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Global Economy

How to save valuable water

The fruit trees in the Steinfurt district teaching garden are suffering from the current drought in Germany. The branches are full of apples and pears. But the rain they need to mature and grow is missing. Therefore, the employees have to water them regularly, with water from their own well.

There are a number of ways to save water, says Klaus Krohme, who heads the district teaching garden. Instead of running water sprinklers for hours, they work there with targeted drip irrigation via a hose: "We do this in the evening so that as little water as possible evaporates. This way we can let the water run in very slowly directly at the root path."

Lawn sprinkling not necessary

The lawn of the district teaching garden, on the other hand, remains yellow and dried up. "Blasting it now would really be a waste of water. It will turn green again during the next rainy season," says Krohme.

Instead, he takes care of the vegetable beds on which lettuce and courgettes grow. They are watered every four to five days and previously worked once with a hoe. "Chopping once is as good as pouring twice," explains Krohme. So the soil can store the water longer.

Potential savings in everyday life

And not only in the gardens there is potential for saving water – it is also possible to reduce water consumption in many places in everyday life. Because on average every German uses 123 liters of drinking water per day, according to the Federal Environment Agency. Flushing the toilet alone consumes 27 percent. 36 percent of the daily water quota is used for personal hygiene, i.e. for bathing, showering and brushing your teeth.

In order to keep consumption low, the consumer advice center advises repairing dripping taps immediately and replacing standard shower heads with so-called economy shower heads. For the toilet, experts from the consumer advice center recommend replacing conventional toilet cisterns with water-saving ones. And when doing laundry, you should make sure that the washing machine is really full.

In addition, everyone can consider whether daily showers are really necessary. If you only shower every other day, you can save a lot of water over the year, according to the consumer advice center.

Cisterns as a model for the future

The water researcher Jürgen Jensen thinks one step further. For him, private water consumption is "the smallest problem". He is much more worried about the so-called virtual – the indirect – water consumption. This has increased drastically in recent years. "If you drank a cup of coffee in the morning, statistically, you add 140 liters per day to your 120 liters of everyday consumption."

Another example is the automotive industry: 400,000 liters of water are needed just to produce a car. At the same time, groundwater levels have been falling in many places for years.

"We waste it immeasurably"

"Water is our elixir of life. It is the most important food on earth and we waste it excessively on tasks such as flushing the toilet or washing our car," says Jensen. He sees great potential for Germany in using rainwater, for example via cisterns.

Significantly more savings can also be made in the gray water sector. For example, the domestic waste water that is produced when showering or washing can be cleaned by special gray water systems. Then the water is suitable, for example, for flushing the toilet or for watering the garden.

Own water filling station

They are already implementing such water-saving ideas at the Kezz youth center in Dortmund. They catch rainwater via the gutter in a self-made tank. The so-called water filling station holds 650 liters. They use the rainwater to irrigate their own vegetable garden.

The cistern has been there since autumn of last year, and it has never been empty, says Lisa Hess, head of the youth center: "Even now that it's raining very little, there's still water in it. A decent amount of rain is enough to fill up the tank again fill."

The tank was financed by grants. They bought material from the hardware store for 400 euros, that's all they needed. Lisa Hess is satisfied: "So we have a very good vegetable harvest even in this very dry summer, without using up a drop of drinking water."

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