Sunday, 25 May 2014

Why Waste Water?

Have you signed up at the Water Supplies Department website?
Finally the Hong Kong government is starting to urge its residents to save water.

Our beloved Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po wrote on his blog in Chinese, encouraging the public to get into the habit of using less water to prepare for "the unpredictable future" in the global supply of fresh water.

He said the city cannot rely solely on exploring other sources of fresh water without residents cutting back on their usage.

Currently each resident in Hong Kong uses an average of 130 litres of fresh water every day, higher than other major cities in the world, including Singapore and London.

"We would need to develop more water resources while cutting our water consumption so that we can be in a better position to tackle any uncertainties that may arise in the future," he wrote.

We're wondering how much water Chan and his family uses
He was referring to the shrinking global supply of fresh water due to world population growth, economic development and climate change.

Chan said the Water Supplies Department is exploring new sources of fresh water supply, such as desalination, extension of the seawater for flushing supply system, sewage recycling and rainwater harvesting. But the government also needs residents to decrease the amount of water they use.

Each Hong Konger use 90 litres of flushing water every day, which adds up to a whopping 3.3 million litres -- do we really go to the toilet that often? It's enough to fill the main pool at the Victoria Park Swimming Pool Complex 1,100 times, Chan wrote.

"To adjust our daily habit in water usage does not mean we will go back to the days when water supply was restricted," he wrote. "Water saving can be easy without sacrificing the quality of life."

Some of his tips for a family of four:

Avoid leaving the water running when saving and brushing teeth (save 26 litres);

Soak fruit and vegetables instead of rinsing them under running water (save 14 litres);

Spend a minute less in the shower (save 10 litres).

There's more tips here from the Water Supplies Department.

While Chan is keen to get people on board, the government isn't doing enough to really push people -- force them -- to rethink their habits.

For example there's ads on the bus telling people to join the "Let's Save 10L Water" campaign, and it shows a couple sitting by the laptop to register, but not having them show how to save water -- like the above tips Chan talked about. The government should be literally demonstrating to people how to curb water usage and why it is necessary, otherwise they think this is just another lame public service announcement.

What about forcing all public washrooms to have signs telling people to save water? And while we're at it to use only one paper towel? A friendly reminder like that can hopefully get people to think about the amount of water they are using and try to cut down.

The government really needs to step up the urgency of the issue because we all need to use less water. It should also be charging restaurants and companies for using far more water than we do.

Even if we are willing to pay top dollar for water (which I doubt, but if push comes to shove...), we should still conserve this precious resource.

What would be fun is monitoring Chan's water usage and see how much his family uses each month...

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