This is a blog of the 31 things we will be doing in the month of January 2010 as part of our sustainable communities group. This post explains it all.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

9. get shower timer and use it

A dry creek bed near our house.

I've been reading about water in South Australia. As a state South Australia is often touted as "The driest state in the driest country in the world". As such, Adelaide is heavily dependent on the River Murray for our water needs. With lower rainfall in many catchments, including the Murray-Darling, and increased demand from farming and domestic water users, our state's water use is far from sustainable. Meanwhile the aquifer under us is, in some parts of the state, running dry while others have to deal with rising salt. Mining requires a huge percentage of this. There are plans for a desalination plant to clean seawater but that's at least four years off and has many environmental and social impacts.

Help me! I am a giant Australian Cuttlefish! (image from here)

While it will supply domestic users, the desalination plant is basically being made to keep the world's largest uranium mine in water. The environmental impacts have been sidelined and South Australia is in danger of making a big mistake.

Cass sending a letter to the Mike Rann about uranium mining.

Stormwater recycling is an under-examined option with a great deal of potential. On the domestic front, we're interested in grey water systems and rain harvesting and storage tanks. As we are renting this gets a little more tricky but not impossible. Inspired by Cass' defacto sister-in-law Em, we've done some rain water harvesting into a spare green wheelie bin in the last few big rains we've had. Em is the executive director of Riversides, a Torontonian water conservation NGO.

This is a picture of Em impersonating a kangaroo on her recent visit to Adelaide.

It was taken on the rooftop garden at Christie Walk, Adelaide's inner city eco-housing community. When she and Cass' brother Chris were here we got all fired up to build a mudbrick rain water tank but time only permitted us to wheel a green bin into position under the overflow from our shared backyard neighbour/housemates Anna and Lily's gutter.
If you do have the dosh to get something done right rebates are available, and it's not too expensive.

Our system isn't the most glamorous in the land but it works.

Another lo-fi watering measure is to place a hole in the lid of a bottle and put it upside down in the soil at the base of a tree. That way the tree gets water all day long.

A hole in the lid

This is great for plants that are establishing themselves as it gives a good steady supply. I got the idea from the bottles near the meeting the other day.

Also good for plants in recovery, the lemon tree's leaves are getting greener by the day.

Alison giving us some info.

The Water Wise Communities initiative which Cass' sister Alison put us onto seems like a good place to take some action. She saw number 9 on our list and said there are Water Wise kits available which include a shower timer. As our council is not yet on board with this we are going to try to get one from someone in another council area. I'll post an update with a bit more when we can get our hands on one. The pack will be most useful but till we get it we'll just have to rely on being late to give us the incentive for short showers.

Water wise communities

We've sent them an email and stopped round.

And finally here's something a little bit educational. The game is very cute.


  1. teh water wise communities stuf looks good, I'm gonna check up on tht. we put a bin under our downspout and it overflowed.

  2. I just registered for the water wise kit, not knowing you have to print the confirmation page and take it to the local council! And my computer doesn't have a printer at the moment! So I'm trying to get the page off my computer and onto Candice's so I can print it.

    In other news, we have a shower timer, so when we get our water wise kit you can have the one from the kit.

  3. Also I tweeted the link to the water wise kit, now all of ATUB (the Adelaide Twitter Underground Brigade) are getting them! Well those in participating council areas anyway.