Home tricks to conserve water

Home tricks to conserve water

What can ordinary citizens do to save precious water? Here are some tips.

Early last year, Bengaluru was in the grip of panic after a BBC report claimed that the city was heading towards ‘Day Zero’ when it would completely run out of water.

While the doomsday prediction was far-fetched, there is no denying the city is under immense ‘water stress’ — a term used to refer to pressure on water resources.

Officials, experts and citizens admit the rapidly expanding city---it embraced about 100 villages over the past decade---has turned drinking water shortage into a serious problem.

While the government is rolling out schemes (the effectiveness of many of which remains suspect), how can households and individuals do their bit? Metrolife lists out some steps.

- Simple things first — shun the shower and opt for the good old bucket-and-mug method. Studies show that for a standard shower head, a minute wasted equates to 9.5 litres of water. As for all the bathroom singers, actors and philosophers—can we save the theatrics for when the tap is off?

- Don’t let the water run when you are brushing, washing your face or doing the dishes. Even if it’s just a trickle, multiply it into two or three times a day, 365 days a year, and millions of families in the city. See what we mean?

- Car washing is a major water stealer. A normal water wash takes about 70 litres of water (this is a conservative estimate). Say Bengaluru has 10 lakh cars, it works up to seven crore litres per week; equivalent to emptying the Bellandur lake more than 40 times!

- Fix leaky faucets immediately. They cause a slow and steady loss of precious water.

- It’s great if you have a garden, but planting the wrong kind of plants will cost you, both in resources and efforts. Opt for local flora (a simple Google search will tell you names of plants local to Bengaluru) and ones that don’t require much water.

- Using the hose to water your garden is again wasting clean water that many villagers on the periphery of the city don’t get for their basic activities. Use ‘grey water’ for your garden — water that has already been used in your washing machine, showers, and sinks.

PS: The best time to water most outdoor plants is the early morning or evening hours. Watering in the afternoon can lead to water loss through evaporation.

- Run your dishwashers and washing machines only when they are full.

- Don’t hose down your driveway or sit-out; it is a sheer waste of clean water and also dirties the street in front of your house. Sweep it instead; many of us can use the exercise.


Some smart appliances to help you use water better

After phones, televisions and watches, it is our homes that need to turn ‘smart’. Make use of the plethora of apps and technologies available to keep a check on your water consumption. Here are some:

- Rivulite-Aqua: An automatic home garden watering system, it works on the principle of drip irrigation. You fit the system at home and set the watering schedule according to the plant’s requirement, says Harish Kumar Payyappilly, head of marketing, Rivulis Irrigation India.

- Smart water meters like WaterOn use Internet of Things to help users track exactly how much water each household is consuming. Vivek Shukla, co-founder of SmarterHomes, the company that developed the device, says, “In the apartment where my partner Kasturi and I stayed, we were facing an unfair billing process which did not consider the difference in usage from one house to another. We tried out a pilot setup of our meter in our apartment complex: people only had to pay for what they were using. Our own consumption dropped by around 39 per cent. When an app is tracking your usage, your consumption comes down. This meter is now deployed in hundreds of apartments and our customers save 35 per cent or more.”

The consumption data is sent to a cloud server, and the meter reading is automated. The app can also detect leaks and send out alerts. “We also have a smart valve that can be added to the meter; it enables you to shut off water supply to an inlet, from any part of the world,” says Shukla.

This helps people who forget to close taps when in a hurry to leave the house. “Just today, our app has raised 1,068 leakage alerts,” he says.

- Simple water harvesting devices can make an apartment self-sufficient.

- Opting for a dual flush system with a choice of half or full tank capacity (3/6 litre) for flushing reduces water consumption in toilets considerably.


Where is the water going?

Rampant encroachment and mindless ‘development’ have reduced the number and size of lakes in Bengaluru. The larger lakes are in advanced stages of deterioration. Unplanned urbanisation has depleted the groundwater table. More and more people are digging deeper borewells, thereby putting more stress on the city’s water table.

Widespread dumping of untreated waste into water bodies is rendering them unfit for use. Many factors lead to water problems: Leaky taps, officials colluding with the water tanker mafia, excessive consumption in posh localities, lack of rainwater harvesting in apartments, cutting down of trees for public and private projects—the list goes on.