In South East Queensland there are no water restrictions applicable to residential or business. Contrary to some ill-informed social media content there have been no water restrictions since 1 January 2013.
As a result of the current prolonged dry conditions, the inflows into the dams are the lowest in ten years. Currently water grid capacity is under 60%. If there are no major inflows from the rain in the next six months it is likely water restrictions will be introduced in mid-2020.
As a result of water grid capacity continuing to drop Seqwater is encouraging everyone to become more aware of their water usage. Ensuring everyone makes an effort now to reduce their water use can make a big difference in the introduction of water restrictions.
Seqwater continually updates water consumption across the six local water service providers. These updates are interesting comparisons of average daily residential consumption. In the last year, residential consumption on the Gold Coast has increased from 177 litres per person per day to 234 litres.
Some of this increased consumption is attributed to increased watering of gardens and lawns. Having a water wise garden is always a positive way to manage your garden and ensure it flourishes year-round.
Maintaining Your Garden
Having a water wise garden reduces your water usage and allows your garden to stay healthy. Healthy plants are important through all climate conditions. During the current drought, you need to be aware that your plants do reduce stress levels and purify the air.
Your water wise garden is crucial to the environment as all plants contribute to stabilising the ecosystem. Healthy plants all contribute to not only releasing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide they also are a critical part of the water cycle. Your plants also provide birds, insects and small animals with habitats to assist their survival and give them shade.
Maintaining your water wise garden is not a burdensome chore. In fact, the suggestions below should be your normal management techniques to ensuring you have a flourishing water wise garden and lawn year round no matter what climatic conditions we are experiencing.
Water early in the day
Evaporation will occur all year round in South East Queensland so to give your plants a drink early to reduce the evaporation of the water you are giving them.
In summer when the sun rises early we recommend you irrigate your garden and lawn before 6 am. In winter this can be wound back to 8 am.
If you cannot water early then the second choice is to water late. The heat of the day has diminished by 4 pm and can be a relaxing way to end the day by watering your gardens and lawn with a hose.
Be efficient in your watering technique
Whether your watering with a hose or a watering can you need to be efficient and effective. This means you need to water plants deeply and directly on to the root zone area which is at the stem of the plant.
This targeting deep watering technique increases the plant’s water uptake and trains the plant to expect less frequent watering.
Don’t water the foliage
Watering the foliage may make you feel good in seeing water dripping off the leaves but it achieves very little and is a waste of water. The only water needed for a healthy plant is in the root zone.
Watering foliage increases evaporation and assists pests feeding on the foliage. The incidence of plant diseases also increases with constant watering of foliage.
Maintain water levels in your soil
Water crystals or water beads or hydrogel are all water crystals and are a perfect additive to your garden once you have moist soil around your plants.
The water crystals will maintain moisture levels in the root zone around your plants which is where the water is needed. The crystals are small granules made from a water-absorbent polymer. Using them as a soil additive assists your plants to withstand drought conditions as they can expand to six hundred times their size after they come into contact with water. Once expanded they create a water-holding gel that slowly releases water to the plant’s roots.
Choose drought-tolerant plants for your garden
Your water wise garden will thrive when you use plants that are native to your locality. Plants such as most succulent varieties are a good starting point as is philodendron. To get the best advice on the best drought-tolerant plants for your garden we recommend you visit your local specialist nursery who are usually horticultural experts.
Adding a seaweed solution
The perfect health tonic for your plants is the addition of a seaweed solution to your periodic watering schedule. There are many seaweed solutions available which assist your plants to retain water which increases their hydration levels.
Lay mulch in your garden
It’s widely accepted mulching is essential for every garden. Mulching, especially in summer, is vital to reducing evaporation and ensuring your soil remains moist and cool.
Mulch combined with water crystals in the soil increases the soil’s water holding capacity. This combination ensures your water wise garden gets the most out of every drop of water.
Mulch correctly laid and maintained is also the visual finishing touch to your garden.
Install an irrigation system
If you are time-poor installing a drip irrigation system is a perfect solution to maintaining a water wise garden. Drip irrigation is literally what it says in that it allows water to drip slowly into the root zone of plants.
A drip irrigation system can be installed by you if you feel competent in doing so. There are many systems available many of which promote the DIY installation. But remember you always get the quality you pay for so choose carefully.
Drip irrigation systems must be legally connected to your water supply which is where many DIY installations fail with consequences that can be damaging to your family’s health.
