Schools have many of the same appliances you would find in your home. Toilets, dishwashers, washing machines and sink taps are found at most schools, as well as drinking taps.
Below is a list of ways you can save water in your school. Check out the Schools Water Efficiency Program for information about how you can track your usage.
A slow leak can result in the loss of 30 litres a day! This works out to be 73 bath-fulls per year. If a tap is still leaking after it is turned off tight, you may need to let a teacher know, so the school property manager can replace the washer inside the tap.
A lot of water goes straight down the drain when we use drink taps at schools. A good way to capture this water for use is to put buckets under the taps. The water that is collected in the buckets can then be used for the school gardens.
Many schools have washing machines for things like sport uniforms and tea towels from cooking classes. Every time the washing machine runs, it uses about 120 litres of water (nearly one bath-full). So make every wash count, by making sure they are full loads.
Dishwashers are found in most school staff rooms. Don't rinse dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. Use the 'Rinse & Hold’ setting instead. Always make sure that the dishwasher is full before it’s used. Remember, each load uses about 35 litres of water.
Many schools collect rainwater from the school rooftops to use for toilet flushing. This is a great way to make the most efficient use of water, with toilet flushing generally being the biggest use of water in a school. Students and staff should also make sure they use the half flush button when possible!
Water efficiency in the garden
Planning the design of school gardens can save up to half of the water used. Some ways this can be done are:
- Plant windbreaks to reduce the drying effect of the wind.
- Use plants that are good at coping in dry conditions.
- Keep lawns to a minimum.
- Use paving materials which allow water to soak through them rather than running off into the stormwater drain.
- Install rainwater tanks to collect water for use on the school grounds.
- Use a good mulch and plenty of it.
Mulch stops the soil drying out from evaporation and some types of mulch can also provide the plants with important nutrients through the soil. Mulching also helps control weed growth.
Choose appropriate plants
Many native Australian plants have low water requirements. Contact your local nursery or the Society for Growing Australian Plants for advice.
Weeds compete for water and nutrients in the garden. Once they are removed a good mulch will help to keep weeds away.
Keeping it green
A lawn is a high user of water in school grounds and reducing the amount of lawn the school has offers the chance to reduce water use significantly.
Check the permanent water rules for information about when you can and can't water.
Use a trigger nozzle on your hose
This means that you are in control and water is not wasted when moving the hose around - but remember to turn off the tap when finished in case the hose springs a leak!
Garden irrigation systems
Install a dripper system in school garden beds. A dripper system drips water on, or near to the root zone of plants. This is probably the most beneficial and efficient method of watering plants. It places the water right where it's needed and at a rate the soil can absorb. It's also cheap and easy to install.
Always check whether water restrictions are in place. Under some restrictions you may use a manual dripper system that you turn on or off by hand, or automatic dripper systems that turn themselves on or off.
Remember, most gardens do not need hours of watering. Please water according to your plant’s needs.