor planning and incorrect understanding of natural resources by our authorities at all levels.

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  1. Good suggestions but first to implement the same Sir one must be a Responsible Citizens RC which one doesn't see in the country?? Including the Government and the Politician's dear Sir OK thanks