Brisbane's water supply dams are now at 18.62% capacity, and it's the start of winter when substantial rains are virtually unheard of until spring. Looking at the graph at that link, it would seem very likely that we will hit 10% before the end of the year. No one knows how the water quality is going to be as it gets lower. Already, if I leave the kid's bath water in the tub overnight (before pouring it down a grey water hose that is hanging out the window to a big tub below, for later bucketing over the garden,) there is a very brown residue left on the bath which never used to be there.
The government is aiming for an average daily consumption of 140 litres per person. My family is close to that, but none the less it does feel as if the city is on the verge of crisis, with many substantial sized garden plants dying all over the place, so one does feel the need to do more. We had a rainwater tank installed in January. It has not had more than about 15 cm of water in the bottom since then.
If the letters to the Courier Mail are anything to go by, many people are starting to take pride in how little water they can get away with using in a day.
Here's my boast. I think that even "low flow" shower heads use up to 9 litres of water a minute. They are urging people to limit showers to 4 minutes, so that's about 36 litres all up. But that doesn't count the litres wasted while waiting for the hot water to reach the shower, and this is an unavoidable problem in winter. I have used a bucket to check this, and it takes about 5-6 litres in my house to get the temperature right.
(You can save the cold water in a bucket for the garden, but frankly, we are finding that the greywater from the Top Loading Washing Machine That Refuses to Die and kid's bath is enough for keeping the garden alive.)
My solution is to adopt Japanese style bathing in the shower recess. This involves a 10 litre round plastic basin, a smaller bowl as a ladle, a plastic stool and a sponge, costing around $12 in total from Big W.
Typical Japanese bathing, either in the house or a public onsen, is done while sitting on a little stool and either using a little hand held shower or ladling water over the body. The bathrooms are designed as areas able to get completely wet, with drains in the floor. There are some good photos of a typical Japanese apartment bathroom here. In Brisbane, I have to do it in the shower recess, but I find I can fit in OK.
The advantages: in my house, for the first 10 litre basin fill, the combination of the first 4 litres of cold water and the next 6 of scalding water works out just right. You can stay clothed while this is done. Ten litres is plenty for the body. I then use another 10 litres for hair and final body rinse, and really I find that plenty. There is no water wastage at all. The only disadvantage: no nice steamy bathroom in which to dry yourself.
Anyway, I know that I am definitely using only 20 litres per day for bathing.
Send me a medal, someone?