Handling Water Scarcity

Even though most of the world is covered in water, there is little freshwater on earth and most of that is locked up in ice near the poles. We have very little usable freshwater, so we have to use it wisely. To use it wisely, we must use it in the most efficient ways.

Saving Water at Home

The first thing to point out that industry uses far more water than households. Water conservation in the household is still important and it’s easier to cut out unnecessary uses of water in the household than in industry. Some ways we can cut down on water use at home are:

  • Using water efficient shower heads.
  • Using water efficient toilets.
  • Taking shorter showers.
  • Not filling a swimming pool.
  • Having a water efficient garden.

The last point is most important because you can have a useful and attractive garden without using much water. Lawns are very water intensive and they’re not cheap to maintain. It’s better to replace a lawn with gravel or some other low water consumption cover.

Using native plants in your garden is also a good idea because they are more suited to your climate. If you live in a dry area, native plants will consume less water.

Saving Water in Industry

The easiest way to save water in industry is to cut down our consumption of food. We can do that by not letting any waste food be thrown in the bin. Using all the food we buy can be an effective way of cutting down our water consumption. If you want to go on a diet, you can use water conservation as an excuse. Also, changing what we eat helps. If we cut down on meat, then we will be conserving more water.

Watering

Industry itself can cut down on water use. Most water is used in irrigation and individual farms can adopt techniques to minimise their water consumption. Laser levelling of paddocks is a very cost effective way of reducing water consumption for broad acre crops. There are other benefits to laser levelling, such as less drainage infrastructure and better weed control because the paddock no longer has high and dry spots. Other ways farms can lower their water consumption are by using centre pivots instead of flood irrigation, or where possible use subsurface drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is the most water efficient type of irrigation in use.

Close monitoring of the environment and water use is also useful for farmers. Having water meters measure the water poured on each crop is very useful information.  Monitoring weather will let them plan their irrigation better. By forecasting rainfall, they can effectively reduce irrigation in anticipation of rainfall replacing their irrigation. Another useful statistic is evapotranspiration because that lets farmers know how much water has been lost to the environment. By knowing that figure, farmers can irrigate only to replace the water lost to the environment and not pour too much on that would go to waste.

On the large scale, industry can cut down water use by using more water efficient infrastructure. Dams should be built across steep and deep valleys to minimise evaporation loses. Water distribution should be by pipes instead of channels because water cannot evaporate out of pipes.

Water should only be delivered to the most efficient industries. One way to do this is through setting up a market for water. Australia has done this successfully in the Murray-Darling basin. This way water only goes to the farms that use the water cost effectively and it discourages wasting water. A very informative water broker you can learn more about water trading from is Water Broking World.

There are many ways the water market can help countries develop more efficient water use. By setting a price on water, it encourages farmers to set up more efficient irrigation infrastructure. So not only does water go to the best industries, it also encourages those industries to become more efficient.

There are many ways we can help the world use its limited water resources efficiently and helping industry become more water efficient is a priority. We can all do our part by cutting down on household water use and fixing our consumption choices.

Dr Holly Haviland