Water-Wise Ways to Maintain Your Garden 1

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Water-Wise Ways to Maintain Your Garden

Water-Wise Ways to Maintain Your Garden

Water Restrictions

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.

All council areas in South East Queensland are interconnected via the Seqwater water grid. This ensures the entire region has access to twenty-six dams and the Gold Coast desalination plant for drinking water.

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.

water wise garden from Whywait Plumbing

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.

Water-Wise Ways to Maintain Your Garden 3

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

Gold Coast Council Water Rates to Increase

Gold Coast Council Water Rates to Increase

Gold Coast council water rates are about to increase again. For both homeowners and business owners, this could be a double whammy when you couple this with the increases in power bills in recent years.

The Increases are likely to continue in coming years even though the City of Gold Coast has not increased its portion of your water bill at all for three years. Bulk water charges for the City of Gold Coast are recommended to increase by the Queensland Competition Authority a further $12 a year for the next two years.

The City of Gold Coast has now finalised the 2018-19 budget. Your Gold Coast council water rates charges will not increase on the retail and distribution component of the water and sewerage charges from the last financial year.

However, the significant portion of your water cost which is Queensland Government’s bulk water price will increase in line with the recommendations by the Queensland Competition Authority. The bulk water price will increase by 2.5% from $2.74 per kilolitre to $2.91 per kilolitre.

Contrary to some urban myths City of Gold Coast no longer owns Hinze Dam and the desalination plant. Gold Coast Water buys the water that you use through your meter from Seqwater owned by the Queensland Government. The price paid for the bulk water is itemised in your water bill.

Essentially the bulk water charges levied by the Queensland Government makes up the bulk of your water bill.

These charges are still reflecting the poor planning from 20 years ago that resulted in the multi-billion dollar water grid construction in 2007-08 which resulted in supply pipes connecting all of South-East Queensland being built. To a large extent, the pipe grid was constructed without dams being built and to lesser extent dams constructed without pipes which also resulted in the construction of the seldom-used Tugun desalination plant.

For 2018-19 your Gold Coast council water rates will increase on 1 July for your water and sewerage which will comprise of the following charges:

  • Queensland Government bulk water charge $2.91 per k/L
  • City of Gold Coast distribution           $1.09 per k/L
  • Total water consumption charge    $4.00 per k/L 

The water and sewerage access charges will remain the same as in previous years being:

  • water access charge of $212.08 per year
  • sewerage access charge of $724.12 per year.

Currently, water charges are relatively stable, but significant problems are looming. Long term planning is required to address the issues of aging infrastructure and their maintenance costs which will impact Gold Coast council water rates.

Infrastructure Australia in a major report has predicted water bills will go the way of power bills increasing by at least $50 every year. They predict today’s average annual water bill of $1200 will increase to $2500 within 20 years.

The report correctly says we need to start planning now as our dams are relatively full which gives us the rare opportunity of “….clear thinking and long-term planning to meet our future needs.”

As we all know from the water management supply crisis of 2007-09 South East Queensland can be adversely effected quickly with a combination of natural disasters, poor planning and below average rainfall.

Very simply if we don’t start long-term planning now for planning our future water needs the drastic increases in water bills will cripple family and business budgets in the same way power bills are now.

Give Yourself The Gift of Clean Water By Maintaining Your Rainwater Tanks

Rainwater Tanks…. Maintaining Clean Water

It is now 6 years since the water management crisis in South-East Queensland was at its peak. Rainwater tanks were flavour of the month and were being sold and installed by every man and his dog aided and abetted by generous subsidies from the Queensland Government.

Unfortunately the panic by the Queensland Government at the time and the relaxation of standards with countless shoddy installations is now beginning to bite. This has lead to a situation where government agencies are picking up the pieces of repairing bad policy.

Fortunately there has been some great publications and research undertaken by the Environmental Health Committee, (enHealth) of the Australian Health Protection Committee which has published an excellent publication called “Guidance on Use of Rainwater Tanks” which we advise you to download and read if you have a rainwater tank by clicking here

Rainwater tanks in an urban environment were always going to be an issue with regards to maintenance and the plumbing technicians at Whywait Plumbing Services see this issue constantly:

  • Poorly maintained or completely failed rain water tanks are everywhere
  • Pumps that no longer work are commonplace
  • Leaking rainwater tanks are common place.

Rainwater tank systems are generally low maintenance but they are most definitely not maintenance free. Regular routine maintenance of a rainwater tank is required to maintain the life expectancy of the infrastructure and to ensure compliance under the Public Health Act.

