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Reduce water usage and preserve supplies

29 May 2020 17:14

NI Water, the Department for Infrastructure and the Consumer Council are appealing to people to consider how they are using water while at home.  Now, more than ever, we all value having a secure supply of safe, clean water.  The message is simple, use water for the areas it is needed; hygiene, hydration, household chores, however, think about how you use it and if you could be saving more.

DfI Minister, Nichola Mallon, comments:

“Since the beginning of lockdown, NI Water has seen a significant rise in the amount of water used in the home and total water demand is higher than normal. This increase, which has arisen partly because of three exceptionally dry months, has contributed to a natural drop in water levels in reservoirs across Northern Ireland.   Now is the time to consider if all of our water use is essential or if we could be doing more to conserve it. 

“I am on record saying how proud I am of the workforce of NI Water who have continued to work day and night to ensure we all enjoy a constant supply of safe, clean drinking water.  We have seen how powerful we can be as a society when we all work together for the common good, evidenced in the way we embraced the ‘Stay at Home, Save Lives’ message.  Now is the time to see how we can once again work together and play a role in maintaining our water supply during what has been a lengthy dry spell coupled with an unprecedented health crisis.”

However, those with the biggest part to play are our customers.  According to NI Water’s Maynard Cousley, how we behave now can make a huge difference.

“Our water levels are low. We need everyone to reduce use and preserve supplies. We can all save a lot of water by looking at our everyday habits and making some changes.

The sunshine has also enticed many of us out into the garden.  However, a hose uses more water in one hour than the average family uses in a whole day. While it is tempting, don’t fill swimming or paddling pools. This is a waste of a precious resource. Filling a 12ft swimming pool in your back yard uses the water for 500 people’s daily handwashing.   A pressure washer can also be a massive drain, so please think about whether the task is really essential at the moment.”

“It is easy to think that turning a tap off while brushing your teeth won’t have much impact, but nearly 50% of our water usage is in the bathroom. That simple action of turning off the tap could save 6 litres per minute, twice a day.    

“We want everyone to enjoy their home and garden, we just need people to think about how they use their water and if what they are doing is essential.”

Graham Smith, Consumer Council NI, is confident the public will take action to help save water, especially when they are given advice on how they can make simple changes quickly.

“Our experience is that the public will respond positively when asked to make changes to their water usage that are easy and don’t cause extra hardship within the home.   Everyone is aware we have had this prolonged period of dry weather, it is inevitable there is some impact on water levels.  We all have a collective responsibility to keep our water flowing for the essentials in life.” 

Some of the easiest tips that can make a massive difference include:

Tips for Garden:

  • Stop using garden hose pipes and sprinklers. Use a watering can instead of a hose to water plants. A hose uses more water in one hour than the average family uses in the whole day!
  • Don’t fill swimming/paddling pools and hot tubs. This is a waste of a precious resource. Filling a 12ft swimming pool in your back yard uses the water for 500 people’s daily handwashing. 
  • Lawns are great survivors - a sprinkler can use as much as 1,000 litres of clean drinking water in a single hour; more than a family of four would use in a whole day. Even when they look dry and brown, they’ll spring back with the first heavy rain, so avoid watering them wherever possible.
  • Buy water efficient plants - If you are buying new plants now the garden centres are open look out for water efficient plants that still brighten your garden
  • Be pot savvy - If you’re potting up or planting containers, use ones made from plastic, glazed terracotta or wood. These tend to lose less water than bare terracotta. Bury a short length of pipe into your pot; if you water into the tube the water goes directly to the roots where the plant needs it most
  • Mulch weeds away - Use mulches like bark chips or gravel to retain moisture and keep weeds down

Tips for House:

  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth - A running tap can use 6 litres of water per minute.
  • Make full use of your washing machine - Half load programmes on washing machines use more than half the water and energy of a full load, so wait until the machine is full before switching it on.
  • Take shorter showers - Why not challenge yourself and your family to shower one minute quicker? In a year you could save up to 10,000 litres of water!
  • Take a shower instead of a bath - One bath can use up to 100 litres of water, whereas an efficient shower uses under 50 litres. But remember power showers can use more water than baths.
  • Car washing - Avoid washing cars and vans frequently, use a bucket and sponge

NI Water are encouraging customers to sign up to its free text alert service which keeps them updated about anything that may impact on their water supply or any of our other services in the area. Sign up here


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