22 February 2009

Do we even care about water restrictions any more?

| harvyk1
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Over the last few weeks each time I drive past one of the “water target” signs, it appears we are consistently using many more ML than the target.

There was a post [here] a month ago about the high water usage.

So what’s the go guys? Do we no longer care about water savings or do I simply drive past the signs on the wrong days?

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lujabe,
There is a massive difference between directly recycling water and putting in the dams and using the water from the Murrumbidgee. Lets see if you can work it out.

As for the actual recycling plant, the main problem is control of endocrine disruptors (usually hormones in our water). Even if the plant takes out 99.999%, what happens when a large volume of these pass through the plant at one time?
Not to even mention human error:
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24982544-2702,00.html

So it’s pretty clear that Canberrans are jack of water restrictions…

And the one realistic proposal to alleviate the situation – water recycling – has been shot down by various ‘authorities’ and interest groups.

So we’ve wasted a couple of years debating technology that is already proven elsewhere in the world.

And the interim solution was to pump water from the Murrumbidgee River to supplement our thirst. But that Murrumbidgee water contains – wait for it – treated sewage…

A person must only use about 10-20 litres of water per week for drinking/cooking. If you’re squeamish about drinking recycled water, you could just buy your drinking water (as many people already do, anyway).

Let’s just build the water recycling plant already! If we hadn’t stuffed about it’d be half finished by now. Instead we’re just building another dam and hoping we actually get enough rain to fill it. Great plan.

sepi said :

The bad plastic is apparently brittle perfectly clear plastic. The more you use and it gets a bit worn, the more of the female hormone it will leach into the contents. That is why they say you shouldn’t just keep re-using the same water bottle.

I have been told it is only the bottles that have a number 3 or 7 in the triangle recycle symbol that use BPA. A quick check of my fridge has the four clear plastic bottles that are in there (one juice, one soda water, and two different brands of water that I just refill out of the tap) are all number 1 (PET) plastic which apparantly is BPA free. Maybe the “bad” types aren’t that common in Australia.

smokey4 said :

Canberrra is between a rock and a hard place. further water via a new new dam or increasing recycling is only stealing someone elses water. Canberra is part of the Murray Darling basin. This seems to be forgotton.

Who’s water is it anyway? What if it purchased from irrigators who decide to trade rather than use their allocation. Or if the water had been collected when there were surpluses and stored in dams built for the Canberra community for the express purpose of providing urban water in times of scarcity. The ACT had no say in the over allocation of irrigation water in the last 25 years, a lot of that water coming from the surface of the ACT.

Holden Caulfield10:53 pm 23 Feb 09

Thanks.

Look up BPA free plastic (that is the good stuff). Canada has banned plastic containing BPA from baby bottles (not sure if they have banned it from everything else too).

The bad plastic is apparently brittle perfectly clear plastic. The more you use and it gets a bit worn, the more of the female hormone it will leach into the contents. That is why they say you shouldn’t just keep re-using the same water bottle.

Those aluminium water bottles seem to be making a come-back in health food shops as a safer alternative.

Holden Caulfield10:31 pm 23 Feb 09

sepi said :

Bottled water is a major environmental problem, and hard clear plastic bottles leach hormones into the contents. Stay away from the stuff.

Someone else mentioned this to me the other day. Can you please elaborate more on this (or provide a link). I prefer water to most other cool drinks, so I am keen to learn more.

Also, is bottled water any worse than other bottled soft drinks?

And if we used recycled water, it would still go back into the system after its second use. It isn’t lost forever.

I don’t see how a new dam that gets filled with rain (look at Qld floods – when it rains, it buckets) would be stealing water from downstream. But seeing most of the water we use in canberra flows downstream, NOT using it by restrictions is ‘stealing’ flows that used to go downstream. Not to mention the cost of replacing all those dead street trees that would have got sprinkled. (Yamba drive trees are starting to suffer, because some dingbat has stopped the sprinkers).

Talk about misplaced greenwash.

