In assessing a site for a potential new build, one of the key points to cover in the assessment will be the access to a water supply, and the drainage potential.
How much water is used per household or building is a major issue the world over, not just in hot and dry countries where water is continually in short supply, such as Australia or the Middle East; most countries in this region are dependent on underground aquifers, shipping in extra supplies from other countries (and thus it becomes a political commodity), or developing technologies to convert brackish water to drinking quality standard (or agricultural usage).
Across the UK, with heatwaves, droughts, and hosepipe bans becoming the norm, our water use needs to be continually monitored, and reduced, or ideally recycled, where possible. By recycling, this means using runoff water from the roof for the garden, and also looking into filtering water from the kitchen and bathroom for garden and external use as well. All buildings should now have a water meter system, in line with Government recommendations.
An Adequate, Secure Water Supply
Choosing the site of a potential new build, or even to use and restore an existing building, do bear in mind where the water supply is, how to connect to it, and how by doing this might affect the supply for others, and the impact upon the local area.
Some areas have private, group water systems – if this is the case, do check first the cost and maintenance requirements, before you commit the property to the scheme.
Also, if there is a lot of land around the potential site, try to find out if there are any springs in the area. First and foremost, as well as a potential water supply, any springs need to be adequately protected, and made safe from any damage due to construction.
It is the goal of most sustainable builders and renewable energy enthusiasts to get their property and lifestyle ‘off the national grid’, that is harnessing power from the sun and wind for electricity, and using their own water supply, instead of the national water system.
Water is increasingly expensive, and we cannot control the chemicals added to it before it reaches our system, or the filtration methods used. Having our own spring, for drinking water as well as general household use – as well as potentially creating electricity, as shown recently in the BBC TV series ‘Its not easy being green’, where the family built an impressive waterwheel to power some of the household electricity; is an ideal situation.
Further considerations to bear in mind are that the water supply you do have, whether a spring on site, connection to the national or a local group supply, needs to be protected from pollution, and this includes pollution from storm water runoff that may occur. Check if the area is susceptible to flooding, and what the drainage options are. If needs be, with a new build, build well above the historic flood levels of the area.
Using Water Wisely
Once the house is built, or renovated, be sure to include some water-saving devices in the home. Good building design can greatly reduce the amount of water we use and the degree of contamination we cause.
Checking the pressure on taps and showers, or quickly fixing leaky plumbing can prevent a huge wastage of this precious commodity. Using short flush facility toilets (that have both short flush and long flush options), which are now mandatory in some countries for all newly-built buildings, is important. Water-less toilets might also be an option. The most important point to bear in mind is that water, though seemingly limitless, is the most precious resource we have, and using it carefully and wisely is the essence of living sustainably.