With water shortages and hosepipe bans still in force across the south east in the middle of the winter, we are all becoming more aware of just how precious water is. Whilst metering and pricing will have an effect, it is up to us to look for novel and sustainable ways to conserve water. Kevin Telfer examines some approaches ....
This is a four page article. First published in December 2006
In almost all conventional homes, when the toilet is flushed, a plug pulled from the sink or the washing machine turned on, the water that escapes is irretrievably lost to the householder. All this waste water is also mixed together so that what is often relatively innocuous water, or greywater, joins up with raw sewage (blackwater) and the two of them make a journey together to the sewage treatment plant. That waste water is then treated and usually pumped out to sea. In a situation where there are water shortages in the UK this seems to be a wasteful form of water management, a point of view that has found expression in a number of initiatives to separate greywater from blackwater before the two mix, in order to treat, recycle and reuse it for non-drinkable purposes.
It would seem that something needs to be done to try and conserve water. Going to press there was still officially a drought in south east England, despite high quantities of rainfall in October, with seven water companies continuing to impose hose pipe and sprinkler bans. In a recent interview that he gave to the BBC, the chairman of the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), Gordon Masterton, said that: We think that the problem of water supply in the south east is going to be so serious that we need some radical thinking as well as conventional solutions, such as new reservoirs, desalination plants, leakage reduction, demand reduction.
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