25 May 2020

A great water-saving experiment is about to get underway

| Icon Water
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Frosty grass and trees on Canberra winter morning.

Frosty mornings are back for another winter in Canberra. Photo: Supplied.

With Canberra’s frosty winter mornings just around the corner, there’s nothing nicer than a hot shower to warm you up. So nice that it can be easy to forget how long you’re in there and even easier to forget how much water you’re using during every extra minute you spend coaxing yourself out.

Icon Water wants to run an experiment to test just how much of an impact shortening the length of your shower can have on overall water usage.

With ACT dams currently at 53.7 per cent, it’s important we do whatever we can to save every precious drop. Many of the things we love about our beautiful bush capital, such as green spaces and ovals for kids to play sport on, are impacted when dam levels are reduced so it’s up to all of us to find ways to cut back our usage.

To test the shower-saving hypothesis, Icon Water is running The Great Shower Timer Experiment.

The water utility is in the process of distributing 16,348 shower timers to households across Gungahlin, which will act as citizen scientists in the water-saving experiment. During the next three months – June, July and August – Icon Water will monitor Gungahlin’s total water consumption to see if shorter showers make a difference to how much overall water they use.

Woman washing hair in shower.

Icon Water’s Great Shower Timer Experiment will determine the impact of shorter showers on water consumption. Photo: Supplied.

If the experiment does reduce total water usage, an idea might be for Icon Water to send shower timers to the rest of Canberra.

If you didn’t get a timer, or you live outside Gungahlin, don’t be put off. Icon Water says this experiment isn’t just about encouraging the Gungahlin community to save water – the company looks after water and sewerage throughout the ACT so it is encouraging all Canberrans to get involved.

Icon Water will share Gungahlin’s progress through its social media channels, comparing it to the rest of Canberra so you’ll be able to monitor the area’s progress and compare it to your own.

So why did Icon Water choose Gungahlin?

Firstly, Gungahlin has been planned to use land efficiently and has smaller block sizes than in many older suburbs in the ACT. With less water use in the garden, we will see a bigger effect if people take shorter showers.

Secondly, most of Gungahlin sits in the Gungahlin Intermediate Zone. The zone is a part of Canberra’s water supply network that can be easily measured by monitoring the levels in Gungahlin reservoirs.

Aerial view of water reservoir in Canberra.

Icon Water will track water use through the levels within its reservoirs. Photo: Supplied.

Just like checking your water meter, Icon Water can see how much h20 the Gungahlin Intermediate Zone uses every day. Icon Water can then compare it to the rest of Canberra to see if Gungahlin is improving during the experiment.

Icon Water is focusing on showers because about 40 per cent of a household’s total water usage is in the bathroom, making it a big target for water savers. Much of this 40 per cent is used during showers, with older shower heads using as much as 20 litres every minute.

Installing a water-efficient shower head can help save as much as 11 litres per minute, while shortening your shower time can save as much as 20,000 litres per person per year. These changes can also save you money on your water bill and help to maintain Canberra’s long-term water security.

Water running from bathroom shower head.

Installing a water-saving shower head can help reduce your water use. Photo: Supplied.

If you’re looking for more ways to save water, why not try a few of Icon Water’s water-saving tips?

  • Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth. A running tap can waste five litres every minute.
  • Don’t rinse plates. Scrape food scraps into the compost or bin, and never pour fat or oil down the sink.
  • Baths use less water than showers, but monitor the temperature as you fill the tub. Adding water to adjust the temperature is a waste.
  • Always run your washing machine on a full load. You’ll save at least 10 litres of water each wash.

For more tips and information, check out Icon Water.

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I wish them well in their endeavors.

They may need to check a truck wheel wash thingo that has sprung up at the Mugga tip. A truck drives through it slowly while being hit with a number of high powered water jets .

Water now runs down through the car park towards the green shed.

A more practical water saving idea is to use a bucket in the shower. A bucket only takes minutes to fill, which will limit shower times, and when full tip it on the garden.

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