Canberrra is between a rock and a hard place. further water via a new new dam or increasing recycling is only stealing someone elses water. Canberra is part of the Murray Darling basin. This seems to be forgotton.

tylersmayhem said :


No, I think your argument that water as already too expensive is unbelievable. There are people like you b**ching about the price of tap water, but quite possible spend a couple of buck for a bottle of Mt. Franklin on the same day. You comments about showering and watering with Mt. Franklin are an random and dim-witted as your comments about the price of tap water. 😐

You brought up the Mt. Frankin and compared its price to Canberra water. I wouldn’t know the price of bottled water. Unlike a nice garden, even a green lawn, bottled water is environmentally harmful.

You’re whinging that its too low. But you don’t give a single reason for this belief or why I’m wrong, just abuse. My argument is that $3.70 is twice as much as ACTEW can** provide 1 KL of water, 3 times what it was 8 years ago and the highest of any city in Austalia. And If you want water to cost more, how much more?

** providing new supply

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy4:41 pm 23 Feb 09

We HUMANS have f@#ked this earth, mother nature has had enough and now we must pay the ultimate price.

What happened – a bunch of trees beat you up?

The January exemptions to wash windows for the first time in 2 years were a good idea I thought. And letting people use watering systems once a week while on holidays is also sound. It will use less water than letting gardens eie completely and then starting again – establishing new plants uses heaps and heaps of water.

Feb has been super hot and dry – of course we will use more water. And not all of that is on gardens. People shower more in hot weather and wash more clothes and towels – especially after going to the pool etc.

Also – I think a lot of us have finally got around to installing weeper hose and drippers etc, so more ‘legal’ watering is going on.

tylersmayhem4:12 pm 23 Feb 09

Mt Franklin water. Water 1 cent. The rest is packaging, transport, marketing, labour and profit. Don’t tell me you’re showering and watering your garden with Mt Franklin to save the environment.

No, I think your argument that water as already too expensive is unbelievable. There are people like you b**ching about the price of tap water, but quite possible spend a couple of buck for a bottle of Mt. Franklin on the same day. You comments about showering and watering with Mt. Franklin are an random and dim-witted as your comments about the price of tap water. 😐

Timberwolf654:11 pm 23 Feb 09

We HUMANS have f@#ked this earth, mother nature has had enough and now we must pay the ultimate price.

Timberwolf654:09 pm 23 Feb 09

Perhaps the sudden increase in water usage has something to do with the “use all the water you want” campaign that happened towards the end of last year, “wash your car, Wash your windows, use all the water you can for two weekends only” or however long it was. What a ridiculous thing to do. It would of just made people question the seriousness of water restrictions.

Bottled water is a major environmental problem, and hard clear plastic bottles leach hormones into the contents. Stay away from the stuff.

tylersmayhem said :

We already pay too much for our water…

You seem to have a nasty crack habit of sorts. Around $3.00 for a thousand litres of drinking water is ridiculously cheap. When was the last time you bought a bottle of Mt. Franklin?

Mt Franklin water. Water 1 cent. The rest is packaging, transport, marketing, labour and profit. Don’t tell me you’re showering and watering your garden with Mt Franklin to save the environment.

caf said :

monomania: There’s a reason why you don’t hear people complaining about the scarcity of Ferraris.

I never had a Ferrari so I won’t miss one but I will miss the garden I have had for 30 years if I can’t afford the water because it gets priced too high (above what it costs to provide) simply because the government has decided price would a way to restrict use even at times when it is plentiful.

There is an anti-dam mentality that equates opposing dams in our catchments with saving the Franklin.

In times past some religious fanatics used to flagellate themselves, whip so that the skin broke and wear shirts made of course animal hair (horse) to irritate the skin and make themselves very uncomfortable.

I didn’t say they were the only reasons or that people needed more than one.

We’ve got alot of tough natives in the garden (the not-tough ones died a long time ago) but the extended dry and extreme weather a few weeks back has really been exceptionally tough on the plants.

