In this guide, we look at 3 different solutions for saving water on wider social or community level (as opposed to saving water on the individual level)
Summary – How To Save Water In Society/As A Community
There’s three main sectors that we withdraw fresh water from globally. On average, globally, we use around 70% of fresh water withdrawals on agriculture, 20% in industry, and 10% on municipal.
There’s also a few main ways to save water – be more water efficient, reduce water waste and leaks, and make water saving choices. We’ve listed the different ways to sustainably manage and use water that can be applied generally across each major sector
Water efficiency means producing the same amount for the same amount of water used.
Reducing water waste and leaks involves fixing physical leaks wherever water is used, and reducing both direct and indirect waste of water.
And, making water saving choices means changing the top level choices and decisions that influence how much water is used for a sector or process (such as varying a product or service, changing water infrastructure and equipment, introducing water policies and regulations, and so on).
It makes sense then that the 3 main ways we might save water on a society or community wide scale is to:
- Be water efficient, prevent water waste and leaks, and make water saving choice in agriculture (particularly irrigation)
- Be water efficient, prevent water waste and leaks, and make water saving choices in industry (particularly power generation)
- And, be water efficient in, prevent water waste and leaks, and make water saving choices in the municipal sector (households and public services)
In reality, the scope of saving water across these three sectors is significant, and it varies from each local geographic location to the next around the world.
This guide is just an outline of some of the key points.
1. Save Water In Agriculture (& Irrigation)
Irrigation is perhaps the main area to focus on to save more water in agriculture.
Two of the main areas to focus on with irrigation are:
- Reducing water waste that happens via runoff or evapotranspiration (roughly 60% of water may be wasted in these ways at present)
- Making irrigation systems more water efficient (in some instances, they are only 30 to 40% efficient at the moment)
Other solutions may include but aren’t limited to implementing farming practices that promote soil health, reducing water pollution and contamination from agriculture, re-considering the water footprint of agricultural products being produced, and so on.
2. Save Water In Industry
There’s several key areas that might be focussed on in industry, but perhaps four of the key areas might be:
- Waste water treatment (to prevent water pollution), and waste water recycling and re-use (of effluent, grey water, and so on)
- In energy and thermo electric power generation, saving more fresh water or becoming more water efficient with cooling processes, especially once through systems (such as re-using water, or using salt water)
- Using water efficient forms of energy for electricity (wind, solar photovoltaic and natural gas over coal)
- Fixing water leaks at industrial factories and sites
3. Save Water In The Municipal Sector
This involves households and public services.
Water can be saved at the public supply level i.e. at water treatment plants and in public supply pipes BEFORE it gets to the end user, or at the user level (e.g. in households) AFTER it has been extracted, treated, transported and delivered.
A few major ways to save water in this sector might be:
- Fix leaks and water loss in public supply pipes and water infrastructure – by upgrading old or poorly maintained pipes, installing leak detection and alert software, and sensors on pipes that are prone to leaks and waste, being able to respond to pipe leaks quicker, and addressing water loss at water treatment plants
- Addressing issues certain regions – that involve water theft, and water metering problems, that impact the public supply
- At the household or public service level – using water efficient devices and appliances, not running water unnecessarily, fixing leaks (in taps, pipes, toilets, etc), running water efficient sprinklers, and so on. Public services can also run water efficient equipment and systems such as sprinkler and irrigation systems. Not wasting as much food, in particular vegetables and fruits (which have a water footprint to grow), at the consumer level
Read more about water use and saving water around the house in these guides:
- How Much Water We Use At Home & How We Use It
- How Much Water Common Household Appliances & Devices Use
- How To Save Water At Home