We can all take steps to reduce water consumption and contribution to water pollution. Some broad steps include:
- ensuring our waste does not end up in waterways
- reducing our waste and use of chemicals and
- becoming a 'green consumer'.
Here are some suggestions on how we can manage our water use.
Advice/suggestion Reasons/details Use fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides sparingly.
Make sure runoff does not carry these chemicals into the stormwater drain or your local waterway.
Fertilisers contain nutrients, including phosphates and nitrates, which can pollute waterways.
Pesticides and herbicides can harm aquatic life.
Compost your food scraps and garden waste.
Do not dump garden or lawn clippings near waterways.
Compost creates a natural fertiliser for your garden and uses up kitchen and garden waste.
This reduces waste to the sewerage system, waterways and landfill.
Install a timer which automatically turns off water after a set period of watering time. Overwatering causes run-off and wastes water. Give the garden a thorough watering about once a week, rather than light watering three times a week. Deep watering encourages plant roots to grow deeper, seeking water from below, rather than close to the surface. Consult your local plant nursery for advice on planting native gardens. Plants native to your area require less water, fertiliser and pesticides.
They also attract birds and other wildlife.
Mulch garden beds well to reduce water needs. Mulch reduces evaporation and stores water for plant use. Reduce herbicide and pesticide use by using organic gardening methods.
Libraries and book stores have literature on appropriate herbs and flowers to deter pests.
Pesticides pollute waterways and can harm animals and other plants, especially aquatic life in waterways.
Reasons/detailsDo not put the following items into stormwater drains:
- radiator coolants
- swimming pool backwash waters
- grass and garden clippings
- animal droppings,
- polythene, plastic bags
- bottles and
Substances put in stormwater drains flow untreated directly to the local river or creek.
It is an offence under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act 1998 to pour oil, herbicides, pesticides and other prescribed chemicals down the stormwater drain or place them where they could flow into waterways.
Advice/suggestions Reasons/detailsDo not place the following items into sewers (except with the prior approval of your local government):
- paint strippers
- acids and
- solid objects which are likely to cause blockages.
The sewerage system cannot treat many of these substances, and their presence in sewage may also prevent proper treatment of other pollutants.
Advice/suggestions Reasons/details Avoid discharging anti-fouling paints on boat hulls to waters when cleaning. Anti-fouling paints often contain toxic chemicals which build up in marine organisms such as oysters, fish, and barnacles, harming them and the animals which feed on them, including us. Take care in refuelling and boat maintenance.
Avoid spilling fuel and oil.
Fuel and oil pollute waterways and the ocean. Empty sewage holding tanks by pumping holding tanks out to licensed sewage collectors. Untreated sewage pumped into a marina, waterway or the ocean is an environmental and health hazard.
Advice/suggestions Reasons/details When away from home, place rubbish in garbage bins or take it home with you to recycle or dispose of with household rubbish.
Where possible, take reusable items with you.
Rubbish often finds its way into waterways through stormwater drains, creating visual pollution.
This pollution, particularly plastics, can also choke and kill animals living in waterways and oceans.
Advice/suggestions Reasons/details Collect, store and recycle your used car motor oil if you change your own oil.
Do not put it down the sewer or stormwater drain.
Ask your local service station for advice.
Oil forms a film on water which reduces oxygen transfer from the atmosphere to water.
Dissolved oxygen is essential for fish and other aquatic life.
Oil also coats birds' feathers, making it difficult for them to fly.
Minimise your use of cooking oil and allow meats to cook in their own juices.
Use non-stick pans or grills. This will help not only the environment but your health. T
To dispose of large amounts of used cooking oils, pour the oil into a small hole in the garden and mulch.
Oil washed down your drain is not effectively treated by sewerage treatment and often ends up being discharged to waterways or the ocean.
Advice/suggestions Reasons/details Buy detergents, cleaning agents and washing powders which are low in phosphates.
Alternatively, look for pure soap or soap-based dishwashing and laundry substances.
Phosphates in detergents flow into the sewerage system and increase treatment costs.
Excess phosphate in waterways can cause rapid algal growth.
Algae robs water of dissolved oxygen, essential for aquatic life.
Measure laundry and dishwashing detergents carefully and use only the recommended amount or less.
Use the 'suds saver' on your washing machine if available.
This recycles the washing water.
Even after treatment, some detergent ends up as pollution in waterways.
Advice/suggestions Reasons/details When washing cars, minimise your use of detergents and water.
Wash cars on the lawn or a grassy area, not on the driveway or road.
By reducing the amount of water and detergent you use and ensuring it soaks into your lawn and does not run down the stormwater drain, you reduce water pollution.
Advice/suggestions Reasons/details Save water by fixing dripping taps.
In the meantime, catch drips in a bucket and use them to water plants.
Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth.
Install a dual-flush toilet or water-conserving shower nozzle, and sweep paths and driveways rather than hosing.
Australia is the driest inhabited continent, yet we often waste water.
One dripping tap equals ten deep bathtubs of water a month.
Advice/suggestions Reasons/details Avoid unnecessary use of cleaning agents.
Natural alternatives have less harmful effects.
'Environmentally friendly' alternatives can be found in household cupboards.
Commercial cleaning agents contain phosphates and chemicals which can pollute waterways. Avoid commercial toilet cleaners and substances used to freshen toilets.
Scrubbing with a toilet brush and a cup of vinegar is effective.
Bad stains can be removed with a brush and bicarbonate of soda.
Toilet fresheners contain chlorine and hydrocarbons which can be dangerous to aquatic animals.
Advice/suggestions Reasons/details Avoid placing paint and solvents down sinks, sewers, gutters, or stormwater drains.
Local councils can suggest suitable alternatives.
Petroleum-based paints and solvents can kill aquatic life.
Water-based paints cloud water.
Paints and solvents coat plant and animal life in waterways and cause visual pollution.