Water Conservation at Home
In an average Irish household, one person uses about 160 litres of clean treated water a day. Getting water up to drinking water quality is an expensive and energy intensive process and yet this top quality water is often wasted. Also consider what goes down your drain, as this will end up in your local river or lake.
Water-friendly tips and using water more efficiently:
- Don’t leave taps running or constantly dripping: A tap dripping once a second wastes about 10,000 litres of water a year.
- Don’t leave tap running while you are brushing your teeth. This wastes around 11,000 litres of water per year.
- Fix leaky taps
- Take a shower instead of bathing. Fitting an eco-shower head will use 50% less water.
- Use phosphate free household cleaning and washing products. Also, minimise your use of bleaches, disinfectants and anti-bacterial products.
- Use dishwashers and washing machines only when fully loaded.
- Don’t pour paints, oils, wood preservatives, solvents, varnish, thinners, pesticides, fertilisers, poisons and acids down the drain. Bring them to the appropriate waste facilities.
- Invest in a rainwater harvesting system. This will reduce use from mains supply by 50% as it can be used for watering your garden and plants, washing your car and other household activities.
- Flushing the toilet alone uses one third of all water used in the home. You can put a brick or plastic bottle into your toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water per flush.
- Use a bucket of water for washing your car instead of a hose.
- If you are not on a mains sewerage system, empty and maintain your septic tank regularly and ensure it is serviced by an authorised company.
By using the above tips you are reducing the pressure you are putting on the water resources of your area, from which all drinking water must come.
Water Conservation on the Farm
On the farm, water is mainly used as drinking water for livestock, dairy operations, and washing and cleaning machinery and yards. Farming practises can impact neighbouring waterways via runoff from farmyards or silage pits or the spreading of slurry during wet conditions or too near rivers or lakes.
Some good tips for on farm water use are to:
- Protect water quality by limiting access of livestock to rivers, streams and lakes.
- Make regular checks for leaks and carry out necessary repairs. This includes visual checks for dripping taps, leaky pipes, hoses and nozzles, and for unusually wet areas around the pipe network.
- Collect rainwater for cleaning purposes.
- Collect and store organic material, farm chemicals, oils, industrial waste and residues properly, and dispose of using Local Authority dedicated facilities.
- Only spread slurry when weather conditions are suitable.
- Ensure water troughs for cattle do not overflow and carry out regular maintenance.
- On pig and poultry farms check that animals do not cause spillage. Consider changing to better designs to reduce water losses. Wet poultry litter increases the ammonia emitted, and can cause welfare problems for the birds.
- The advantages for applying good agricultural practices are:
- Water conservation reduces costs
- Rainwater harvesting reduces the volume of dirty farmyard water to be managed. This minimises the bio-security hazard on your farm.
- Reducing nutrient losses from your land will increase profitability, since it is wasteful and environmentally damaging to apply more nutrients than necessary.
- Water friendly farming reduces the risk of contaminating water supplies – your own and your neighbours
A reduction in water pollution will increase water quality, improve aquatic habitats, protect nature, the environment and human health for everyone in your community.
For more information on good agricultural practice please see Water Quality and Good Farming Practice leaflet published by Monaghan County Council.
Another useful link is to the Irish Farming Association (IFA) website, Smart Farming: Improve your Farm Returns with better Resource Management.