Surface water from rivers and canals undergoes a series of physical and chemical treatments before it can adhere to the stringent norms set for drinking water i.e. tap water. Before the quality of groundwater reaches these same norms, it too has to undergo a cleaning process – but, as a rule, this treatment is less extensive. This is because Nature does most of the cleaning while the groundwater runs its underground course.
For this reason, there is a great demand for groundwater and it will keep growing. A person wanting to extract some of this groundwater (e.g. through the use of a borehole) needs to get a permit. These permits aren’t always easy to get because of the strict regulations in place to protect this valuable resource. Additionally, companies using great amounts of groundwater are taxed heavily in an attempt to discourage its use.
In the European Union between 200 and 1000 m³ of groundwater is extracted per person every year. Approximately 56% of this is used by industry, 26% by agriculture and 19% is for domestic use.
Due to a large amount of illicit use of groundwater, it would be safe to say that these figures are merely indicative. In any case, it is common knowledge that there is more groundwater extracted every year than can be replaced by the natural water cycle. Signs of this excessive extraction of groundwater are becoming more prevalent. The decline of groundwater in shallow water tables has lead to the decrease or extinction of a number of drought sensitive plants and animals (amphibians, butterflies, insects.)
Marshes, peat moors, lakes, and other freshwater ecosystems are under bigger threat than they have ever been. Boreholes and wells are drying up more frequently. It is imperative to use these water resources sustainably so that the water cycle can recover and remain balanced.
It goes without saying that water is a valuable resource and it takes considerable effort to produce safe, clean drinking water – and to keep it that way. So the golden rule when approaching water usage is to use less. By changing water consumption habits and implementing certain technological solutions (e.g. water saving shower heads etc) in the home, most people are able to reduce the amount of water they use without sacrificing comfort.
These figures denote the average liter count per person per day, which comes to a total of An average of 110 liters.
- Bath/Shower 44 liters
- Toilet 30 liters *
- Washing 17 liters *
- Dishes 8 liters
- Drinking and cooking 3 liters
- Gardening, washing the car etc 8 liters *
* using filtered rainwater is a perfectly feasible alternative
Surely there must be many creative ways to go about reducing this amount of domestic water usage. Most people can come up with at least one.