The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

World Water Day

This should have been auto-posted on Friday but it didn’t happen…

Tomorrow is World Water Day.

From Kathimerini (I know they say today but I believe it is tomorrow (the 22nd)

To mark World Water Day today, homeowners in Greece have been encouraged to fix leaky faucets and toilet cisterns as they may be doubling each family’s water consumption.

The director of the Athens Water Company’s (EYDAP) network, Stefanos Georgiadis, told Kathimerini that a leaky faucet could cause some 400 liters of water to be wasted every day when the consumption of the average Greek household is between 350 and 400 liters per day.

«A rise in water consumption is a sign of better living, so we do not want to reduce consumption to the detriment of the quality of life,» said Georgiadis. «The easiest way for us to reduce consumption is to stop all the leaks in each house.»

Georgiadis said that more accurate billing would also help to reduce consumption. He said that EYDAP only bills for 80 percent of the water that is used and that the remaining 20 percent is either not recorded by water meters or is lost through leaks.

EYDAP also sounded a word of warning about water levels ahead of the summer.

«At the moment, the water reserves will suffice but we need to be careful,» said the water company’s president, Costas Kostoulas. «If the next year turns out to be as dry as the last one, then we will have to adopt emergency measures.»

Meanwhile, the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry revealed at a conference last night that it has begun a study of pollution in Thessaloniki’s Thermaic Gulf. So far scientists have established that there are at least five main sources by which the Thermaic Gulf is polluted, including rivers that empty into the sea.

The readings indicate a high concentration of heavy metals, especially lead and chromium, in some areas. High levels of phosphorus and ammonia were also recorded.

I don’t agree that a rise in water consumption is a sign of better living. I think it’s a sign of wasteful living. Here, in Europe, we are lucky enough to have water pretty much on demand. And we use it without thought. For example, here in Greece, where rainfall is scarce, we use water like it was going out of fashion. I see countless people hosing down their balconies and drowning the pavements outside their houses with water. The local authorities install watering systems for non-indigenous plants and worse still for grass! Don’t get me wrong… I love a green lawn as much as the next person and even tried once to establish one. I realise now that this is just plain wrong here in Greece.

We have to change this.

The pipes in most houses are old and (quite frankly) crap so we have dripping pipes and taps by default. It’s all very well for Mr. Georgiadis to say we should fix them. Yes, I can fix my leaking tap but I cannot fix the pipe outside my house under the road that pours water for a week before they do anything about it. The water company has to pull its finger out as well.

Water is a precious and essential resource. Those of us who are living in Greece should be acutely aware of the problems of water shortage. But we are not. Here is a list of 25 ways YOU can save water at home. I have highlighted the ones that drive me mad when I see people doing them.

Via eartheasy

1. Check for hidden water leaks
Read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.

2. Check your toilets for leaks
Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.

3. Don’t use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket
Every time you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted.

4. Put plastic bottles in your toilet tank
To cut down on water waste, put an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down. Fill the bottles with water, screw the lids on, and put them in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanisms. This may save ten or more gallons of water per day. Be sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly.
For new installations, consider buying “low flush” toilets, which use 1 to 2 gallons per flush instead of the usual 3 to 5 gallons.

Replacing an 18 liter per flush toilet with an ultra-low volume (ULV) 6 liter flush model represents a 70% savings in water flushed and will cut indoor water use by about 30%.

5. Insulate your water pipes.
It’s easy and inexpensive to insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You’ll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.

6. Install water-saving shower heads and low-flow faucet aerators
Inexpensive water-saving shower heads or restrictors are easy for the homeowner to install. Also, long, hot showers can use five to ten gallons every unneeded minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rinse off.

7. Take shorter showers.
One way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.

8. Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush
There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.

9. Rinse your razor in the sink
Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.

10. Check faucets and pipes for leaks
A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.

11. Use your dishwasher and clothes washer for only full loads
Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an added 20 liters (5 gallons) for the extra rinse. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers.

12. Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units
In sink ‘garburators’ require lots of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to maintenance problems. Start a compost pile or use an indoor kitchen composter as alternate methods of disposing food waste.

13. When washing dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running for rinsing
If your have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a panful of hot water.

