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CLASSWORK
price make up | household energy audit | household water audit | school waste audit


HOUSEHOLD WATER AUDIT

keywords: water consumption| unequal access | water wastage | saving water | environmental impact | socio-economic impact

household water audit
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courtesy, Bardelli (Italy), UNESCO

goal: raising awareness about the (voluntary and involuntary) households’ water wastage and its economic, social, and environmental consequences; stimulating water saving behaviours; understanding differences in water access and consumption worldwide.

risk: in industrialised countries, tap water is often perceived as a cheap and limitless resource. More in general, water scarcity, desertification, oceans and rivers pollution, etc. are perceived as global and quite complex issues, where individual responsibility counts very little. Focus this activity trying to demonstrate how false these feelings are and how important are our daily habits in preserving our most precious resource.

YXC level: 2nd level (first community), 3rd level (community at large)

YXC materials: pay the right price | Water Warriors | looking ahead | Approtec | facts & figures/ENVIRONMENT | Clean Water | Saving Water | Acid Rain | Hydropower | Wetlands | Global Warming | facts & figures, GENERAL DATA | Global Population | Urbanisation | facts & figures, OTHERS NEEDS | Tourism/Environmental Impact | department store | Eco Wall Boilers | Eco Washing Machine | Water Desk Set | Desertification Kit | job opportunities | Wateraid | Ecovillages | Anti Pesticides Network | test & play | Water Is Basic | A Changing Climate | Global Warming? | links | Enviromental Education | environment/Water |

subject areas: Economics & biz | Science & tech. | Health & well-being | Social studies | Workshops

work planning: Phase 1, testing students knowledge of the issue; Phase 2, intro to the issue; Phase 3, homework; Phase 4, class work, monitoring & reporting; Phase 5, taking action.

testing student knowledge (with key questions):

GENERAL QUESTIONS

bullet Do you think access to safe water is a human right? bullet Should countries having conspicuous water resources share them with those lacking it? bullet In your opinion, which are the first three countries that have the largest per capita water consumption rate in the world? bullet Do you think water wastage in some countries is the only (or the main) reason why they lack it? bullet In your area, do all citizens (households, schools, offices, hospitals, factories, etc.) have access to clean water? If not, how do they manage their water needs?

WATER/HOUSEHOLDS QUESTIONS:

bullet At home, what do you need water for? Please complete the following list of actions and order by importance (from the most to the less water consuming one): a) taking a shower, b) taking a bath, c) brushing teeth, d) preparing meals, e) washing dishes, f) cleaning clothes, g) gardening, h) housekeeping, i) flushing toilets... bullet Which household’s item consume the greatest amount of water? bullet Do you think water is well managed or wasted at you place? And what about your neighbourhoods? bullet In general, do you pay attention in saving water? How? Please make a list of the most important measures to be taken.

intro to the topic (background): water is our most precious natural resource. We are even made of water: 70% of our body is water. Moreover, we drink it, we wash ourselves and our dishes with it, we clean our cars and homes with it. If we’re lucky enough, we fill our swimming pools with it. Water is vital to the survival of all living organisms. Food crops won’t grow without it.

To ensure our basic needs, we all need 20 to 50 litres of water free from harmful contaminants each and every day. If we waste water, someday we may run short. The way we use water in our homes and gardens, in commerce and industry and in agriculture, has a direct impact on the environment: pollution. desertification, erosion, salinity are just some of the consequences of climate change due also to an irresponsible water consumption. That’s why it’ s important to conserve water.

We need to change our attitudes about water and water conservation. We can save a lot of water just by the way we do things. It’s easy once we know how. We just need to practice some basic rules of conservation:

  • Reduce - It's surprising how much water gets wasted. Become conscious of the amount of water you're using and look for ways to use less whenever you can.
  • Repair - A leak of one drop per second wastes 10.000 litres of water a year. Most leaks are simple to find and easily to be fixed up.
  • Replace - Change your older, less water efficient appliance with one of the many water saving devices now on the market.
WATER ACCESS - Unfortunately, water is not available to everybody in the world. 1.5 billion is the estimated number of people worldwide who lacks access to clean drinking water. Moreover, the water consumption changes a lot from developed to developing countries: in 2001, world average water use was about 650 cubic meters/person ranging from around 1,900 cubic meters/person in North America to around 250 cubic meters in Africa.

did you know?
  • High income countries used about 1,000 cubic meters per person, twice as much as middle and low income countries, on average. A child born in the developed world consumes 30 to 50 times as much water resources as one in the developing world;
  • both developed and developing countries waste water. In the first case it’s especially because of carelessness in using water for daily needs (home appliances, gardening, washing and so on); in the second case it’s because of infrastructure damages, old, inefficient and poorly maintained systems;
  • changes to the earth's climate have a direct effect on the global hydrological cycle and hence on water… In Africa’s large catchment basins of Niger, Lake Chad and Senegal, total available water has decreased by 40-60%. Desertification has been exacerbated by lower average annual rainfall, runoff and soil moisture, especially in southern, northern and western Africa.
methodological suggestions:
  • gathering information: to develop this activity students could be asked to make a list of their household daily water use. Room by room, item by item they will find out how much water they use, where it goes and how they can conserve it. The list might include taking showers, boiling kettles, brushing teeth, washing clothes and dishes, flushing toilets and so on. It could also include indirect uses (in bottled drinks, food, manufacturing processes).
  • comparing and sharing data: hold a class discussion to compare data. Do they think water is used responsibly at their place? Do they have leaky faucets? Do their toilet leak? Do they use old, water consuming appliances? Do they believe saving water is also saving money? What could be the hidden costs - environmental and social - of irresponsible water use? What kind of measures are they planning to take to reduce water consumption?
results assessment: the success of this pedagogical module on water saving can be measured by the following results:
  • informative goals: students know about voluntary and involuntary water wastage in their households; understand differences in water use around the world and develop a critical thinking on the inequities in water access between developed and developing countries;
  • action goals: 1) students ask their parents to verify home appliances, to check the water meter and bill to track their household’s average usage and compare it every month; 2) they adopt water saving habits and work to push other people switching to more responsible water consumption patterns.

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