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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

Baking Soda and Vinegar Will Not Clear Your Blocked Drain

Baking Soda and Vinegar Will Not Clear Your Blocked Drain

Sorry to disappoint you but I guarantee that mixing baking soda and vinegar will not clear your blocked drain. What I can guarantee is that you will create a lovely fizzy, bubbling concoction that will fascinate your kids and nothing else.

When you mix vinegar into baking soda, you create a bubbling chemical reaction that produces:

  • a small amount of sodium acetate which is a salt and also known as hot ice
  • ordinary H2O or water

What is not created is a magical chemical that will clear any form of blockage in your drains. I realise this is contrary to the popular urban myths spun by well-intentioned DIY gurus.

Baking Soda & Vinegar Will Not Break Down Buildups of Grease, Fats Oils & Hair

Baking soda and vinegar will not clear your blocked drain because it will not break down the buildups of grease, fats, oils or hair. To break them down so that they run away in water, you require a combination of heat and a surfactant.

In reality, if you have a slow draining shower, basin or sink drain, then don’t waste money on chemical solutions, use salt and hot water. All you need to do is pour half a cup of salt into the drain followed up by slowly pouring a couple of litres of water heated to just before boiling.

You may need to repeat this a few times, but it works by melting some of the grease and fat buildups. This is aided by the natural abrasiveness of the salt which acts as a scouring agent to force more of the grease and fat to flow with the water.

We use an enzyme product when we are clearing trade waste drains and grease traps. We can provide you with it also to ensure your internal waste pipes on the shower, basin or sink don’t clog up with grease, fats, soap or hair. Enzyme solutions need to be used regularly generally overnight, but they do work to keep your drains free from organic buildups. Best of all, by breaking down organic matter, they eliminate odour issues.

Simply baking soda and vinegar will not clear your blocked drain no matter how much you pour it down the drain. You will waste money on buying the baking soda and vinegar to create a lovely effervescence with lots of bubbles and fizzing.

You will waste money on buying the baking soda and vinegar to create a lovely effervescence with lots of bubbles and fizzing.

It is my experience that no chemical drain cleaner really clears drains in the long term. You may fluke a short term solution, but the only way to clear a drain properly is by mechanical means. I realise this means calling us on (07) 5580 4311 and spending money, but it works. The reality is we provide a permanent long term solution using our high-pressure jet rodding equipment that blasts away built-up grease, oil and fats.

Using DIY solutions only delays the inevitable, so why waste money on them and risk damaging your drains or having sewage overflow into your home.

How long does a bathroom renovation take?

How long does a bathroom renovation take?

Television renovation shows are not reality when it comes to a bathroom renovation. Sadly that’s the benchmark too many people use when they call us to discuss a bathroom renovation. We always know when a client phones and asks “how long does a bathroom renovation take” that they will have unreal expectations.bathroom renovation by Whywait Plumbing

The reality is that a well-planned bathroom renovation will take at least 4-6 weeks. A poorly planned bathroom renovation takes forever and is the most frustrating experience for everyone.

Your bathroom is one of the most expensive rooms to renovate and will need to last you at least ten years. What is hugely fashionable today will not be in two years.

A bathroom renovation is never straightforward and is all about planning, planning and more planning.

Get A Professional Design

There is a multitude of online tools that make designing a bathroom look easy. The reality is that doing your own design can be a false economy.

Getting the floor plan design right from the beginning is your number one priority. I guarantee it will save you money in the long term. A professional bathroom designer will ensure you get what you want. Everyone else involved with the bathroom renovation will be able to give you precise costings based on the design plans.

Remember it’s your bathroom so don’t be intimidated by a bathroom designer. Work with their suggestions and opinions to get the bathroom you want.

Relocating Plumbing is Expensive

bathroom renovation relocation of plumbing by Whywait Plumbing

relocation of plumbing starts with exploration to discover where the drains are hidden in walls

If you have a concrete slab, then relocating water pipes and drains is expensive. If you have a wooden floor and can get under the house, the relocation of your plumbing is much simpler.

In our experience, the unnecessary relocation of drains frequently causes budget blowouts. Utilising your existing plumbing layout will significantly reduce the cost of your bathroom renovation.

Even marginal changes can cause a budget blowout because the plumbing located in the concrete slab can be vastly different once we start exposing it.

As I said, a wooden floor where there is access to the plumbing underneath is a vastly different proposition because all of the plumbing is visible. This gives you much more scope in your bathroom renovation to rearrange the layout of your fixtures.

Draw Up a Specification

a bathroom renovation involves demolishing the existing bathroom by Whywait Plumbing

demolishing your existing bathroom creates a mess very fast

A precise specification of what you want in your bathroom renovation will save everyone a lot of heartache and frustration once work begins.

Project managing your bathroom renovation is not hard providing you have clear floor design plans and precise, unambiguous specifications.

Checklists are a must for your budget peace of mind for the tiler, electrician, plumber, plasterer and painter. This ensures everyone knows what their tasks are and where they stand from the beginning.

If it’s not written down, then you can guarantee you will get a continuous flow of variations that will blow your budget to pieces.

Avoid Reusing Parts of Your Existing Bathroom

The best way to renovate a bathroom is to strip everything back to the bare floor and framework. Keeping parts of your existing bathroom defeats the purpose of having a brand new bathroom.

We frequently see clients keeping the existing ceiling, but it saves very little and is frustrating working around it to install new lighting and extraction fans.

Reusing bathroom fixtures such as the mixer taps or toilet suite or bath save little as it means we have to remove them, clean them up and reinstall them carefully. All you are saving on is the cost of the fixture, which these days is often marginal.