If you need expert advice on installing a legally compliant water connection with a timer tap for your garden’s irrigation system then contact us anytime on (07) 5580 4311
Once the footy finals are over we know it’s spring, as the weather warms and evening barbecues become the norm. But for many people, spring is a time to be dreaded. That’s because the advent of spring means its hay fever season for one in five Australians.
Hay fever season comes in stages over the spring and summer. The first stage will be in October/November when windborne pollens of plants and grasses cause allergens. When the pollens become trapped in your nose or eyes, they release their allergens. Fortunately, the pollen allergens are benign, but for one in five of us, our body misreads them as being harmful and fights back. This results in our body producing mucus to expel the pollen allergens.
As the body fights the pollen allergens watery, itchy bloodshot eyes along with a runny nose and sneezing are the most common symptoms of what we refer to as hay fever.
Filtered Water & Hay Fever
As proactive prevention should always be the #1, action you should start with installing a Taqua built-in filtration tap. The filter built into the Taqua tap will remove chlorine and impurities from your tap water. Best of all for hay fever sufferers a Taqua tap is guaranteed to retain the minerals your body needs in your tap water.
Your #2 action in hay fever season should be to drink 800 ml of hot water every day from your Taqua tap. Drinking hot water at 50 ºC assists in easing common hay fever symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose.
This simple action of drinking hot filtered water will make your life more comfortable if you suffer from hay fever plus will assist your general health due to its detoxing effects on the body.
Your #3 action in the hay fever season is to rinse your eyes regularly with cold water to flush out the pollens. Using the filtered cold water from your Taqua tap will ensure that you are not washing chemicals such as chlorine directly into your body.
Filtered Water & Vegetables
We all know that eating fresh fruit and vegetables assists in our overall health, particularly in the hay fever season.
Did you know washing your fresh fruit and vegetables with ordinary tap water loses many of their valuable minerals?
The reason for this mineral loss is due to the free chlorine in ordinary tap water that reacts with the minerals in fruit and vegetables, causing the minerals to break down. In fact, 10% – 30% of all minerals are lost due to washing fruit and vegetables in tap water.
Using a Taqua built-in filtration tap with its veggie spray function is the perfect solution to wash fruit and vegetables to ensure they retain all their vitamins.
Cooking with filtered water from a Taqua built-in filtration tap is a simple way to improve the taste, smell and colour of your food.
Zeroflush waterless urinals installed at Brisbane International Airport
ZeroFlush Waterless urinals supplied and installed by Whywait Plumbing are precisely what they sound like. Instead of using water to flush away the urine, like traditional urinals which waste anywhere up to 25 litres of water every time they flush. ZeroFlush waterless urinals utilise gravity, putting urine through an odour barrier or one-way valve system which eliminates 100% of the water from a conventional flushing process.
Replacing a water flushing urinal with a ZeroFlush waterless model can save an average of 152000 litres annually per urinal. There’s one urinal for every three toilets in non-residential properties, which together account for more than a quarter of Australia’s water consumption.
The supply of water to commercial office buildings, shopping centres, educational facilities and hotels utilises a substantial amount of energy. The simple act of installing ZeroFlush waterless urinals and the disconnection of urinals from a buildings water reticulation system can reduce by 50% a building’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Throughout Australia, water charges continue to increase annually. The advent of sewerage discharge factor charges based on the amount of water consumed is increasing in popularity. These charges alone require reductions in water consumption to avoid substantial annual increases. For commercial property managers, this means they must budget for paying for water coming into the building and also going out via the sewage system. This means the installation of ZeroFlush urinals will not only aid with sustainability but reduce water and energy costs.
The urban myth that waterless urinals are unhygienic and stink is a myth perpetuated by opponents of waterless urinals that has no foundation in fact. A recent study by th
e Shanghai Environment Project Design Institute once again proved that waterless urinals contain five times fewer bacteria than water flushing urinals. Bacteria and germs from water flushing urinals are created by airborne fecal matter that is reproduced when the urinal flushes water. The combination of water moisture with the fecal matter creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and flourish. As waterless urinals don’t flush water every time they have been used the opportunity for bacterial and germ contamination becomes very remote.
The real reason most male bathroom facilities have putrid odours is triggered by the bacteria created from airborne fecal matter and water moisture. Urine by itself has a very soft odour but combined with the water flushing urinals spraying of water particles it can quickly create odours over the entire bathroom facility.
ZeroFlush waterless urinals are a guaranteed path to reducing water and energy consumption plus greenhouse gas emissions in any non-residential commercial building. Installing them will always help water and energy sustainability.