The tank ran out a week or so ago so it’s just 7-10 evens for me. I also got pissed off with standing in the dark getting bitten by mozzies and watching all the water running off the hydrophobic soil. SO. I got 2m of 19mm black poly pipe. Put a quick click (nylex style) fitting on one end, a stopper on the other and shoved about a dozen barbed take-offs into the pipe. I attached flexible tubing to each takeoff (varying lengths, up to 2m long) and popped these nice little drippers on the end. So I have a moveable irrigation system. I plonk it where it is needed, attach the hose and turn it on and then adjust the flow of the drippers for the needs of each plant. I leave it for 45 mins to an hour. Works a treat. I don’t get bitten. The water doesn’t run off and it is way more effective than sprinklers (which you have to have on for bloody ages to get through the mulch).

As an added flourish I put a tap on the poly pipe so I can turn off the flow when I move it around without having to go back to the tap. I also got these nice drippers which have eight outlet holes and a nice “clicky” sort of flow adjustment. Very nice to use.

You’re welcome.

tylersmayhem2:38 pm 23 Feb 09

Who might call for higher prices: Those that can afford to pay. Those that only need a bit. Those who don’t accept that urban dwellers live in an environment as well. Those that like hair shirts. Those who love the opportunity of controlling the lives of others. Those who know what we need.

No, that’s simply not true monomania. I don’t only need a bit – I need a s**t load to keep my big established garden alive. I don’t want to control the lives of oter – and WTF is a hair shirt?

monomania: There’s a reason why you don’t hear people complaining about the scarcity of Ferraris.

I know an extra pipe system would be expensive, but I still think they could trial it in a new suburb, for construction use during buildig, and lawn watering for residents thereafter.

Forde is meant to be the enviro-suburb – that would have been a good trial. Or North Watson.

They keep sayng we can’t ‘waste’ potable water on lawns and car washing, but don’t do anything towards providing a second class water system for those uses.

I’d be keener to pay for something like that, than to just let the rich pay for their green lawn via potable water, and the rest of us live in a dustbowl.

I also think they should truck recycled water around to some of the ovals and kiddie parks that are looking so awful now.

Too bloody right on water pricing – work out what a basic house needs for survival – then price everything above that accordingly. We are then free to decide how much we will use and what for.

Restrictions in scarcity yes. We are a long way short of survival water and a time that the well off get lawns and gardens and any reduction in use has to be borne by less well off people. We still have 2.3 years at present levels of use in reserve.

Who might call for higher prices: Those that can afford to pay. Those that only need a bit. Those who don’t accept that urban dwellers live in an environment as well. Those that like hair shirts. Those who love the opportunity of controlling the lives of others. Those who know what we need.

AG Canberra: Maybe it depends on the mains pressure available at your residence, but I’m giving first-hand evidence here that it can work, in Canberra.

Oh, and for “what’s been done in the last 7 years / being done”, take a look here: http://www.actew.com.au/WaterSecurity/MajorProjects/default.aspx

Holden Caulfield2:02 pm 23 Feb 09

sepi said :

Does anyone really water their garden at 9.,30 at night??

Yes, and it’s a pain in the arse, especially while we’re watering the garden at our investment place while it is for sale as well. Fortunately, that is able to be watered at alternate nights to our own home.

During hot spells that just means 90 minutes each night holding a hose, I agree that sucks, but let’s be thankful if that’s one of the toughest things we have to deal with in our daily lives.

It doesn’t matter what the reasons are for our dams not being full (well, within reason, I guess), the fact is they aren’t full. I accept the current restrictions may not be manageable for all people, but I dare say they are for the vast majority.

miz said :

The Tennent DAm was planned in the 80s. They have just been too tight to build it.

And you’ll notice they’re not building Tennant Dam now. Wonder why?

The Tennent DAm was planned in the 80s. They have just been too tight to build it.

sepi said :

But also, the population of Canberra has increased, the building industry has gone gangbusters (and they use gallons of water), and yet, the dam levels have not gone down.

This despite 7 years of drought.

Also they have had 7 years to build a new dam – get on with it already.
OR – start laying new pipes for black water only and just use that for construction work.

