Weird and wonderful water-saving projects from around the world
Talk about thinking outside the box... the folks that dreamt up these water conservation ideas really thought outside the bucket!
At first glance these techniques and technologies may seem bizarre, yet more widely applied they could save billions of litres of fresh water. Let’s take a closer look – and also remind ourselves of what we can be doing to conserve water at home…
‘Fog catchers’ harvest water for vodka in California
Who knew you could catch fog? Spread a giant net in the air during thick fog and water vapour will collect on the strands. Be patient and you’ll start to see liquid water dripping down the fabric and into a ‘gutter’, and from there flowing down into a large bottle.
Potty training pigs in Taiwan
One of the major headaches for large scale factory farmers is how to deal with the vast amount of poo generated by the animals – the billion pigs farmed globally poop hundreds of tonnes per second! Without prompt and careful handling, the horrible stuff runs off the land into nearby waterways, killing wildlife and poisoning local water supplies.
But did you know that porkers can be toilet trained in much the same way as dogs and cats? When farmers in Taiwan started encouraging their pigs to ‘go’ in specially created piggy toilet areas, cleaner pens and more efficient poop-a-scooping resulted in healthier hogs and sows, a 20% jump in the fertility rate and reduced the Taiwanese farms’ associated water pollution by 80%!
Inspired? Three ways to stop waste water causing trouble downstream:
1. Store and recycle your used cooking oil and fat. Don’t pour it down the sink!
2. Switch to eco-friendly washing up liquid, dishwasher detergent and laundry liquid.
3. Flush nothing down the loo except paper, pee and poo.
‘Shuttlecock’ robot detects underground leaks in Mexico
For water companies, figuring out that the mains system has sprung a leak is simple. Even a child can see that if you put an amount of water into one end of a pipe and only half of it comes out the other end then the other half must have leaked somehow. The difficulty lies in locating small leaks in miles and miles of underground pipework.
That’s where a clever little robot called PipeGuard jets in! Developed by engineers at MIT, the shuttlecock-shaped swimming drone can detect even tiny leaks by sensing variations of pressure within the pipe using its smart ‘skirt’. As the bendy bot scoots through the pipes, an automatically generated map shows the water company exactly where to dig!
Water distribution systems around the world currently lose an average of 20% of their supply to leaks, so PipeGuard better get swimming!
How to tell if your house has a hidden water leak:
Got access to your water meter? Switch off all of your taps and water-using appliances then make a note of the numbers on the meter’s dial. Wait ten minutes, then check the meter again. If the reading has increased, you have a leak somewhere and it's time to get a plumber in!