Tang Hall Beck (photo by Lewis Outing) - In July 2015, St Nicks received its fifth consecutive Green Flag Community Award thanks in no small part to the tireless work of volunteers in maintaining Osbaldwick Beck and Tang Hall Beck as natural, litter-free waterways. Such efforts help reduce water pollution not only in the areas covered by the nature reserve but also much further downstream contributing to a positive impact on local water resources. Natural waterways have also been helped by improvements to the habitat of native species such as water voles and through invasive species clearing.
Water is a precious resource without which life would not exist. Our use of it is not always visible – we see the water in our showers, drinks and washing but even more water is used to grow our food and make our clothes or other products. The Sustainable Water principle is described by Bioregional as ‘using water efficiently in buildings, farming and manufacturing [and] designing to avoid local issues such as flooding, drought and water course pollution.’
There are many ways in which dedication to this principle is in evidence at St Nicks, most notably by utilising compost toilets and a straw bale urinal rather than standard toilets. We save thousands of litres of water every year by not having to flush our toilets, and we produce great compost which we use to help young trees when planting them out in the clay on the nature reserve. We appreciate that this approach to water saving may not appeal to everyone but there are many other ways in which one can save water.
How can you save water and help keep it clean?
Below are just some of the many reasons why it’s good to save water, not least because it saves energy and money:
(Most of the following statistics came from At Home With Water report produced by the Energy Saving Trust in 2013)
- An average individual in the UK directly uses around 150 litres of water each day (see how we compare with other countries when accounting for all the water used).
- A quarter of household water use is from showers and just under a quarter from toilets. Every year in the UK, enough water to fill 300,000 Olympic sized swimming pools is flushed down the toilet.
- Around 6% of the UK’s CO2 emissions come from the energy needed for water use and heating water accounts for about a fifth of a typical UK gas heated household’s heating bill.
- The water sector is the third most energy intensive in the UK – vast amounts of energy are needed to provide homes with water, heat it and treat it (both on the way to our homes and on its way back into rivers). The energy use of the water sector has doubled since 1990 so water efficiency is more important than ever.
- Aside from all this direct water use and thanks to our global economy, each consumer on average ‘eats’ as much as 5,000 litres of water every day (ranging from 1,500 to 10,000 litres per day, depending on where you live and what you eat).