A couple of months ago when the President, as part of measures to ease financial burden and to promote handwashing in these COVID times, announced that water was going to be free till June, there was unanimous relief. That high only lasted a few days in, before there were several complaints of inaccessibility to the actual flow of water.
Indeed, Ghana Water Company bore the brunt of criticism and even insults. What many residents and citizens fail to realize is that water shortage and rationing is actually becoming a universal problem and not peculiar to Ghana. There are several factors causing depletion of our natural water bodies which consequently affect its delivery. The construction and design of houses features highly on the list.
The growth of the construction industry is significantly experienced in developing countries, due to the fast demand for growing economies. The construction industry is also a highly water-intensive industry consuming large amounts of fresh water and developing a high ‘water-footprint, (Bardhan & Choudhuri, 2016). According to Hayden et al (2015), up to 70% of residential water use goes to maintaining landscape plantings. Globally, 2.4 billion (1 out of every 3) people do not have access to safe sanitation facilities or latrines in or around their home. According to Pahl-Wostl (2007), having an uncontrolled urbanization in developing and threshold countries will lead to excessive pressure on the available water resources (Owusu, Sarkodie and Amenyo; 2016).
So you see, the situation requires urgent action on not only the part of construction companies, real estate developers but very much on us the consumers, you and I. It will interest you to know that in South Africa, specifically in Cape Town and even in advanced economies like California, there have been water rationing and restrictions. These restrictions were put in place to avoid DAY ZERO- which is a time that water ceases to flow through our taps due to depletion of its sources. To avoid Day Zero, it behooves on you and I to practice these conservation measures. Below are few hacks gleaned off research. If you are ready, come with me lets learn.
Get Sink Toilets
There are several innovative technologies emerging on the market. The sink-toilet and sink-urinal designed in Japan and Latvia, respectively, are an innovative design of sink built on top of a toilet/urinal allowing the water used to wash hands to run down to the toilet/urinal to be used for flushing. The sink-toilet was designed by Japan in 1956, while Latvian designer Kaspars Jursons created the sink-urinal in 2013, (Sikka, 2013). The system is said to cost less than a conventional toilet allowing users to save on both water consumption and space.
Install Low flow fixtures and fittings
The primary means of reducing indoor water use has to do with the fixtures you choose. Selecting low-flow sink and bathtub faucets, showerheads and toilets can reduce indoor water use by 30-40%. Over the last few years, the quality of low-flow fixtures has increased. Whereas at first they gained a reputation for flushing inefficiently or delivering unsatisfactory water pressure, new products are surpassing the original designs. The other great way to ensure that you are getting maximum water efficiency indoors is to purchase Energy Star appliances, which guarantee a certain degree of water efficiency, and save energy to boot.
Put a plastic bottle in your toilet tank.
Did you know that if you lived in a house consisting of two adults and two children, you flush the toilet an average total of sixteen flushes in a day? The average home toilet tank uses roughly a gallon and a half of water per flush. For almost all flushes, one does not need nearly that much water to expel the contents of the bowl. The solution often prescribed for this unnecessary water usage is to take a plastic soda bottle, fill it with water (and perhaps a few pebbles to weight it down), then put that bottle into your tank. This reduces the amount of water in the tank at all times and thus reduces the total amount of water your toilet uses. This would reduce your average flush from 1.5 gallons down to 1.34 gallons of water used. Over the course of a full year, you can save about a 100 cedis if you flush right.
Install a low-flow shower head
Research indicates that a normal shower uses 8.5 gallons of water per minute. In comparison, a low-flow showerhead uses (depending on the model) 1 to 3 gallons of water per minute.
Showers are also believed to average twelve minutes in length per shower. When high flow shower heads are replaced with low flow shower heads you can save about 1037.4 gallons of water. That adds up to several savings in Cedis. Let’s go low!
Time your showers
My wife will have a laugh over this one as I am the number one culprit. I spend ages in the shower and as I type these tips, I feel the full weight of guilt on my shoulder. Now, I don’t know the extent of your “sin” yet, but first start by timing your showers and then make it a point to shave off at least 3-2 minutes for a start, after all the aim is to balance savings and cleanliness right? Then watch you not only save yourself money on bills, but also contribute to saving the planet. So, let’s say you’re able to shave two minutes off of your daily shower and your shower head is an average one – 8.5 gallons per minute. That means in an average week, you can save 119 gallons of water – saving you about 60 Cedis per year on water bills. Another trick to employ is to move about while bathing as opposed to standing in one place, this shortens your shower time significantly.
Now that’s how to avoid Day Zero! Not so hard to practice, are they? Here’s to conservation with a glass of water. Cheers!
The writer is the Executive director of Yecham Property Consult & Founder of Ghana Green Building Summit.
Linkedin: Cyril Nii Ayitey TettehTweet