Maintaining your rainwater tank is your responsibility as the property owner. The biggest threat posed is the potential to create a health risk in the tank becoming a breeding site for mosquito’s. All rainwater tanks must be fitted at all times with:

  • inlet strainers that are 1mm or less to prevent mosquito’s entering the tank
  • All overflows must be installed with a high flow flap valve which automatically close and seal when not in use to prevent mosquito’s entering the tank.

The recommended maintenance required plus the routine regularity is listed below:

  •  3 months: remove debris from gutters, downpipes & first flush devices. Check insect screens on rainwater heads & overflow outlets are debris free, intact & in good condition.
  • 6 months: check roof & flashing’s, remove overhanging branches & repair any defects. Check for signs of mosquito’s & larvae plus any evidence of animal, bird or insect access. Check for algal growth & if detected locate & seal light entry point. Check tank, fittings & pump for any leaks or defects & repair.
  • 12 months: check integrity of tank support base, check pumps & solenoid valves along with all plumbing bypass or backup systems & repair as necessary.
  • 24 months: check level of sediment in tank along with water quality. Generally accumulated sediment should be removed from the tank at intervals not exceeding 3 years.

If you are no longer using your rainwater tank then you are required to cut it up and remove it from site. It cannot be allowed to become a mosquito breeding site or a home for vermin such as rats or mice.

Finally a word of warning. Many property owners are unaware that in Queensland that if you fail to maintain your rainwater tank in a constant status of it being mosquito proof you can receive an on the spot fine of $320.

For more information on storing water please call us at Whywait Plumbing Services today.

By Gary Mays

Food Allergies? Pesticides In Tap Water Might Be To Blame

Food allergies are on the rise, estimated to be affecting at least 250,000 Australian’s. According to a new study published in the United States in the December issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), pesticides and tap water could be partially to blame.

This authorative study reported that high levels of dichlorophenols, a chemical used in pesticides and to chlorinate water, when found in the human body, are associated with food allergies. “Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy,” said allergist Elina Jerschow, M.D., M.Sc., ACAAI fellow and lead study author. “This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as tap water.”

In the United States where 10,348 participants in a US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2,548 had dichlorophenols measured in their urine and 2,211 were included into the study. Food allergy was found in 411 of these participants, while 1,016 had an environmental allergy. “Previous studies have shown that both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States,” said Dr. Jerschow. “The results of our study suggest these two trends might be linked, and that increased use of pesticides and other chemicals is associated with a higher prevalence of food allergies.”

It is generally accepted that similar results would be seen within the Australian population where water is treated in a similar manner and similar pesticides are utilised by farmers. To reduce the likelihood of developing an allergy the options are:

  • drink bottled or filtered water
  • purchase natural or organically grown fruit and vegetables

Whilst opting for bottled water instead of tap water might seem to be a way to reduce the risk for developing an allergy this is not the whole answer. More often than not bottled water is not a solution it is a problem because it is estimated about 40 percent of bottled water is in fact regular tap water.

Australians spend over $500 million every year buying bottled water. Potable drinking water from Gold Coast City Council costs $3.27 a kilolitre. Bottled water here is 1070 times more expensive than the water Gold Coast City Council pipes directly to your home. Australian bottled water costs around $3500 a kilolitre and Italian bottled water around $9600 a kilolitre.

The only solution with respect to water is installing a whole of house water filtration system because  Gold Coast City Council potable drinking water distribution pipe line systems contain bacteria killing chlorine.  The intent is simply to provide you with bacteria-free water. Unfortunately, they’re doing more than that because every time you consume tap water from the Gold Coast City Council distribution system you are ingesting a measure of chlorine. Every time you shower or bathe in tap water you are ingesting the free chlorine gas in the water supply.   The telltale signs of unacceptably high levels of chlorine?  Dry flaky skin, and the odour you often detect in your shower, bath, or drinking water.

Chlorine does not kill all the bacteria in the water supply pipelines as scale still builds up inside the pipes requiring the council to regularly clean them. Far worse, chlorine is a chemical and a poison.  Once ingested, it randomly targets what it kills off in your body.  Simply put, chlorine kills all bacteria…good and bad.  It can kill off the natural flora in your stomach. It can negatively affect your digestion. It can build up in fat deposits.  It can settle in your arteries and lead to heart disease.  What’s more, chlorine can cause bladder cancer as the human body is not designed to filter out chlorine.  And yet for the foreseeable future, it will remain in the Gold Coast City Council potable water distribution pipe line systems.

To take control of an important area of managing your own health by purifying your water supply Whywait Plumbing strongly recommend the installation of whole of house water filtration systems to remove one major threat of developing an allergy.

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