They could have special pipes for blackwater in new estates, and in Civic Centre – that would save us scads of water,m and actually be environmentally sound.

Killing off all green plant life in Canberra, so that we have water in the dam for more people to move here is not really good for the environment.

Sepi,

3rd pipe systems cost sh*tloads of money. And i can already hear the howls of protests if ACTEW announced massive bill increases to pay for them.

As for the dam, imagine the whinging about not following planning procedures and causing environmental damage if ACTEW just started construction without proper planning.

I am a ‘guerilla sprinkler’ now, as I consider hand watering to be a complete waste of water and time. I use weeper hoses (drippers) for some beds that suit it, and a sprinkler two or three times a week at the mo. I am also using the sprinkler to keep the street trees healthy. Stuff the stupid restrictions, I am over them.

A dam would qualify for an infrastructure grant to stimulate the economy. I hope Stanhope has applied.

sepi said :

Does anyone really water their garden at 9.,30 at night??

Yep, sometimes I don’t think of it until later at night.

caf – not according to the ACTEW AGL Shop in Fyshwick. I asked them after your previous comments. They sell Rinnai and Bosch brands and both have issues with low flow heads. I asked how they sell these if they know they are incompatible with saving water – and the manager just shrugged.

sepi – exactly – apart from lots of talk – and restrictions – what have they actually done over the last 7 years of drought?

But also, the population of Canberra has increased, the building industry has gone gangbusters (and they use gallons of water), and yet, the dam levels have not gone down.

This despite 7 years of drought.

Also they have had 7 years to build a new dam – get on with it already.
OR – start laying new pipes for black water only and just use that for construction work.

They could have special pipes for blackwater in new estates, and in Civic Centre – that would save us scads of water,m and actually be environmentally sound.

Killing off all green plant life in Canberra, so that we have water in the dam for more people to move here is not really good for the environment.

AG Canberra: As I answered you last time, I’ve personally lived in two houses which had both instant gas hot water heaters and low-flow shower heads, working fine together. So it’s definitely possible.

Clown Killer12:45 pm 23 Feb 09

Has anyone actually noticed the drought we’ve been having for the last 7-8 years?

Let’s cut to the chase then shall we. Since January 2003 there has been ample rain in the ranges to the west of Canberra to keep our major dams and reservoirs topped up. It’s just a simple fact of nature that since those catchments got burned out the regeneration of all those shrubs and trees pretty much sucks up all of the water that falls as rain in those catchments and will continue to do so for the next decade or so.

Stanhope committed the community to long term water restrictions when he chose to let those catchments burn … now we pay for his monumental cock-up while being told to be more responsible with water.

too much stick, not enough carrot….

Too bloody right on water pricing – work out what a basic house needs for survival – then price everything above that accordingly. We are then free to decide how much we will use and what for.

How’s this for stupidity – my new instant gas HWS is not compatible with low flow shower heads. None of them are I’ve since found out. So I can save water, or I can save gas/electricity – but I can’t save both. All purchased and installed from ACTEW. Their advice has been to remove the flow restrictor from the showerhead. After this cock up I really don’t care how much water I use.

sepi: Personally I’ve found that the 10pm isn’t late enough – I often don’t get out there until just after 10.

tylersmayhem12:36 pm 23 Feb 09

We already pay too much for our water…

You seem to have a nasty crack habit of sorts. Around $3.00 for a thousand litres of drinking water is ridiculously cheap. When was the last time you bought a bottle of Mt. Franklin?

Why should we pay more than the water is worth?

Ask yourself that question again when there is just no more f**king water left as the drought continues. At that time I would laugh at you if it was just so bloody unfunny!

tylersmayhem12:29 pm 23 Feb 09

I’m not convinced that the minor savings you can make around the home add up to all that much.

You’d be surprised. But I’m beginning to not care any more either. Great water slowly poisons your soil, and I’m not going to stand idly by and let my lawn die. That said, it’s not green and lush – just not dead.

Does anyone really water their garden at 9.,30 at night??