Here at Whywait Plumbing, it gets very frustrating at times when clients want us to install products they have purchased “cheaply” online or bought from non-specialist outlets who import cheap non-compliant product. All products we install are required by law to have a WaterMark certificate and a WELS water rating label certificate. It is illegal for licensed plumbers to install non-compliant products.
WELS Water Rating Label certificates are on every product plumbers install. Unfortunately, many of our clients are confused by the rating requirements which is mainly because there has been little public education and therefore awareness.
In 2005, the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme as a joint initiative of the Australian, State, and Territory governments became law. Under the WELS Water Rating Label scheme, products that use water must be tested under standardised conditions in a laboratory by a government regulator. Each product is given a comparative rating score of between one and six stars to indicate the product’s efficiency. The WELS Water Rating Label certificates or stickers are very similar in appearance to those used for energy rating labels for things like fridges, dishwashers, washing machines, heaters and air conditioning units.
The WELS Water Rating Label scheme was instituted to eliminate and educate on unnecessary water use. The WELS Water Rating Label scheme on current projections is expected to save 800,000 megalitres of water by the year 2021 across Australia. This equates to about a billion dollars of water bill savings. A further little-known benefit of the WELS Water Rating Label scheme is a reduction in greenhouse gases which is estimated to equal to the removal of 90,000 cars from Australian roads every year.
When the plumbers at Whywait raise the issue of WELS Water Rating Label certificates many of our clients ask which products have to have WELS labels? Very simply under the WELS Water Rating Label scheme, the bathroom products that need to be rated in Australia are:
toilets pans, cisterns and urinals
Installing water efficient showerheads in your home’s bathrooms account for 25% of the water savings under the WELS Water Rating Label scheme. This is due to the significant difference in the amount of water used in showers with a standard shower head using between 15-25 litres of water per minute. A 3-star rated shower head only uses 6 or 7 litres per minute which means installing a water-efficient showerhead reduces your water consumption in the shower alone by 40%. Using less water in the shower has the added benefit of reducing your electricity or gas bill as you use about 40%-60% less hot water.
All taps used in kitchen sinks, bathroom basins, bathroom showers and laundry troughs must be WELS rated. However, a bath tap although in all likelihood WELS rated does not require to be flow reduced as you use the same amount of water to fill a bath no matter what. In fact, flow restrictors just mean the bath takes longer to fill. Most mixer taps and many combination tap spouts have an aerator that is combined with a flow restrictor, installed on the spout outlet that mixes the water with air, and in the process can cut the amount of water used from 15-22 litres per minute down to around 3 – 6 litres per minute.
Finally, WELS Water Rating Label scheme requires flushing toilets and urinals to meet a basic level of water efficiency. Waterless urinals are not required to have any form of WELS certification. With regard to toilets, an average flush is calculated as one full flush and four half-flushes. Therefore a compliant toilet suite cannot exceed 5.5 litres per average flush. Water efficient toilets make up a significant amount of the water savings under the WELS scheme with savings of 22% as a traditional toilet used 11 litres per flush compared to water-efficient dual flush toilets that use, on average less than 4 litres per flush. This adds up to savings of 52 litres of water per person, per day, and can add up to $800 less in your water bill over a ten year period.
When choosing plumbing products for your home, it is a good idea to take into consideration the information on the WELS Water Rating Label and the savings you can make over the long term on both water and electricity or gas bills.
The Easter long weekend is only surpassed by the Christmas and new year period as a time when families travel to be together. It is also the start of the hot water season when clients are reminded of the ever-increasing hot water electricity cost.
For the plumbers at Whywait Plumbing, Easter is a busy period with blocked drainsbeing the most common problem followed by hot water problems.
Unlike Christmas, there is always a spike over Easter in emergency calloutsfor faulty hot water units. That is because Easter is generally much cooler than Christmas. Around April, we all suddenly realise that cold weather is on the way. Every year we notice the signs with an increase in emergency service callouts with the problem being no hot water. Even in the relatively mild climate of South-East Queensland no-one willingly wants to have a cold shower.
Frequently we cannot help but shake our head’s at all the stress, the waste of time and money these emergency service calls represent to many homeowners. Sadly many of us do not pay too much attention to the myriad of household and mechanical systems that provide so much comfort and convenience in our modern lives. We take for granted our water heaters, toilets, mixer taps, and air conditioners that is until they stop working. Then come the panicked call and a repair job that always ends up costing more than we expect.
Showers are the activity where we use the most hot water. Generally, 40% of the water consumed in the shower is hot water. This is why there is a strong correlation between the length of a shower and the hot water electricity cost.
