Canberra’s January Water Challenge

Wendy Johnson 10 January 2020 69
Icon Water - January Water Challenge

Small changes, like catching excess water with a bucket, can help you save big. Photo: Supplied.

Caring for water is caring for Canberra.

Icon Water meter expert Guy Price says the catch phrase rings true, especially with current dry and hot weather conditions.

‘Small changes make a big difference,’ says Guy. ‘Cutting back on your water not only saves water, it saves energy, money and the environment.’

Icon Water is urging Canberrans to take the January Water Challenge.

‘There are heaps of water saving tips on our website,’ says Guy, ‘but one of the most important things you can do for water conservation is to learn how to read your water meter.’

Water meters are usually housed in a plastic box located at the front of a house within one meter of the boundary. The arrangement can be different for units or townhouses who may share a common meter.

Icon Water - Learn to read your water meter

Find your water meter in a plastic box at the front of your house. Photo: Supplied.

Each meter register has two sets of numbers—four white dials on the left and four red on the right. Icon Water uses the four white dials with black numbers on the left of the meter to calculate how much to bill customers in kilolitres. The set of red dials with white numbers on the right of the meter show hundreds, tens and single litres and are for customers to use to determine how much water they are using.

‘Regularly reading these numbers helps you understand your water bill, how much water you’re consuming and if you have leaks causing water wastage,’ says Guy. ‘Armed with this knowledge, you can then think of ways to reduce consumption.’

Icon Water - Learn to read your water meter

Learning to read your water meter can help you save water. Photo: Supplied.

So, what’s the January Water Challenge?

Icon Water encourages Canberrans to check their water meter, register and write down the number, or snap a photo with your phone, at the start of the month. Then, give yourself a daily target to beat. During the month, use some of the tips and suggestions from Icon Water, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council or the ACT Government to get water usage down. At the end of the month, check the water meter to determine if the household met their target.

One tactic for reducing water use throughout the January Challenge is to monitor usage before and after activities that use larger amounts of water, such as irrigation, taking showers or doing the laundry. With a better understanding of how much water any given activity consumes, customers can make informed choices about how to reduce usage and the amount on their bills.

Another way you can use your meter to save both water and money is by using the dial to the far right (or half crescent shaped dial on round faced meters) to check for leaks. If the dial is moving, then it means water is being used somewhere on the property. If everything is turned off and the dial is still moving, you might have a leak such as through an irrigation system, a dripping tap or a running toilet.

‘If you’ve checked everything is off and the dial is still moving then it might be time to call a plumber to determine where the leak is,’ says Guy. ‘Canberrans leaving town for January should definitely check these numbers before they head off and on their return, to see if water was used while they were away.’

In addition to conserving water by learning how to read the water meter, all Canberrans can participate in the January Water Challenge by visiting Icon Water’s website, which devotes an entire section to preserving this precious resource.

The website has practical tips for home, garden and businesses, and most are free and easy to apply.

At home, about 40 per cent of water used is in the bathroom. ‘One easy way to conserve water in the shower, for example, is to use a bucket to collect water while waiting for it to get hot,’ says Guy. ‘Then use that water for plants in the garden or for cleaning around the house. You can do the same by putting a small bucket in the kitchen sink.’

Outdoor water use accounts for between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of an average home’s water. ‘Big culprits are hosing down pathways instead of just sweeping them, overwatering or watering during the heat of the day,’ says Guy.

Remember too, there should be one meter clearance around your water meter so it can be safely read and maintained. Ensure anything that can inhibit or block access to the water meter, including trees, shrubs and mulch, are regularly trimmed or removed.

For more water saving tips visit Icon Water.

What's Your Opinion?

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69 Responses to Canberra’s January Water Challenge
Acton Acton 2:08 pm 15 Jan 20

ACT residents were told to save water. Which we dutifully did, mainly by watering gardens less.
Water usage dropped and so to did water rates paid to Icon/ACTEWAGL.
To maintain its profits Icon/ACT Govt then raised our water rates.
So we are all now paying higher water rates, higher electricity rates and higher general land rates because of ACT Govt policies and the people who unthinkingly and habitually vote it in. If you want to know who is responsible for higher rates all round, take a look in the mirror.

Zoe Lewer Zoe Lewer 12:47 pm 15 Jan 20

I think it's gone too far in that many people don't have gardens anymore. They are important mini ecosystems, and growing your own food is great for the environment. People are taking too much individual responsibility when what we need to do is use the water we need to grow our own food and have gardens that are healthy. Residential water use is not the problem. The problem is industrial and agricultural misuse and corrupt deals with pollies, then having is pushed back on us. Please, water your gardens, plant flowers for bees and wildlife. Dont use insectacides. Plant trees. And vote. Vote to rid our country of its corporate greed,environmental vandalism and corruption.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 2:27 pm 15 Jan 20

    I have said similar things in previous droughts, that food growing should get preference for water in droughts. I grow a lot of my own food and I am still watering that, now with town water. I have left some flowering vegetables, rather than pull them out, for the bees. Until a couple of months ago I was watering 100% with tank water, but that is almost dry. Anyone, who has been using the small tank that most houses that have them have, who says they still have water, is likely mistaken or lying. My tank holds more than 45,000 litres, which is far larger than most urban tanks, and it's almost empty. I have been saving water in the bathroom and kitchen to put on other plants. The washing machine rinse water (I am going to investigate other detergents to see if I can use all the washing machine water). I have a bucket in the kitchen sink to wash vegetables and rinse dishes over. I have a dish in the bathroom handbasin to wash my face in to collect the water; also to collect tooth cleaning water and hand wash water. A bucket to collect the water in the shower until the hot water arrives. Re the shower, I have reduced my showers to every second day and now only wash my hair every four days to save water. Fortunately several of my fruit trees are now big enough and have their roots down to the ground water, and are very lush without me needing to water them. Ground water is not deep under my block.

