Smart Water Use Household Trial

We tend to take water for granted, expecting clean drinking water when we turn on a tap and safe water for our recreational activities. However with drought of the 2007/08 summer and with the climate changing towards more extreme events, the need to conserve water is paramount. 

Hamilton is growing and therefore it needs water. On average Hamiltonian's consume 230.2 litres of water per person per day. 

During the city's worst drought on record during the summer of 2007/08, Hamilton peaked to a record high of 482 litres per person per day during which water restrictions were imposed and Hamiltonian's witnessed first hand how quickly the parameters of sustainability can change. 

To help view water as a precious resource a regional collaborative approach was established between territorial authorities from Taupo to the northern Waikato as a means to reinforce responsible use of water. 

The Smart Water Use campaign rolled out across the region of the 2008/09 summer to help avoid the water supply issues the region faced with the drought a year earlier. The collaborative regional effort around Smart Water Use provides the opportunity for water conservation momentum to gather along the entire Waikato River.

Household Trial

As part of the Smart Water Use campaign ten Hamilton households were invited to take part in a focus group to be fitted with a water meter to measure water conservation efforts they made. These meters were installed in December 2008. 

After one month each household in the focus group was provided with a tool kit to help them conserve water including tap fittings, trigger hose attachment, and a bucket for washing their car.

Inspection and Education

Each household also had a one-on-one home visit on how to conserve water in their homes, including indoors with taps, showers, toilets and leaks, and outside with garden and lawn maintenance and watering, including mulching, the use of drip trays for pot plants, and even planting all the thirsty plants together. 

For the households with swimming pools, advice was given around covering the pool to avoid loss to evaporation, refilling with rainwater, to avoid refilling the pool if not necessary, and to discourage splashing or 'bombing' from users of the pool. Pools only need about 100 litres per week during the summer for backwashing filters.

Hamilton City Council's eco-design advisor fitted the new  tap-fittings and the household was left for a further month to see what difference the changes made to their water consumption. 

Results  

Household
Shower Flow (Litres per minute)
Litres per person before
Litres per person after
Saving Litres per person
A (4 people)
7
200
165
35
B (2 people)
10
254
301
-47
C (3 people)
12
328
203
125
D (4 people)
11
283
264
18
E (3 people)
5
144
96
48
F (2 people)
6 & 18
173
87
86
G (4 people)
4
148
134
13
H (2 people)
7
312
270
42
I (3 people)
6 & 9
235
not recorded
 
J (3 people)
5.5
465
not recorded
 
 

Household B and J both had pools. Household B emptied and refilled their pool during the trial, which skewed their data and resulted in a negative saving. 

Final readings were not recorded for Households I and J.

Household F had two showers. To test theory of whether or not you can tell what the shower flow is by using it we asked what shower the occupants thought used the least water from their shower experience. Both occupants liked the shower experience in their ensuite better because of the water pressure, but they differed on what shower used the least water. After measuring both the shower flows using a specially designed measuring bag, results show that their ensuite shower uses considerably less water and higher pressure, supporting the concept behind low-flow showerheads that they can deliver the same or better pressure than a high-flow showerhead. This result surprised the occupants and proved that you can still have a great shower whilst saving water.

The campaign proved that water conservation can be easily achieved if people make a conscious effort to reduce water, and that making use of the simple cheap devices that are available on the market can make a huge difference.

Page reviewed: 25 Mar 2015 1:13pm