How to save water in times of water restrictions

Sydney has been under level 2 water restrictions since November. This means that:

  • Gardens can only be watered before 10 am or after 4 pm with a watering can or bucket
  • Smart drip irrigation systems may only be used for 15 minutes before 10 am or after 4 pm
  • The use of unattended hoses is no longer permitted
  • Hosing of hard surfaces is not permitted, unless in an emergency
  • Cars can only be washed with a bucket or at a commercial car wash
  • A permit is required before filling a pool of any size

Given that these restrictions have been put in place, we got to thinking about how we could be a bit cleverer about how we use our water. And our research has found some great ideas which are simple and easy to implement.

Rain barrel

When you think about it, this is such a simple and sensible idea. Instead of using the mains water system to water your garden, collect rainwater instead. Using water as nature intended. As always, there are basic ways to do things and more complicated (and costly) ways. The simplest thing we’ve seen people do is to place a large barrel underneath their gutter’s downspout. Then the water just runs in and fills it when it rains.

Greywater systems

There are two water systems in your house. A greywater and blackwater system. The blackwater is essentially the dirty water that we want to stay away from – it comes from the toilet. Greywater comes from sinks, washing machines, bathtubs, etc. This can be reused because it doesn’t contain any harmful bacteria. Installing a greywater system means that this water doesn’t go to waste. It gets reused for things such as flushing the toilet.

You could even use it to water your garden, although you do have to be mindful of the cleaning products you use. Some products like bleach or other non-earth-friendly ones could potentially damage or kill off your plants.

Reuse excess drinking water

Think about how much water is wasted just by not drinking the last drop out of a glass. It’s something that’s so easy to rectify. Some people use their leftover drinking water to feed their houseplants. Or, if its sweetened, to water the plants in their gardens (steer clear of using sweetened water on houseplants, unless you want ants).

Use a shower bucket

This is so simple. Everyone has to run the shower to warm it up before you get in. Instead of just letting the water run away, people use a bucket to collect the water and reuse it somewhere else. You’ll be surprised at how much water can be collected.

Save cooking water

Each time you cook veggies or pasta and then drain them, place a bowl under the colander to collect the water. The starchy water from pasta is good for soups. Or the nutrient-dense water from your veggies could be used for sauces or gravy.

Save water when you wash fruit and veg

In a similar way to saving the cooking water, place a bowl under the colander when you wash fruit and veg. Then this can be used to water the garden or flush the toilet. Such a simple and effective way to save water, rather than just letting it run away down the sink.

Create a rain garden

Rain gardens take advantage of the land’s natural water runoff to nourish the plants and shrubbery that live there. They’re constructed so that it uses water that would otherwise have run off into the sewage system. By diverting water from the storm drain, people are not only avoiding wastage, they’re also giving the sewage system a break.