Reduce water consumption

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Reduce water consumption

Category 01. Water flow quantity improvement

General description

Each European spends an average of 180 liters of water per day, compared to 25 liters consumed in underdeveloped areas, and the 80 liters recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), for vital needs and personal hygiene. Of that amount, the three quarters are used in the bathroom, 50 % wasted in the most useless way.

Public awareness about water and energy use is essential to achieve a reduction in water consumption, although the population is already very aware. An example is the city of Benidorm (Alicante, Spain), that consumes almost the same water actually than in 1975 despite the permanent population has been increased four times, and the number of tourists three times in the lasts 35 years. [1]

Another alternative is the use of water pricing as a tool for incentivise the efficient use of water among water users [2]. The implementation of water policies that introduce the environmental and resource cost and the correct definition of water rights are needed to reduce the pressure over water resources (Gómez, 2009).

The Asociación General de Consumidores ASGECO [3] proposed a Decalogue of water use good practices, simple and common sense practices, but important to remind:

1. Turn off the tap properly, since a simple tap that drips wastes more than 90 liters per week. It is recommended to use lever taps with diffusers and other mechanisms for saving.
2. The washing machine and dishwasher should not be used when they are at half load. Choosing high efficiency appliances (ecological and energy-efficient "A" tag), you can save 50% of water and electricity consumption in each wash.
3. Taking a shower instead of a bath saves up to 30,000 liters a year. Also using a low-power shower head further reduce the amount of water used.
4. When shaving, brushing the teeth or washing the dishes, we should not to leave open the tap, because it causes unnecessary expenditure of more than 10,000 liters per year.
5. Do not use the toilet as trash or ashtray. It is advisable to install a tank with dual download and discharge interruption, which would allow to save more than 6 liters in each use.
6. Repair leaks immediately. Ten drops of water per minute suppose 5000 liters of water wasted a year.
7. It is important to wash the vehicles in automatic car washes that are adapted to make efficient use of water.
8. Defrost food at room temperature, and never under the tap, saving 15 liters. Washing fruits and vegetables in a bowl saves 10 liters.
9. Choose native plants for your garden or pots; they are adapted to the local climate. Irrigate at nightfall to avoid loss by evaporation.
10. Educate family and friends so they also follow these simple tips to encourage a sustainable consumption of water.


Every citizen can make a sustainable use of water at home. Local and regional administrations are responsible to implement saving measures in public buildings and institutions, and encourage the sustainable use of water among their employees.

Expected effect of measure on (including literature citations):

  • HYMO (general and specified per HYMO element)
The expected effect is positive for all general HYMO elements, contributing to the recovery of the water table and deep water levels, and watercourses flow. It contributes to maintain the water stocked in aquifers and flowing in the general hydrologic cycle.
  • physico � chemical parameters
  • Biota (general and specified per Biological quality elements)
The same as other measures to increase water flow quantity
BQE Macroinvertebrates Fish Macrophytes Phytoplankton
Effect + ++ + o

Temporal and spatial response

The success of this measure depends on the environmental awareness of the population and the effectiveness of educational campaigns. While the population of semi-arid areas is used to make a responsible use of water, in other regions where droughts are uncommon or water scarcity is not perceived as a problem it might take longer time to reduce water consumption.

Pressures that can be addressed by this measure


The highest cost-efficiency. Reducing the consumption of domestic water reduces also the quantity of waste water, the costs for its treatment and renewal. The costs of household appliances of high water and energy efficiency are each day easier to afford, and the same with saving accessories for the bathroom.

Case studies where this measure has been applied

Useful references

Gómez, C. M. (2009) La eficiencia en la asignación del agua: principios básicos y hechos estilizados en España Información Comercial Española, ICE: Revista de economía, ISSN 0019-977X, Nº 847, 2009 (Ejemplar dedicado a: Economía y medio ambiente), pags. 23-39

Rogers P., R. de Silva and R. Bhatia (2002). Water is an economic good: How to use prices to promote equity, efficiency, and sustainability. Water Policy 4: 1–17

Other relevant information

Proyecto SUD´EAU, 'Gestión Local y Participativa del Agua y los ríos del Sudoeste Europeo' [1]
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