After the energy saving bulbs… the water-saving kit?

Climate change committee calls for free distribution of water saving devices.

The Climate Change Committee has called on the government to replicate the free distribution of energy saving light bulbs by introducing another scheme: the free distribution of water-saving kits such as “low water use taps” that can reduce the use of water by households.

Malta could save 500,000 cubic metres of water (the equivalent of 250 million bottles of mineral water) with water-saving devices, according to a report presented last year to the French NGO Plan Bleu by the director of Malta Resources Authority’s water resources services Martin Sapiano.

Water-saving devices are designed to be fitted onto existing appliances. These include aerators, discharge limitation devices and pressure reducers for taps and showers as well as equipment for flushing consisting of plastic bags to be added in the toilet reservoirs.

The water-saving potential of this measure is estimated at 6 cubic metres per household annually, or 15% of water used in taps, showers and toilet flushes.

If only half the Maltese households (85,000 residences) install the water saving devices, the potential annual effect of the measure amounts to set around 500,000m3.

The total cost of this measure was estimated at €485,000.

The proposal to distribute water-saving kits was one of 85 recommendations aimed at helping to country adopt to climate change in various sectors made by the committee chaired by David Spiteri Gingell, former Enemalta chief executive.

Among other proposals made by the committee is a ban on the use of boreholes for landscaping activities such as watering lawns, and the enforcement of the law requiring post-2007 buildings to store rainwater in a cistern. It also calls on the government to set the example by ensuring that its own landscaping projects do not use ground water.

The proposals were issued for public consultation earlier on this month, and the public has until 15 December to submit its proposals. 

Saving water in the bathroom

Installing low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators is considered as the single most effective water conservation method in one’s own home.

Conventional showers use an average 12 litres of water per minute. A tap running strongly can use up to 9 litres of water per minute.

Installing a new low-flow showerhead can result in the reduction of around one-third of water use compared to a conventional showerhead.

To further reduce water consumption, one could also install a low-flow showerhead with a shut-off button or a single-handle shower valve with a pull-on and off flow feature. The advantage of the shut-off feature is that it allows the user to be very water efficient, as one can interrupt the flow while lathering up or shampooing and then resume at the same flow rate and temperature.

Installing a water-saver flush kit in the toilet also saves thousands of litres of water per year. The best way to save water is to install a water-saving device inside the tank at the back of the toilet. The most common water retention device available is the toilet dam. When installed properly, it will save about five litres per flush.

A plastic bag or bottle filled with water and suspended inside the toilet tank could be a water displacement device that’s easy to find and install.

Another way to save as much as 7,000 litres of water annually is to use a cup instead of letting the water flow while brushing one’s teeth.