Why it's important to save water
Unnecessary water use puts extra stress on river levels and our water supply system. This page contains lots of suggestions on small changes everyone can make to be more 'water wise'.
Our water supply in Lower Hutt comes from the:
- Hutt River
- Combined flow of the Wainuiomata and Orongorongo Rivers
- Waiwhetu Aquifer which is a natural underground reservoir beneath the Hutt Valley.
The supply from our rivers is dependent on rainfall and influenced by our capacity to store water during times of low river levels. Minimum river levels must be maintained to avoid negative impacts on our river environment. Poisonous algae can be a result of low river levels. To protect our environment, resource consents determine the maximum amount of water we can take from our rivers and the aquifer. Our daily water demand is likely to incrementally increase with the growth of our city, and rainfall has been quite variable in the last few years.
Our options to increase supply capacity are limited and rather costly. Reducing demand by encouraging users to use less water is a less costly, and more sustainable, option.
Saving water outside the house
There are a number of steps you can take to save water in your garden and yard.
- Use good mulch. It holds water and protects the soil from drying out. This can be chip mulch, (pea) straw, and grass clippings, cardboard or even newspaper. A layer of wet newspaper or cardboard under your 'decorative' mulch adds extra soil protection and feeds the worms. Remember to add some nitrogen (manure, blood and bone) when using a lot of carbon rich mulch.
- Use weed cover ('living mulch'). It’s better than bare soil. Try to avoid water hungry grass around water sensitive plants and young trees.
- A soil rich in organic matter holds moisture better. Add compost generously, at least 5 cm per year.
- Mow your lawns on the highest setting. Longer grass won’t dry out as much as the leaf shades the soil. Little and often is the way to go.
- Group plants according to their water needs and install irrigation only where it’s needed. Most native plants will get through an average summer without needing to be watered at all!
- Water only when it’s necessary. Feel the soil for dampness 10 cm under the surface. Look at your plants to see if they look wilted or thirsty.
- Water longer, but less often. A deep soaking every four days encourages feeder roots to grow deeper, making them hardier and giving them access to deeper soil moisture. Frequent watering makes your plants shallow rooted and more dependent on you for survival.
- Water in the early mornings to avoid excess evaporation. Watering in the evening can encourage slugs and fungal disease.
- Water at the roots, not on the leaves. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses are best. Point your hand held hose at the soil, not the plant.
- Save summer water. Observe the publicly notified water supply restrictions on garden watering during daylight saving. Try using grey water for the job.
Washing with water
- Use your broom for sweeping, not your hose. Using your hose to ‘sweep’ uses 1,000 litres of water per hour, while your broom uses none.
- Wash cars and windows using buckets. Cars are best washed on the grass, not the driveway to allow natural filtering of the water before it returns to the river. Remember - what goes down the stormwater drain ends up directly in the sea.
- Reuse grey water from your laundry or bath. Bucketing the water is the cheapest option but requires some muscle. Make use of the pumping power of your washing machine by attaching your garden sprinkler directly to the outflow of the machine. Use only biodegradable detergent.
Saving water in the home
Save your rainwater for later
Consider installing a rainwater barrel. It can be fitted under any downpipe and it makes a great emergency water supply. We can supply you with external emergency water tanks that can sit next to your house. You'll need to get a building consent if you want to install a big rainwater tank that's permanently connected (plumbed in).
For more information on installing a rainwater system email our Eco Design Advisor on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 04 570 6666.
Other tips for the house
- Fix dripping taps by replacing the washers. On hot water taps this investment can save you significant amounts on your power bill.
- Install a low flow shower head. You’ll hardly feel the difference, but it will save heaps of water.
- If you don’t have a dual flush toilet, place a filled two-litre milk bottle or a brick inside your cistern to replace some of the water.
- Try to keep showers less than five minutes.
- Turn off the tap while brushing teeth.
- Fill a sink to wash larger quantities of vegetables and fruit rather than letting the water run.
- Run your dishwasher only when full and avoid pre-rinsing dishes.
- Run only full loads in your washing machine and try to re-use the water on the garden.
- When replacing your washing machine, consider buying a front loader. It'll use less than 70 litres of water, compared to 200 litres in a top loader and thus provides savings on hot water.