Judith Hall Judith Hall 8:53 pm 12 Jan 20

Put a bucket in the shower. Amazing how much water you collect.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:29 am 12 Jan 20

“How about they start mandating water tanks in all of the new apartments so that we can save extra water.”

That would be a win win too as it would improve the asthetics of most units in Canberra. Could be colour coordinated and rainbow schemes for Braddon units too.

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 2:40 pm 11 Jan 20

I have been saving water for the garden and before I tipped it on plants I measured how much was there. I waste (although now caught in a bucket) four litres of water waiting for the hot water to appear in my shower. Today I also put a bowl in my hand basin to catch water from hand washing and cleaning teeth. I have used this once and it was one litre of water for a hand wash. I have a bucket in the kitchen too where I wash vegetables, etc over it to save the water. I also use the rinse water on the washing machine.

Mac Ka Mac Ka 1:12 pm 11 Jan 20

Increase the price

Stephanie Hamilton Stephanie Hamilton 10:49 am 11 Jan 20

Just got a super cute haircut which has knocked 3-4 minutes off my shower time! Win!!!

Rob Brown Rob Brown 5:35 am 11 Jan 20

Here's an idea why not increase water rates AGAIN just like when they said we need to increase the size of the dam that will never fill to capacity,f ...Ken government excuse to flog more money/rates/revenue from us working poor 🤬

Sol Han Sol Han 9:13 am 09 Jan 20

I guess, Many people was away from thier home, like went to holiday trip or ranaway from the smoke, that's why average usage was dropped.

Simon Wheaton Simon Wheaton 1:31 am 09 Jan 20

Are they going to raise the cost of water again, to make up for the lower profits from us using less, like last time?

Rene Riedelbauch Rene Riedelbauch 1:17 am 09 Jan 20

It takes 20,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef, why don't you try veganuary as a challenge?

    Robert Warke Robert Warke 4:24 pm 10 Jan 20

    Rene Riedelbauch thanks for the offer. But i politely decline.

    Greg Peterson Greg Peterson 3:53 am 11 Jan 20

    Rene Riedelbauch because raising live stock kills less animals than raising crops.

    Greg Aldridge Greg Aldridge 6:56 am 11 Jan 20

    Greg Peterson the jury is still out on that one.

Emma Maree Butterfield Emma Maree Butterfield 11:31 pm 08 Jan 20

Jake Kucher we could do this...

Toni-Maree Hannan Toni-Maree Hannan 11:02 pm 08 Jan 20

How about they start mandating water tanks in all of the new apartments so that we can save extra water.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 4:24 am 09 Jan 20

    Toni-Maree Hannan and how do you think that would work? To fill a tank you need sufficient roof area. I doubt any unit complex would have that much area to make any significant difference.

    Though they should and I thought they newer one’s did to water common area gardens etc.

    Toni-Maree Hannan Toni-Maree Hannan 11:34 pm 10 Jan 20

    Any water tank is better than none and they aren't mandated...its optional

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:24 pm 08 Jan 20

It's difficult when you grow your own food. I do though use the rinse from the washing machine, keep a bucket in the kitchen sink so water used to clean vegetables etc is captured, don't flush the toilet every visit and don't shower every day. Up until a couple of months ago I was using tank water to water the garden, so that has saved town water, but now it's running dry.

Shannon Ricketts Shannon Ricketts 10:19 pm 08 Jan 20

Why is Canberra not on water restrictions yet braidwood is on stage 4?

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 4:16 am 09 Jan 20

    Shannon Ricketts because there is sufficient water in the Canberra dams that we don’t need to be on strict restrictions.

    Neenie Baines Neenie Baines 10:54 pm 11 Jan 20

    Shannon Ricketts because we have plenty in our dam.......

Warren Butt Warren Butt 10:16 pm 08 Jan 20

Braidwood are carting in water

Eddie Miles Eddie Miles 9:55 pm 08 Jan 20

Philip Vels we can share some showers 😉

Frances Knight Frances Knight 7:01 pm 08 Jan 20

I keep buckets in the kitchen and bathrooms. I use the water on pot plants.

Alexander Górecki Alexander Górecki 5:59 pm 08 Jan 20

Andrea no more long steamy showers until Feb!

    Andrea Mya Riboust Andrea Mya Riboust 6:11 pm 08 Jan 20

    hey I ain't taking no steamy showers 😅just been having 1 min cool/cold blast showers

Sam Sulvig Sam Sulvig 5:37 pm 08 Jan 20

Who the heck uses that much in general, Maybe im off lol. How many litres would you use in a 3-5 min shower?

    Dave Blow Dave Blow 4:24 pm 11 Jan 20

    Sam Sulvig you must be ex Navy too mate. ...huge numbers of people cant shower in 3 idea why...

    Sam Sulvig Sam Sulvig 8:51 pm 11 Jan 20

    Yeah thats crazy man... at 7 minutes your pushing my bill and patience.

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