Last night I had to put the sprinkler on the front and back yard – two weeks plus without rain and coming out of the hot spell meant that the grass was crunchy and the plants were shrivelled as they had only had a quick hand water last weekend. Every time the dog scoofles dirt/grass after doing her business in the back yard it looks like a duststorm. At this stage I don’t care if I get a wrist-smacking letter from ACTEW as it’s now just about survival for the garden, not some elaborate lush display, and the amount of water I’ve saved by not watering every second day that I can was simply used over 2 hours on one night with a sprinkler. Yes I reuse grey water whenever I can, but being a small household we really don’t produce enough “waste” water to heep everything alive.

It depresses me to see dead and dying gardens and trees.

Especially older gardens that obviousely used to be lovely and full of trees and shrubs.
It would take ten years to replant and replace a garden like that – 30 years to get the big old trees again.

It only seems to take a year or two of total neglect to kill off a garden, but it will take decades to regrow them.

You can’t get a gorgeous garden back overnight – no matter what they do on those tv shows.

Holden Caulfield12:15 pm 23 Feb 09

caf said :

sepi: It’s 7pm – 10pm, not 8 (also 7am to 10am I think).

That’s correct.

Holden Caulfield12:15 pm 23 Feb 09

Has anyone actually noticed the drought we’ve been having for the last 7-8 years?

I take the point about building new dams, and all the other sensible arguments against the status quo, but no matter who we vote in they can’t make it rain.

I’d like to be able to wash our cars as well. 🙁

I’m proud of my dead front lawn. Makes me feel like I’m doing something for water conservation, by doing nothing.

I haven’t used my garden watering system for a couple of years now, and have lost lots of trees and bushes. My small lawn which is the focal point of the garden from the house is a dustbowl. I don’t know why I bother, because my contribution to ‘saving’ water is infintesimal.

I’ve lived in Canberra for about 30 years, and we seemed to get along ok for about the first 25 without draconian restrictions and Hanrahan warnings about dam levels.

Restriction fatigue? You betcha. And we grow rice in NSW.

sepi: It’s 7pm – 10pm, not 8 (also 7am to 10am I think).

Clown Killer said :

Here’s a wacky idea … we could put a realistic price on water. That way people who wanted their money for other things could reduce water use and save money and those that valued a lush garden or a clean car and were prepared to pay for that could choose to use the water as they wanted.

Of course you’d need a government that was a bit more grown up than the ‘command and control’ ass-monkeys we’ve got at present, but there’s always hope …

We already pay too much for our water compared to every other urban centre including the towns further down the river. Larger users pay more than it costs to supply, lower users less.

Why should we pay more than the water is worth? Why should we not be able to use as much as we want by storing more, buying it from irrigators and pumping it from the river? What is wrong about wanting a garden or even a green lawn.

Why should water not be part of a free market like other goods and services.

Sure, put a scarcity charge on every KL of water used when as now water is scarce in the unlikey hope that that will reduce demand.

Clown Killer11:42 am 23 Feb 09

I fully understand your perspective FC. I wonder if separate metering might be possible for unit/apartment dwellers – after all I expect that they have separate metering for electricity.

The rental issue is another problem all together. I guess if landlords don’t want their investment to end up looking like, well … okay, a rental property, then they won’t mind ponying for some extra water. Alternately domestic renters could be made subject to some of the same arrangements as commercial tenants who are responsible for many outgoings.

Every second night for watering is fine if you are always at home, and have nothing else to do between 7 and 8, and don’t mind standing around in the dark.

I’m now obeying the letter of the restrictions, but not the spirit – I’m not having 4 minute showers and have a bath if I feel like it.

I’ve got the washing machine water going onto the back grass which is keeping it semi-alive. I never see anyone using sprinklers (they were ok on Sundays last month). I have seen a couple of old ladies watering at midday, but their tiny gardens probably aren’t driving the water levels down that fast.

