Australia is the world's driest inhabited country. As such, water is a precious resource that must be conserved. As well as reducing the amount of water used, it is also important to improve the quality of the water supply.
Important: Please ensure that you use water wisely using methods and during hours regulated by your local council. It is your responsibility to strictly follow water restrictions enforced by your local council or the Queensland Water Commission. For a full copy of the restrictions or for more information contact your local council. If you breach these regulations, you may be charged an 'on the spot' fine by the council. Work is underway to investigate ways that all tenants in Queensland can be made more accountable for the water they use. This is likely to include charging for water consumption.
Water saving tips
Inside the house
- Turn off the tap while you clean your teeth. Also, do the same while shaving or soaping up before washing your hands. It can save up to nine litres a minute.
- Shorten your shower time to four minutes. Cutting your shower time from seven to four minutes will save up to 36 litres every time.
- When rinsing dishes or washing fruit, part-fill the sink rather than running the water. A typical kitchen tap uses about nine litres a minute.
- Select water-efficient appliances when replacing any that use water. For example, consider buying a washing machine with a AAAA water rating when you need a replacement.
Only wash when you have a full load.
Outside the house
- Sweep paved areas, driveways and paths with a broom.
- Plant native species that require less water once they are established. Consult your local nursery for advice on choosing plants native to your area. They will also require less fertiliser and pesticides, and attract birds and other wildlife to your garden.
- Mulch garden beds well to reduce water loss, which can be up to 70%, through evaporation. Mulch stores water for plants to use and helps suppress weeds.
- Set your lawn mower's cutting height to three centimetres or higher to avoid cutting your lawn too short. This will reduce the amount of water your grass will require.
Be aware: Report any dripping taps, running cisterns, leaking pipes or faulty water connections to your Housing Services maintenance telephone number. A dripping tap could waste more than 200 litres of water per day. Regularly check your outdoor taps for leaks also. While waiting for repairs to be carried out, catch drips in a bucket and use the water on your plants. Remember, if your household uses more than a reasonable amount of water, the department may charge you for the cost.
Checking the water used in the property
It is important to check all plumbing fixtures for any drips or leaks. If you require assistance to check your home for water leaks, please contact your nearest Housing Service Centre for advice or assistance.
Bathroom – Check for any dripping taps, running cisterns, or leaking pipes.
- hand basin taps
- bath taps
Laundry – Check for any dripping taps, leaking pipes or loose hose connections.
- washing machine taps
- laundry taps
Kitchen – Check for any dripping taps or leaking pipes.
- kitchen sink
- if your house has a dishwasher, check the hose connections.
Checking the water used outside the property
Check all taps outside the home for dripping taps or leaking pipes.
Report any dripping taps, running cisterns, leaking pipes or faulty water connections to your Housing Services maintenance telephone number.
If you wish you can test your property for leaking pipes by monitoring your water meter, using the following steps.
Important safety note:
Meter covers and boxes can be a haven for spiders and snakes. Take care and wear gloves to help prevent injuries when checking your water meter.
Do not allow children to touch water meter covers or boxes without adequate supervision or instruction.
Before doing this test, make sure you have checked all of the water fixtures in your home for leaks or faulty water connections.
If you do not find any evidence of leaking or damaged plumbing, check for concealed leaks by doing this test:
- Take a water meter reading by writing down both black and red digits from left to right (black digits are kilolitres used and red digits are parts of kilolitres of water passing through the meter).
- Don't use any water on the premises (including flushing the toilet) for at least one hour, and then take another reading.
- If the meter reading has changed, there may be a leak in an underground pipe. Contact the Housing Services maintenance phone number and report your findings, as soon as possible.
Please note: Repairs needed due to a tenant's use of the property or a tenant's faulty appliance may be considered the tenant's responsibility, e.g. a faulty washing machine or dishwasher connection.
Tips for protecting water quality
To improve the quality of the future water supply, try to reduce the amount of pollution that reaches waterways.
- Minimise the use of chemical-based pesticides and fertilisers in the garden by using organic gardening methods. Your Council library and many bookstores will have literature on appropriate herbs and flowers to deter pests and information on organic gardening methods.
- Make sure runoff of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides does not carry these pollutants directly into the stormwater drain or waterways. Fertilisers contain nutrients, including phosphates and nitrates, which can pollute waterways. Pesticides and herbicides can harm aquatic life.
- Do not litter. Litter items like cigarette butts flow into our natural waterways daily.
- Do not dispose of the following items into the sewer: solvents, oil-based products, paints, thinners, varnish, paint strippers, pesticides, poisons, fertilisers and acids. The sewer system cannot treat many of these substances and they may end up in our waterways. Check with your local authority for the appropriate disposal method.
- If you change your own motor oil, you should collect, store and recycle it. Ask for advice at your nearest service station.
Phosphates in household cleaners and detergents flow into the sewerage system, increasing treatment costs and algae growth, which disturbs the natural balance for water life.
- Minimise phosphates reaching the water system by choosing detergents, cleaning agents and washing powders that have no phosphates or are low in phosphates.
- Measure laundry detergent carefully, using only the recommended amount.
- Look for pure soap or soap-based dishwashing and laundry substances.
- Avoid unnecessary use of cleaning agents and look for 'environmentally friendly' alternatives.
- Commercial toilet cleaners and substances used to freshen toilets contain chlorine and hydrocarbons which can be dangerous to aquatic animals. Scrubbing with a toilet brush and a cup of vinegar is an effective alternative. Bad stains can be removed with a brush and bicarbonate of soda.
More information on caring for waterways is available at the Environmental Protection Agency's website www.epa.qld.gov.au or at your local government website, for example, Brisbane City Council www.brisbane.qld.gov.au.