Water, water everywhere

I’ve written before about water, consumption, waste, and foolishness. Time to spin the dice and drag out a random rant about water.

The Dump Household received the water bill recently. Our average daily water consumption during 2009, so far, has been the lowest in the last 4 years. My previous estimates of our consumption have been a little on the high side.

Our water bills now come with a nice graph showing consumption over previous years, average daily consumption over the last year, and a nice table showing typical customers. I homed in on the consumption for a house of 4 people, and am rather surprised to find:

For a house with 4 Occupants (daily consumption)

No garden: 355 to 440 litres
Small garden: 440 to 545 litres
Medium garden: 490 to 600 litres
Large garden: 595 to 740 litres

Living as we do in the driest state of the driest continent on Earth – as we were continually told when I was at school – water storage, and water use is a big deal. And water use on our gardens is a significant part of consumption so that we can have a nice environment to live in during the warmer months.

So, in the context of the above typical figures it came as a huge surprise to find our water consumption is a mere 365 litres per day. That’s for nearly everything – washing clothes, showers, toilets, and watering the garden. The exception is drinking water ¬†- which comes from our own rainwater tank, in which a massive 200 litres can be stored and which does us all summer long.

That 365 litres includes two indulgences which I won’t back down on:

- I refuse to have a 4 minute shower. I have only 2 vices in this world – long showers and red wine, and I’m not going to give either of them up, thanks.

- We have an evil water wasting top-loader washing machine. Every front loader I’ve come across has a fatal design flaw: it’s a front loader. There is a huge pivot bearing at the back of the drum and they wear out due to the large forces involved. And they are without fail so damn slow that I fear reaching old age before they complete their idiotic cycles of backwardses and forwardses. So the top loader is not negotiable either.

However, the washing machine water does go on the lawn during the summer months, as does what we can collect using a bucket in the shower.

So our water consumption is 365 litres per day, which is in the range for 4 people in a house with either NO GARDEN, or a SMALL GARDEN. But we have neither. We live on an acre of land (about 0.4 hectares for those who speak the newfangled strange metric measure) – with fruit trees, lawns, gardens, roses. Keeping that alive with restrictions is very difficult. Keeping it alive and finding our consumption is about 1/2 what should be expected seems like a damn miracle.

I’m left wondering then, where on earth do people use water, if the normal consumption is around double what we use?

Which in turn brings me to three new points: Economics and the mentality of the masses, The failure of government policy, and Desalination. These I’ll cover in the next exciting¬†instalment or two.


Our water consumption is a bit higher, about 1000 litres but we don’t water the garden and there are 7 of us. Did buy a front loader, it’s only 18 months old so hasn’t shown any signs of dying but you’re right, what you save in water you must use in electricity it takes about an hour for a full wash cycle. All our water goes on the garden, we have a reticulated envirycycle thingy but it’s not enough to keep even the smallest patch green. What angers me is that when the dams reach about 62% the State Government relaxes water restrictions. We’re used to them now so make them permanent. As for usage. I blame boys and long showers so I stuck a water saving shower head on! Mean I know but it’s less satisfying so the suckers don’t stay under as long. Oh and the other thing. . . the water board don’t always check your meter, sometimes it’s a guestimate based on previous bills.

Comment by Baino | December 7th, 2009 4:13 am | Permalink

I have no clue at all about where others use so much water. Since many yards in my neighbouhood have dead or dying lawns, I can only assume they’re washing their houses inside and out, top to bottom, on a daily basis.
I have a swedish made front loader which I bought when the four kids were all still at home because the booklet said it was guaranteed to withstand 25 years of daily heavy duty use. Since I don’t now and never have washed every day, I figured it would be the last machine I’d ever buy. It’s 14 years old now and I’m still loving it. The long wash cycle means that I can set it going, get a dozen or so other things done, then hang out the wash.

Comment by river | December 7th, 2009 3:45 pm | Permalink

Wow – that’s impressive! You’ve moved me enough to go and find our last water bill…… 391 litres a day which seems rather shabby when we have a small garden and a house of three people!

I do slosh out the shower/bath with buckets but have only just started doing the same with the washing machine and have been astonished at how much water one cold cycle uses up – it’s enough to water our entire garden, so I’ll be looking into getting a pump/spray/tank thingy to save the running back and forth with buckets out of fear of the trough overflowing…..

Comment by Kath Lockett | December 8th, 2009 7:01 am | Permalink

@Kath, I’d love to set up some sort of system to take my washing machine water out to the garden, but I think the strata people might be against it. Anything like that has to be approved by them, then there’s the cost of getting a plumber involved. It’s definitely on my list of things to do if/when I have my own home.

Comment by river | December 8th, 2009 5:25 pm | Permalink

We just have one of those long black hoses you can buy in Woolies or Big W, or wherever. It attaches to the washing machine outlet hose, and then goes out the window. Very simple. Keeping the window open about an inch is a bit of a pain, though.

Comment by Wally | December 8th, 2009 8:03 pm | Permalink

I did the hose thing in my previous home where the laundry was off the back porch. The peach tree there was very happy. Here the laundry is a little space off the hallway leading to the bathroom, and a hose would have to snake across the floor, through the hall, dining end of the living room, kitchen and out the back door. Bit of a hassle and there’s not enough garden to make it worth while.

Comment by river | December 9th, 2009 3:54 pm | Permalink

Heh.. interesting isn’t it?

It’s good that they’re putting this on the bill… but you’re right it does make you wonder what the hell all these other people are using it all for. Interestingly also, we just got the second bill with the stats.. and the average figures are different, so it looks like they’re actually showing the average for *that* quarter.

On our previous bill (the first with the info on the average usage), between 2, we used 188L/day.. which was in the middle of the range for a SINGLE person with NO garden.. whereas we have half an acre. I suppose we do have an envirocycle, and we also have a fair bit more rainfall up here in the hills… but that said I’m with you on al least one of the vices, and I’ll bet our showers are even longer :P

Comment by Nick | December 19th, 2009 4:28 pm | Permalink

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