Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth with a limited water supply, but a typical Aussie lifestyle uses a lot of water. Each year Australia uses 14,101,000,000,000 litres of water or 629,000 litres per person (which makes us one of the highest consumers of water in the world. The average Sunshine Coast resident uses 651,249 litres of water per year or 1785 litres per day – enough to fill 119 large water bottles.
According to the Urban Water Alliance Sunshine Coast residents are the highest in-house water users in South East Queensland using 170.8 litres of water per person per day. The same study found that residents in Brisbane residents used 143.8 (18% less), Gold Coast Residents 140.8 (21% less) and Ipswhich residents 111.2 (53% less).
The poor performance of our region is particularly shameful as we are also the region that receives the highest annual rainfall. With a 5,000 litre tank plumbed into the toilet, laundry and external taps you could reduce your potable water use by 42%. On average the region receives enough rain each month to harvest this water from a roof of just 150 square meters.
But of course direct water use in the home is only a small quantity of our overall water use (just under 10% to be precise). The lion share of our water footprint does not come from potable water use but from the water required to make all the things that we use. For example it takes as much water to make four squares of chocolate as it takes to have an 8 minutes shower every day for a week (looking for a quilt free shower – just give up the chocolate).
Products that require a lot of water to produce include:
- Wool – 500,000 litres per kilogram
- Cotton – 25,000 litres per kilogram
- Chocolate – 24,000 litres per kilogram
- Beef – 15,500 litres per kilogram
- Rice – 3,000 litres per kilogram
- Paper – 10 litres per sheet
Compare this to household uses:
- Old Fashioned Shower – 20 litres per minute
- Efficient Shower – 11 litres per minute
- Toilet – 9 litres per flush
- Dishwasher – 20 litres per load
- Top loading washing machine – 65 litres per load
- Front loading washing machine – 40 litres per load
It is of course important to be conscious about your water use in the home but if you are concerned about the impact you are having on the the environment (and not just on Unity water) you should probably consider the food you eat and the clothes you wear as well as the time you spend in the shower.