Clown Killer – you have a point, however that wouldn’t work in lots of situations.
For example – renters. The landlord pays for water now so they would incur the bill for their tenants water use.
Also – townhouses/apartments. I life in this situation and I am very conservative with my water use and use mainly water from my shower/washing machine for my watering needs. I am a single person in my house hold. However my neighbours have up to five adults living in their house, which means around showers a day, and a lot more water use. We are all billed as a complex, and the bill is dividing equally among the owners, not depended on the number of poeple living in the house. This is already a bit unfair, so if prices are increased it will just add to this problem.

We’re typically careful with water, but I’m about sick of not watering my (small) front lawn. I’m going to start giving it a hand water every second night now.

Yep. Me too. My beautiful little courtyard used to be a lush haven from the heat and dust with it’s fish ponds, small lawn, lush plantings around the edges, etc.

But it’s all dead now.

From this distance, you can’t tell Johnboy and Clown Killer apart!

Clown Killer10:35 am 23 Feb 09

Here’s a wacky idea … we could put a realistic price on water. That way people who wanted their money for other things could reduce water use and save money and those that valued a lush garden or a clean car and were prepared to pay for that could choose to use the water as they wanted.

Of course you’d need a government that was a bit more grown up than the ‘command and control’ ass-monkeys we’ve got at present, but there’s always hope …

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy10:08 am 23 Feb 09

We’re typically careful with water, but I’m about sick of not watering my (small) front lawn. I’m going to start giving it a hand water every second night now.

Fundamentally, it’s all well and good to keep pushing the ‘use less’ approach, but ultimately it’s up to our govt (whom we elect) to find ways to provide a sensible amount of water, however this might be. The reality is that unless we build more dams and means of moving the water around (ie from outside our immediate catchment) the ‘use less’ approach will stop working altogether as population increases.

Inappropriate9:50 am 23 Feb 09

I don’t care about the restrictions, but I don’t care about my lawn or garden either, so it all works out. 🙂

Holden Caulfield9:47 am 23 Feb 09

What’s so hard about conforming to the current water restrictions? Every other day is not that hard.

I was hoping that water restrictions might engender a bit of common sense out there in suburbia. Apparently not.

I think the water restriction fatigue has set in. I got rather bored of making an effort some time during mid to late last year. If only the solution wasn’t just more rain.

I suspect that will change shortly as the level of the dams hits my psyche – I note they seem to have dropped a few per cent in just the last few weeks.

My Neighbour doesn’t seem to care about water restrictions either. they decided to wash their car the other night with a hose. On the cement driveway!!
It made me a little angry but I didn’t say anything to them as I likely would have got a similar response to MWF, and I’d rather not have that type of tension with my neighbours.
I actively tried to focus on something else other than the sound of good drinking water hitting the pavement to try and not be cranky.

Yeah I thought as much. Basically we need a new water strategy other that “don’t use”, as it’s obviously no longer working.

Clown Killer8:08 am 23 Feb 09

I’ll admit to a bit of water restriction fatigue.

I believe that it was an effective management tool in the first couple of summers but for the longer term we need to come up with some more workable strategies.

Nowadays I rarely water, but when I do decide that there’s something in the garden that could do with some ,I just go ahead and water regardless of what day or time it is.

Fisho said :

I’m not convinced that the minor savings you can make around the home add up to all that much.

It’s pretty much zero.

I guess Stanhopless’s government’s eyes are shut. Everyday I ride a bike to work and everyday I see sprinklers on, old bags watering their precious front lawn etc…..

Vic, that sucks.

My neighbour doesn’t care about water restrictions either. I asked him to stop watering the other night as he was watering when he wasn’t allowed to. He told me to get f-ked. I told him I would report him and I did.

After watching those signs over the Chrissy break plummet, then rise again as people went back to work I’m guessing that a significant amount of water is being used up by cooling towers for aircon etc.

I’m not convinced that the minor savings you can make around the home add up to all that much.

very hard to be mindful of water usage when you watch an act govt man hosing off the street of leaves, as his leaf blower was out of fuel….

Vic Bitterman11:24 pm 22 Feb 09

I personally dont, no. I put my sprinklers on whenever I want, which is most nights. So do my neighbours.

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