Ideas for saving water



A global 'axis of life' turns on water,
peace and viable population limits.

A campaign plan on four fronts.

  1. Water-saving lifestyles
  2. Government and regional planning and management.
  3. Changes in the economy and production.
  4. Urban and residential planning and management.
  5. Related sites

1. Sustainable lifestyles
with low water consumption and high quality of life

A personal experiment found that comfortable living and hygiene plus a quarter-acre garden is possible on 42 litres or less a day. Below 22 litres a day in winter, survival is, well, possible as in desert Africa but . . .

  • One person's actions multiplied by 20 million people make a hell of a difference. So can small and simple water savers. Innovations and practices in water-saving can be demonstrated on TV, improved thru talkback radio and developed as SkillOlympic sports.
  • Greywater can be diverted in new and renovated houses to flush lavatories and water gardens - for exercise you can use buckets.
  • Washing up - use plastic basins within sinks rather than filling large sinks to the brim. • Icecream containers within basins can be used at home to save water in handwashing - especially in basins without plugs. Cleaning difficulties need overcoming for a similar design solution in public washrooms.
  • A mini-handbasin in a lavatory saves water and transmission of infections. • A water-proof clock in the shower or visible gauge of water-use helps reduce time spent showering.
  • VYule's cheap, flexible and effective roofwater invention fits on downpipes, diverting rainwater to wherever you want in the garden, or save in a tank, or just let go down the drain.
  • Washing machines. Simple twin-tubs have advantages even over front-loaders for small households without children or workers in grime-making occupations. They save and re-use water, last longer with less maintenance and the little extra operating time is exercise.
  • Domestic cleaning alternatives can cut the unnecessary household use of drainwater-polluting chemicals encouraged by advertising.
  • On-site eco-toilets are increasingly practicable.
  • Garden design and planting can be more drought-proof.

More Ideas for Saving Water at Home


- Gardens must be the last beautiful thing to go because of the the world's increasing need to save water. Gardens make such a difference to the quality of life in cities, in the country, and in homes.

But all over the world, clean water is becoming in short supply and wars are being fought over water, and more wars will be fought over water.

In Australia with our droughts as well as floods, ways to save water can maintain our quality
of life, and can also be shared with other countries overseas. The ideas here are all simple.


All new housing should be designed to be able to recycle the grey water from bathroom and laundry either for the toilet or garden.

(As an awful experiment, this household used buckets from shower and laundry for flushing, and found that it saved 100 litres a day. But this is a rather shocking experiment, and it would be far better for greywater to be diverted simply by the plumbing.

New housing that has gardens should be designed with the possibility of installing rain-water tanks.

Roofwater as drinking water. In suitable areas, at least a portion of each building's roof area could be designed to allow this.


A waterproof clock for the wall inside the shower could be good to help people to economise on shower water. Everyone in the family can tell how long they have been under.

Or time yourself by how the buckets in the shower are filling.


Instead of advertising Shampoos as having the benefits that they can be used for washing hair daily in the shower, design and advertise shampoos that will 'keep your hair looking beautiful for a week'.

These would save a tremendous amount of water. Suffering shampoo makers could diversify into non-toxic garden sprays with similar ingredients - I have tried some on aphids and cotton-scale.


Smaller water-containers such as Icecream containers can be used within basins at home to save water in handwashing - especially in basins without plugs.
Cleaning difficulties would probably prevent a similar design solution in public lavatories, but some breakthrough might be possible. Certainly a trained public could use basins with plugs plus an overflow pipe, or taps that delivered only a certain amount of water per push/turn.

Miniature handbasin in each lavatory cubicle, plus a small towel-rail, in homes, wherever the lavatory is not in a bathroom. This not only saves water, but because it is next to the lavatory, it helps to prevent transmission of gastro- and other diseases that currently people expect to 'go through the family'.


Recommend a plastic wash-up basin to use within a large sink when there is only a little washing up or rinsing to do.
The plastic also reduces breakages. (And have a rinsing basin if you have two sinks, plus a quality two-tier draining rack to avoid the need to dry dishes._


Domestic cleansers are a considerable pollution problem in drainage and sewage, and through advertising householders are encouraged to use stronger chemicals and much much more of them than are necessary. Water industries as well as conservationists could press for more jobs and businesses in conservation industries rather than in production and sale of excessive and often unnecessary domestic chemicals.


