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How to adapt your garden and household to persistent drought

It is well known that Europe has generally high quality water. What is worse on the other hand is the state of water sources and levels of groundwater. Drought gets worse every year and causes problems not only for nature, farmers and gardeners, but also for the general population, which is vitally dependent on local sources of drinking water. At the same time, we can all contribute to the solution. Due to proper water management, you can help not only the environment, but also your health and your wallet. Find out how.

Why are Europe's natural water sources in bad state? 

Our landscape suffers from drought mainly due to insensitive human intervention in the 20th century. Rapid urbanization, riverbed straightening, targeted drainage of wetlands, expansion of agricultural land and many other factors have caused our soil to lose its ability to retain and soak up water. This problem is being solved only very slowly and often controversially.

Another ecological problem related to the loss of our soil's ability to absorb water, is weather fluctuation caused by climate change. This brings increasingly frequent periods of drought and torrential rains, which the degraded soil does not absorb. This causes floods, but paradoxically, the loss of water in the landscape continues.

How to save water at home

First of all, focus on your household water consumption. It can be significantly reduced with a few simple steps that are not financially demanding and will not reduce your convenience in any way.

  1. Dishwasher. You use up to a half of water for washing dishes in a dishwasher. If you don't have a dishwasher, wash dishes in a sink filled with water, not under running water. When you are on a lookout for a new dishwasher or washing machine, focus on water consumption.
  2. Get an aerator for your faucets and shower to reduce water usage. You can buy simple ones for just a few Euros.
  3. Install a device on the toilet that you can use to reduce the volume of water for flushing. It is also a small yet effective investment.
  4. Fix dripping faucets and leaking toilets immediately.
  5. Prefer showering over bathing and limit shower time. Close the faucet while washing your hands and brushing your teeth, and only run appliances (washing machine, dishwasher) when they are full.
  6. With a lever or thermostatic battery, you can save water and energy thanks to the fact that they better regulate the water temperature.

Dripping tap increases water consumption by approximately 50 liters per day, a leaking toilet by up to 500 liters per day.

Water retention in your garden

Every household with a garden can significantly influence the quality of the environment in its immediate surroundings, on its own property. How? In particular, it is necessary to learn to retain water in your garden. This will positively affect the microclimate and the health of your plants, as well as your harvest.

  1. Ideally build a pond in the garden, which will have a positive effect on humidity, and will also become a water source for birds and insects.
  2. Never water the garden with tap water. It is a waste and chemically treated water is definitely not suitable for plants. Ideally use rainwater or recycled gray water for irrigation. Water early mornings or evenings, because a significant volume of the water could evaporate duting scorching sun.
  3. Prevent water evaporation. Extremely cut grass is dead, does not retain water and does not provide habitat for insects and other animals. Therefore, limit mowing, do not rake grass or leaves, as created layer of humus holds water well and supports the cycle of nutrients in the soil. Soil nourished in this way then absorbs and retains water much better.
  4. Plant as many different plants as possible in the garden - trees, shrubs and grasses. Thanks to the vertically divided vegetation, your garden will capture many times more water, and in addition, it will provide the soil with the necessary shade.

Make the most of rainwater and greywater

Did you know that we only use 3% of water for cooking and drinking? Alternative water sources can be used for all other purposes. Rainwater and gray water often go down the drain completely unnecessarily, but they can be used very efficiently.

Rainwater can simply flow directly from a roof gutter into a tank. You can use this water not only for watering your garden, but after proper treatment and filtration it can also be used as utility water in your home, for flushing or cleaning.

Gray water is household waste water that does not contain faeces, urine and organic impurities, it is especially water from your bathroom. By recycling gray water using a so-called gray water purifier, you can get a source of high-quality drinking water completely free of charge. Water purified in this way is also suitable for personal hygiene.

Rainwater collection and gray water recycling can save you up to 1000 EUR per yer. 

It is best to water the garden with rainwater and try to prevent water evaporation.

Use your own water sources

Although water from your own sources (a well or a borehole) has no positive effect on the environment, it can provide you with the necessary self-sustainability and financial savings. In addition, you can manage the quality of this water yourself.

If you don't have your own well yet, you may have a professional hydrogeological report done. It will assess the availability of groundwater on youe property. It is better to choose a deep borehole, shallow dug wells are drying up quickly and the lack of water may not return your investment.

When your well is done, have a professional water analysis done. You will discover what types of pollution may be in the water. It can be:

  • Mechanical impurities that can be easily removed with a water filter with a mesh.
  • Chemical and organic pollution, which can be dealt with by a carbon filter, which also improves the smell and taste of water.
  • Biological contamination (bacteria, viruses, microorganisms) that poses a risk to your health and must be dealt with by proper disinfection.

Specific methods of water filtration and treatment should always be suggested by an expert based on water analysis.

Each of us can contribute to improving the state of water resources in Europe. Adapt your home and garden to the ongoing drought and help the enviroment cope with climate change.