Australia is the driest populated continent on Earth, and yet Australia uses more water per person than most other countries in the world. Much can be done in the home and garden to reduce water use and the impacts of stormwater and wastewater on surrounding ecosystems.
The 2 issues that households can help to address are:
- reducing the quantity of water we consume
- improving water quality by managing stormwater and wastewater.
Conserving our water has many benefits, including reducing the need to build new water supply resources, protecting river health by reducing water extraction, and reducing the impacts of treating and disposing of wastewater. Managing surface runoff and stormwater pollution helps to prevent the degradation of our rivers, wetlands and oceans.
In this section
Reducing water use in the home is a simple and easy way to decrease water and energy bills and reduce your household’s environmental impact. Water-efficient showerheads, taps, appliances and toilets can significantly reduce water use. Look for the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) label for water-efficient products.
Collecting and using rainwater can reduce your water bills and help maintain your garden during water restrictions. It can also help to conserve water resources and reduce environmental impacts beyond the home.
Many Australian homes use potable (drinkable) water for practically everything in the house and garden. You can reduce potable water use in the home by treating and reusing greywater (from showers, basins and taps) and blackwater (from the toilet, kitchen sink and dishwasher).
Stormwater is rain that falls on the roof or land. Stormwater that carries soil, organic matter, litter and fertilisers from gardens and oil residues from driveways can pollute downstream waterways. Capturing, storing and reusing stormwater can save potable water and reduce downstream environmental impacts.
The principles of water-efficient garden design include choosing plants adapted to the local climate, improving the condition and moisture retention of soil, adding mulch to the garden, and using water-saving garden products and efficient irrigation systems. If you have a pool, use a cover to minimise evaporation.
Toilets that do not require water for flushing can have lower environmental impacts than water-efficient toilets. If appropriately designed, they save water and money, and avoid disposal of effluent and pollutants into waterways and the general environment. There are different types of waterless toilets that do not smell and may suit a modern bathroom.