A Roof-water Diverter © fitted on external downpipes so that rainwater can be diverted to the ga

rden as needed. It has the multiple advantages of being cheap, simple, flexible and effective. Most people cannot afford expensive drip watering systems.

As our population grows, and our erratic climate becomes more erratic, saving water becomes essential. Water tanks are now allowed for suburban gardens, but they take up space and can be expensive.

The diagram shows a roofwater diverter installed at our home for watering the garden. From a top view, the lid is a rectangle wiith a cut-out at the back away for the angled downpipe, and has a flange on the front. It just fits on top and is completelty removable. The diagrams are not to scale.

This diverter allows rainwater from the roof to be diverted to any dry part of the garden at any time, by an ordinary garden hose or cheap agricultural plastic hose. The water goes down the hose by gravity. If the garden is watered sufficiently or if there is overflow, the water can go straight down the downpipe, because the outlet can be blocked by a cork at any time. The water goes down the overflow, and not down the hose. In two years of Melbourne drought, I have only had to to cork a diverter once, when the little puddles were starting to spread in the garden. A strainer (e.g. from a mesh tea-strainer) fixed over the outlet can prevent blockages. If necessary, leaves, silt etc. which collect at the bottom of the box can be removed easily.

Cost apart from existing downpipe box: Hose connection A$7 Agricultural hose A$7Altering downpipe box - price of plumber or handiman - -

Dimensions of my own roofwater diverters, Downpipe - 13" from ground to bottom of box, 7" from bottom of box to bottom of upper downpipe 4" across -(standard size), Upper downpipe 2" from top of box to bottom of upper downpipe., Box 12" wide, 9" high, 9" from wall to front of box., 1" from bottom of box to bottom of outlet hole. There is 7" space within the box between the front of the box and the front of the downpipe inside it. The upper downpipe is stuck to the back of the box (2") but there is space between the wall above it and the back of the spouting.The box has to be 13" high from the ground, or higher, to get a decent

Variations : The diverter box could be placed high enough on the downpipe for a tank to be filled, or to allow higher parts of the garden to be watered by gravity.

This sort of simple gadget could be produced and sold cheaply, so that people can install it simply by putting a section in a downpipe from the roof. If anyone makes a profit from it - give us a royalty which we will use for further conservation developments.

A note on this invention has been published in the journal Alternative Technologies


A modern dual sewage/drainage system that can use human sewage for fertiliser unmixed with chemical effluents.

This could be done at source with eco-toilets and/or at sewage treatment centres.

Better ways are needed to salvage and re-use chemicals that are currently flushed into the ecosystem.

For example - in less visible print to avoid shocking modern eyes - A hundred years ago our ancestors used urine for many purposes - including bleaching linen as well as enriching compost. We waste this resource.

2 Government and regional planning and management

  • Water Alert to publicise internationally: - recommendations for global water planning. Also make clear Australia's water limitations, so there is no international perception that here is an empty country not making the most of itself. Every Australian learns Water Alert from childhood, including why rivers need to flow, since the traditional view has been that this is a waste.
  • Ownership of water is vested in the Commonwealth. It is secured from foreign and domestic exploitation for profit. Early Victorian water legislation sets precedents for protection of resources.
  • ISAGIATT ( It Seemed a Good Idea at the Time) teaches caution from examples - a) Swamps were originally drained to eliminate sources of diseases such as malaria. Especially with climate change, swamps near population may again become health risks. b) Wells can bring up contaminated water, as with arsenic in Bangladesh c) Gung-ho irrigation practices have caused salination.
  • Conservative management for non-renewing artesian resources.
  • Senior public servants in water supply have tenure, and expertise in water supply. Archives are preserved.
  • Regional water management under Federal supervision, with States cooperation that is not hamstrung by boundaries.
  • Policies for population-sizes that can cope with periods of severe drought and flood. Scientific progress is not assumed until that progress is actually made.
  • Planning recognition that to increase river flows and prevent salination means less water available overall, including for agricultural commodities such as cotton and tobacco.
  • Finding ways to pay for 'jobs that are needed', with high priority for research and development, including CSIRO.
  • Encouraging research and inventions at every level of society, including popularising this interest with 'social inventing' on TV and talkback radio.
  • Major inventions needed include ways to change climate patterns (cautiously, due to ISAGIATT); encouraging/discouraging rainfall; desalination techniques; preventing soil salination; cheap freshwater from saltwater and other sources; more uses for salt; turning sodium chloride into something else; uses for chemical contaminants in polluted groundwater; waste-free transport of water, including cheap long-life piping, with itinerant rather than fixed pumping where appropriate; more economical industrial uses of water; developing plants with minimal water needs and able to survive droughts; sewage as safe fertiliser with possibly dual sewerage systems; techniques to salvage and re-use chemicals currently flushed into the ecosystem; harvesting for use and/or destroying algal blooms, European carp, water weeds, and other feral pests that damage water systems; collecting water from areas where currently it is has no uses; techniques for fire-fighting and fire-prevention using minimum water.

