Waste Not, Want Not
The enormous fires that burned through Australia last year and this year have scientists very concerned. They worry that when the rains fall, they will wash the ash left by the fires into the rivers and pollute Australia’s water supply, a situation that would leave thousands of Australians without drinking water.
This looming water crisis in Australia has also called attention to Taiwan’s own dangers of water shortage. Although Taiwan has an average rainfall of 2,500 millimeters per year, its lack of storage capacity means that much of that rainfall flows into the ocean. In fact, the nation’s reservoirs can only store about six weeks’ worth of water before running completely dry. As a result, Taiwan faced water shortages nine times between 2002 and 2015.
An additional element that perpetuates this problem is the low cost of water in Taiwan—one of the lowest in the world. Inexpensive water bills mean people hardly think about saving water. And although a rise in water prices could reduce Taiwan’s water usage significantly, no politician is brave enough to suggest that solution. To reduce the risk of a severe water crisis in the future, it’s therefore up to us to cut back on the amount of water we use.
To figure out what actions are needed to conserve water, it helps to know where water is being wasted. In an average household, flushing the toilet and showering account for an overwhelming percentage of all water used. It stands to reason, then, that the most significant change you can make is to your bathroom habits.
Everyone loves a long hot shower, but do try to limit your shower time to around five minutes. To help you stick to this rule, find a five-minute-long song that you can play while showering, and make sure you’re finished when it ends!
Limiting your shower time is pointless if you’re allowing the shower water to drain away while it warms up. To solve this, collect that initial stream of cold water in a container. You can then use that water to flush your toilet. Besides trying to minimize the number of times you flush, check your toilet for leaks. After all, leakages are the biggest waste of water.
You may think these small actions won’t make much of a difference, but there are over 23 million people in Taiwan. If everyone takes steps to waste less water, the nation’s water security is all but assured.