Sunday, January 24, 2010

Water in Orange

Orange (as per Orange Airport weather station) has a long term rainfall avergae of 882 mm a year, last year (2009) we got just 640 mm.  Not the lowest on record - that was 364 mm in 1981.  The year 2009 was highlighted by having some periods of lower than average rainfall and of course all that rain we got at the tail end of a cyclone in the Christmas week.  See the graph below which was generated on the Australia Bureau of Metereolgy's Climate statistics for Australian locations website.

Despite having an average rainfall of close to 900mm per year Orange residents are about to enter tighter level 5 water restrictions (1 hour of bucket watering of established gardens - no lawns - a week).  For a city of close to 40,000 there is not a reliable water supply - Orange is not on a major river and the city relies on water from a range of small local storages which have low water levels.  There are various proposals to pipe water from neighbouring regions or even to treat our effluent water. All residents are being encouraged by council to reduce water consumption.

In response to water shortages in our area and our goal of sustainability we are already trying to reduce our town water supply consumption by:
  1. using rainwater on the vegie garden and in the glasshouse
  2. using the rainwater collected to flush our main toilet and wash clothes - when supplies allow (all of winter and most of summer). 
  3. getting the kids to turn off taps and share their bath
  4. using grey water, such as water collected in the shower, for bucket watering the garden.
Solar powered signs advertising water conservation targets in one of the main carparks in Orange

The local council has set a goal to get Orange residents to 160 litres per day per person. On our last water bill our average water consumption per day for 5 people was 466 litres a day or just 93 litres per person per day, so we are below the targets of our local council which is a good start. What a pleasant suprise - I had never sat down and worked that out.  In the local paper the average town water consumption per person was 171 litres for the third week of January 2010 - so we are nearly down to half the average weekly consumption of town water in Orange!

Even with our current water saving measures in place our town water consumption could be further minimised... but where are we going to be able to make the cuts?  To work out where we use our water we will be running a water usage audit at our house over the next few weeks.  This will help us decide on the best places to further reduce our usage of town water.


  1. One thing I try to do - but very rarely do because I love my shower - is take a navy shower ( OK in summer - but not fun in winter.


  2. Not sure if everyone in the household would warm to this idea.... especially in heart of winter in Orange when we can go for weeks not geting above 10 degrees..