3. Changes in the economy and production,
since 'all things connect'

Preference to be given to 'public enterprise' in competitive and co-operative management of water supplies. Regulate any private water utilities that profit from greater use of water.,

  • Greedy interests can scent profits in water rights. Water rights policies must be alert to possible consequences - eg to put trading in water rights on the market risks their aggregation in plutocratic sinks, possibly even foreign owned. Wider global economic structuring means caution is needed about risking loss of government powers for control and intervention regarding water, to overseas or domestic interests with profit priorities.
  • More diversification of production can enable less reliance on unreliable food exports as a balance for imports. We pay too much in 'future cost' for primary exports produced by unsustainable agriculture, which may be reducing our future ability to feed ourselves.
  • Consumption patterns and sales practices for food and cotton waste much of production (eg in fresh food outlets and non-durable cotton goods). Saving paper, including less waste in disposable paper goods, saves water as well as trees.
  • Reducing production and consumption that use water unnecessarily will mean loss of some jobs, but require others: -
  • a) Jobs to go in logging catchments and clearfell logging but more jobs in conserving forestry and selective logging, reduced farming in semi-arid areas,less manufacture and sale of unnecessary chemicals and cleaners, shoddy cotton goods and clothes that need constant cleaning, private swimming pools in arid areas, and changes in hairdressing with innovative procedures to save water.

  • More jobs in water management, innovative products and services, research, and switches of employment as in educational media (eg replacing production of unnecessary new textbooks.)
  • Needed, ways to pay for the new useful jobs, since most may not produce immediate financial profit. (Complementary recycling regional currencies could help)

4. Urban and housing planning and management of water

  • Melbourne as an example. The current impact of drought and bushfires must surely cause the State government to abandon its proclaimed goal for Melbourne of a million more people, merely to raise land values and increase sales turnovers at the cost of great sacrifices in comfortable living and future severe crises of discomfort. Research projects show how the developer-enriching new housing and roads in Melbourne's North-East threaten Westernport with their pollution and run-off.

    It would be sad indeed if Melbourne could no longer be a renowned Garden City, - already deteriorating as monoculture desert plants replace lovely biodiversity in public areas. If Melbourne's size stays within its present and foreseeable limits of water supply, we can all have streets with trees, parks to enjoy and play in, access to a swimming pool, tap water still the 'world's best drink', and flower gardens and wood fires if we want them.
  • Building practices. More teeth for the Good Design Guide to prevent water-careless house designs and estate planning, especially in drought or flood-prone areas. All new building and renovations   must have greater provision for on-site collection of rainwater, re-use of greywater, and 'conservation comforts'. Even the fashionable water-wasting handbasins can be redesigned.

    • No more road tunnels gluttonous of quality water, as at Burnley, Melbourne
    • Urban water pricing must not be regressive, favoring over-use by the wealthy.
    • Details matter, eg. Public washrooms need only one full-size basin, the remaining basins need hold only sufficient water to wash a man's hands.

Conclusion: the axis of life

Whatever your idea of an axis of evil, the 'axis of life' is Water, Peace and a reasonable Population size that does not constantly take up any slack produced by further sources of water or water economies. Water is now a source of conflict globally, more severe than our competing interests in the Murray Darling Basin. The ideal is sufficient accessible and suitable water for drinking, cleaning, agriculture, industry, and enjoyment. Yet most people in the world already run short of their basic water needs, and still more people will mean less.

Modern technology and know-how's most vital future achievement will not be Star Wars or Son of Star Wars, but to ensure sufficient water, and to enable populations not to outrun that resource.

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