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16  June

COLUMN: Saving water despite the wet winter

31/05/2024 @ 09:28


After the wet winter we’ve had, saving water may be the last thing which comes to mind, but water scarcity is a serious issue for nearly all Earth’s inhabitants!

The average person in the UK uses 142 litres of water a day, so there’s definitely room for improvement! Saving water is an easy action we can all take to address climate change and help wildlife.

So why save water? Well, aside from the obvious – we need it to drink, clean and wash – we also use it to produce many of the things we use, from the clothes we wear, to the food we eat.

But that’s not all. As energy is needed to filter, heat and pump water to your home, reducing your water use also reduces your carbon footprint. And conserving water can save you money.

Fresh, clean water is a scarce resource on our planet; using less water keeps more in our rivers, streams and wetlands, which benefits all the animals, plants and fungi which rely on them, such as dragonflies, kingfishers and fish.

So how do we save water? In a previous column we extolled the virtues of water butts (; be sure to install at least one if you are able. At the end of the article are a few links to many more top tips; here we share some which will directly benefit wildlife in your local area too:

  • Do less in the garden and give nature a chance to adapt. For example, never water the lawn; rest assured, it will go green again as soon as it rains. By mowing less frequently on a higher setting, or even not at all, the grass will also be more drought tolerant.
  • When buying plants for the garden, choose species which are good for wildlife and are drought resistant.
  • Avoid having bare soil in your vegetable garden, by making use of companion planting and allowing some weeds to grow. They will bring more allies in to help protect your crops, as well as reducing evaporation.
  • If planting in pots, cluster them together and, wherever possible, ensure they are sited to maximise the amount of rain they will get. If you need to water, use rainwater from your water butts.
  • Mulch round plants: it can reduce evaporation by up to 75%!
  • Never use pesticides or herbicides; the final product is largely comprised of water, or needs it for application, and water is also used in the production. The use of chemicals just upsets the natural balance making more work and costing more in the long run.
  • When providing water for wildlife, use rainwater if possible. Ponds are even better, as they provide habitat too, and will take longer to dry out.
  • Don’t top up ponds; it can be distressing to watch the water disappear, but adding tap water is more damaging, and most pond life is more resilient than you think.
  • Use a washing-up bowl in the sink; this reduces the amount of water you use, and you can also use it to water the plants afterwards, as long as you use eco-friendly washing up liquid (and let it cool first!).
  • Also wash fruit & veg in a bowl and use that to water the plants afterwards too.
  • Keep the hose at the back of the shed! It really makes you think twice whether you actually need it!
  • If hot water takes time to come through and you have to run the tap, collect the cold water in a jug and use elsewhere.

We are extremely lucky to be able to just turn on taps and get clean water whenever we want! The best way to save water is to think about how we use it and get creative with ways to save it. Have fun!

Further top tips:

MWT website:

Friends of the Earth:

Energy Saving Trust:


Dragonflies, like the male Broad-bodied Chaser, need water to raise the next generation ой© Kevin Heywood.

Grassed areas left to grow long can be beautiful, as well as being more resilient in times of drought © Tamasine Stretton.