Use Quality Fixtures and Fittings

luxury bathroom renovation by Whywait Plumbing

Opting for cheap no brand plumbing fixtures will lead to future maintenance problems. Frequently if there is no manufacturers brand name visible, then the plumbing fixtures are a poor quality that will not last past a couple of years.

There are plenty of quality taps and toilets that will not squeeze your budget. Avoid fashionable colours in taps as in my opinion chrome never goes out of fashion and always cleans up well.

Investing in good quality custom built vanity cabinets will give you much more value and aid the functionality of the bathroom. Investing in a quality frameless shower screen will again support the functionality of the bathroom.

Planning is the Answer

As I said, previously, the key to a bathroom renovation is about the preparation. A well-planned bathroom renovation with precise specifications ensures that the work requirements are clear and everyone will happily fulfil their obligations.

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.

Plumbing Innovations are Disruptive Innovation

Plumbing Innovations are Disruptive Innovation

Plumbing innovations have always been the norm in the plumbing industry. Innovation is change and is always about better ways of doing the same thing.

When I started my apprenticeship the clearing of a blocked drain started using a plunger and was at least a two-man job using 1m long drainage rods. The rods were screwed together and manually pushed slowly down the drain until we hit the blockage. Clearing drains this way frequently took 3-4 hours.

Plumbing innovations mean that we now clear a blocked drain with state of the art high-pressure jetrodding technology that was unknown 20 years ago.

Innovation is always about change, but at Whywait Plumbing we have always been at the forefront of plumbing innovations. We have always lead change as Gold Coast plumbers from the purchase of our first high-pressure water jetting unit in 1992 or installing vehicle tracking systems or introducing guaranteed upfront pricing in 1999.

What we always considered was developing and improving our way of solving your plumbing problems is now referred to as disruptive innovation. I agree disruptive innovation is the new term in business in the 21st century. But it’s not new it’s just a new way of talking about improving our methods and practices using the latest technology.

Change is the norm, but it just appears to be frantic to an outside observer with online banking, online shopping, online flight bookings and so the list goes on. At least with plumbing, it can’t be done online except for those DIY enthusiasts who believe Google Plumbing has all the answers.

The level of disruption through plumbing innovations has impacted all plumbing installation and maintenance has been significant starting with:

  • Increasing use of prefabrication of bathroom and kitchen modules off-site where the plumbing is all undertaken in a factory, transported to the site and connected up to a water and drainage connection.
  • Continual advances in sustainability with the advent of low flow toilets, low flow taps, waterless urinals and recirculated hot water.
  • Advances in energy efficient products with heat pump hot water units, solar hot water, instant hot water and underfloor heating.
  • All of the different materials we now use in the pipework, relining of existing pipework, CCTV cameras to inspect pipes and pipe jointing methods where welding is now obsolete.
  • Excavation methods with advanced technologies in hydro excavation and tracking and locating of underground services.

The ongoing changes in technology in the plumbing industry are disruptive if not embraced. I agree that plumbing innovations cause a significant difference in how we undertake to solve plumbing problems and how the plumbers at Whywait work now.

Ultimately plumbing continues to be about protecting the health and safety of the community for now and the future to ensure we have good quality water and sewer systems in our buildings.

It’s A Fact ZeroFlush Waterless Urinals Save More Water Than Money

It’s A Fact ZeroFlush Waterless Urinals Save More Water Than Money

ZeroFlush waterless urinals are an increasingly widespread investment being made by architects, hydraulic engineers, facilities managers and building owners throughout Australia because they help conserve water.

Here at Whywait Plumbing, we concur that there are conflicting arguments about the amount of money they save. ZeroFlush waterless urinals do operate without flushing any water, so they will always save water first and foremost. But when making a case for their installation and the investment in maintaining and operating them the best evidence is they are environmentally and sustainably superior to every water flushing urinal.

Installation of ZeroFlush waterless urinals as a corporate responsibility effort should always be a consideration, but here at Whywait Plumbing our experience with ZeroFlush enables us to give you a performance guarantee.

On current Gold Coast Water charges we can guarantee installation of ZeroFlush waterless urinals will reduce your water and sewer discharge costs.

Contact us at Whywait Plumbing now to discuss how you can benefit by installing ZeroFlush waterless urinals as we can guarantee the following:

  • the reduced capital cost to install as no expensive electronic water flushing systems are required
  • reduced maintenance costs with no water reticulation valves to maintain
  • simple and easy cleaning procedures with our natural enzyme cleaning products
  • reduction in blocked drains and drainage traps
  • all products used in the manufacture and maintenance of ZeroFlush waterless urinals are environmentally sustainable

Determining exactly how much water a ZeroFlush waterless urinal keeps from the Gold Coast Water sewer system is somewhat complicated. The number depends on a variety of arguable variables, such as the amount of water that a water flushing urinal would use, the number of people using the urinal and how often those people will use it.

A single water flushing urinal can use anywhere from 50,000 litres to 180,000 litres of water every year. Once again this is based on multiple variables such as the size of the building, the number of male employees and how many times they use the urinal each day. A building such as a factory with one bathroom facility, three ZeroFlush waterless urinals and 120 male employees, would save approximately 900,000 litres of water each year.

Calculating the payback period for installing ZeroFlush waterless urinals can be a complicated process. Using the average of $9 per 1,000 litres of water from Gold Coast Water and the example of an office with four men working in it, we can come up with some estimates.

Let’s say each man flushes a urinal 2,000 times per year or about 5.5 times per day, meaning that the four men flush the toilet 4,000 times a year in the office. With an older, water flushing urinal using 15 litres per flush will use 60.000 litres, costing about $540 every year just for water.

Ultimately, ZeroFlush waterless urinals save more water than money, but we guarantee that they are still worth the investment in sustainability.

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