If your home is like many in South East Queensland you are producing hot water from an electric hot water service connected to tariff 11 with a shower rose you love because you get a deluge of water from it at 23 litres per minute. If your shower is being utilised four times a day for an average of 5 minutes per shower, then those showers are costing you $1125 a year in electricity costs and $107 in water usage costs.
Essentially 1 kilowatt-hour of electricity is used to produce 15 litres of hot water using an electric element hot water service. With electricity prices expected to increase 21% on 1 July and a further 40% over the next three years, there is considerable scope for reducing your hot water electricity cost.
One option is to change your electricity and water guzzling shower rose to a water efficient shower rose using only 9 litres per minute. Based on the standard example above this would immediately reduce your electricity costs to $440 and water cost to $42. If you are able to change your hot water service from tariff 11 to tariff 33, then you will save an additional 40% on electricity costs.
The best option and the one we recommend is the long-term sustainable option utilising heat pump technology. Heat pump technology involves replacing your old fashioned energy-hungry electric hot water service to the highly efficient Sanden “Eco®” Plus Heat Pump hot water system.
Electricity costs have become a political hot potato, with state and federal governments playing the blame game in blaming each other for the doubling of electricity prices in recent years.
Hot water electricity cost is one area you can reduce your electricity costs substantially by being smart about how you heat your hot water and use it. Hot water generated by electric elements is something we always took for granted. That is until surging electricity price increases made us all take another look at our increasingly energy-intensive lifestyles.
At Whywait Plumbing we have had a number of calls from clients who are concerned they are about to be overrun by small drain flies in their bathroom. Generally the concern is that they are in large numbers and no matter what is done to kill them there is always more the next day.
Cleaning Your Drains Doesn’t Get Rid Of Drain Flies!
Many Whywait Plumbing clients had cleaned the bathroom until it could be cleaned no more. So by a process of elimination, they had decided that they were coming out of one of the drains in the bathroom. Frustratingly no matter how often some clients sat and observed the drains they never saw any of the drain flies emerging from the drain in the shower or basin or the floor waste.
What most people observed was the drain flies flying were mainly sitting on the walls or ceiling in the bathroom. Whywait Plumbing can confirm that what everyone had was what is commonly known as drain flies or bathroom flies.
What Do Drain Flies Look Like
A typical looking drain fly on a bathroom wall
Drain flies are dark grey flies and are 2mm – 4mm in length with hairy moth-like wings. They have a jerky flight as they are poor fliers and usually are found close to the floor waste drain or area of origin. This is why they seldom stray outside the bathroom. In most cases, they are breeding in the bathroom floor waste trap.
Drain flies do not bite and are not known to transmit disease of any sort nor do they damage clothes or linen and are considered to more of a nuisance value in a home.
The adult drain flies and larvae can be controlled by eliminating or reducing breeding sites. If the infestation is minor the pouring of bleach into the floor trap will usually work in killing them. However, if that does not solve the problem then you will need to kill them by thoroughly cleaning the drain lines and or sealing of the floor trap.
The reason that they continually seem to be in large numbers despite constantly killing them is that eggs hatch in 32 to 48 hours when the temperature is above 20 degrees. The larvae mature in 9 -12 days and feed on the decaying organic matter that accumulates in the floor waste trap. The life cycle of drain flies is 1-3 weeks. Adults drain flies live about 2 weeks, with old ones dying and new ones emerging. They feed on the wastewater in the floor waste trap. During the day the adults rest in shaded areas such as under the basin or on walls near plumbing fixtures and on the sides of showers and baths. Most activity occurs during the evening when the flies are seen hovering about.
Septic Tanks Breeders
If you are on acreage and have septic tanks they may breed in large numbers and they may be carried by prevailing wind to nearby homes up to 3 kilometres away. Adult drain flies are small enough to pass through ordinary window mesh screens.
Thorough Cleaning of Drain and Traps
It is the experience of Whywait Plumbing that cleaning of the drains from the basin, shower and bath that discharge into the floor trap is only part of the answer. It is also beneficial to clean the floor trap thoroughly and pour bleach down the drain although this is washed away with each use of any of the fixtures.
DrainPro – The Drain Fly Solution
Gary Mays from Whywait Plumbing has gone through this entire experience at his own home in the ensuite bathroom. Gary Mays also installed a DrainPro unit into the floor waste which prevents not only drain flies but also bacteria, odours and insects from exiting through the drain into the bathroom.
It is 3 years since he installed DrainPro units in all of all bathroom floor traps and they have completely eliminated the annoying tiny flies.