14. Don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables
Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or a pan of clean water.

15. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the fridge.
Running tap water to cool it off for drinking water is wasteful.

in the yard and garden…

16. Water your lawn only when it needs it
A good way to see if your lawn needs watering is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move, it doesn’t need water. If it stays flat, the lawn is ready for watering. Letting the grass grow taller (to 3″) will promote water retention in the soil.

17. Deep-soak your lawn
When watering the lawn, do it long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots where it will do the most good. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and tends to encourage shallow root systems. Put an empty tuna can on your lawn – when it’s full, you’ve watered about the right amount. Visit our natural lawn care page for more information.

18. Water during the early parts of the day; avoid watering when it’s windy
Early morning is generally better than dusk since it helps prevent the growth of fungus. Early watering, and late watering, also reduce water loss to evaporation. Watering early in the day is also the best defence against slugs and other garden pests. Try not to water when it’s windy – wind can blow sprinklers off target and speed evaporation.

19. Use efficient watering systems for shrubs, flower beds and lawns
You can greatly reduce the amount of water used for shrubs, beds and lawns with strategic placement of soaker hoses, rain barrel catchment systems and simple drip-irrigation systems. A watering meter can be easily added to your hose, and lawn sprinlker timers can be used to set water usage to required needs.

20. Plant drought-resistant shrubs and plants
Many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other species. Replace herbaceous perennial borders with native plants.

21. Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants
Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth.

22. Don’t water the gutter
Position your sprinklers so water lands on the lawn or garden, not on paved areas. Also, avoid watering on windy days.

24. Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks
[Aside: AND BALCONIES ! I have a friend who would run a hose for 20 to 25 minutes to clean one balcony. She has since changed here habits thanks to some pressure from us ]

23. Don’t run the hose while washing your car
Clean the car using a pail of soapy water. Use the hose only for rinsing – this simple practice can save as much as 150 gallons when washing a car. Use a spray nozzle when rinsing for more efficient use of water.

25. Check for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings
Leaks outside the house may not seem as bad since they’re not as visible. But they can be just as wasteful as leaks indoors. Check frequently to keep them drip-free. Use hose washers at spigots and hose connections to eliminate leaks.

Most people in North America use 50 to 70 gallons of water indoors each day and about the same amount outdoors, depending on the season.
[Aside: I reckon we must be pretty close to this figure in Europe]

Indoors, 3/4 of all water is used in the bathroom

In the average home, the toilet accounts for 28% of water use.

Outdoors, lawn and garden watering and car washing account for most of the water used.

Running a sprinkler for two hours can use up to 500 gallons.

As much as 150 gallons of water can be saved when washing a car by turning the hose off between rinses.

Washing a sidewalk or driveway with a hose uses about 50 gallons of water every 5 minutes


  1. Matt Butts
    March 25, 2008    

    Thanks for the great information. *stumbles*

  2. April 9, 2008    

    > If your have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and
    > one with rinse water.

    This is the typical horror story told by Greeks who study in England: they say that their British roommates simply baptize the plates in water and consider them clean. LoL!

    The standard practice of Greeks is to always rinse with running water, and that’s not going to change, drought or no drought, and I prefer it this way.

  3. Xenos
    April 10, 2008    

    The standard practice of Greeks is to leave all the lights on and waste as much electricity as possible. I suppose that will not change either. What is the excuse for that? I suppose it doesn’t wash plates better…

  4. George
    April 10, 2008    

    I have to agree with Diagoras. I too am guilty of letting the water run while rinsing the dishes. This is mainly because not rinsing the plates well can give you stomach distress.

    However, you can keep the pressure very low when rinsing them one-by-one. This will at least keep the waste to a minimum.

  5. April 10, 2008    

    As I said, I am guilty of running water to rinse my dishes (and I do find it quite disgusting that lots of my English friends do not rinse off the soap). But I do think it’s important for all of us to make the effort to use less water so I am doing as George suggests and keeping the pressure low and I am looking into installing a shower head to the kitchen sink especially for rinsing.

    Change is difficult and habits are hard to break but I think it’s essential that we try. In the end, it’s us who will suffer if we have the droughts in Greece that have been predicted.