KARL SVATOS is a local environmental scientist. In this week’s THINKING ALLOWED, he says some careful planting around the garden can help preserve our diminishing water supplies and keep the bugs happy.
HOW much money do you spend on water every day? Someone once told me his daughter and their five children were using about 2000 litres per day.
He explained to her it was the equivalent of 1000 2-litre cola bottles in their lounge room.
Think about the cost of all the cola bottles to be filled with water, the cost to make the bottles and then cost to get them into the lounge room and the cost of getting the water into them and the cost of the water. This is water sustainability and efficiency in practice. Minimising the cost by thinking about the end user.
In today’s society people are interested in how they can get more for less. They don’t want to pay for the more part. Unfortunately our geopolitical economic situation favours “more on theory” or rather, “moron theory”.
If in doubt put “more on”. The Water Corporation now realises some of its models and marketing campaigns to use less at home are not working. Unfortunately building more desalination plants isn’t the right answer either.
I was once told about a north-of- Fremantle ratepayer bragging their water use exceeding 20,000 litres per day. Sadly, this is a direct result of the “moron theory” in practice. Based on current models and predictions our clean water surplus will not be enough for future generations. The “build more coal-powered desalination theory” is unfortunately part of this generation’s current thinking.
In relation to your typical Aussie garden, planting a range of native species, which have adapted over millions of years add colour, succulents add variety and many traditional English varieties under shade or eaves or under natives can thrive with much less water if well maintained at the soil water interface. Fremantle has a wide variety of gardens where this is the case.
How we use water on soil is the key. Our soils are alive and contain trillions of bacteria, fungi and insects. These all affect the production of carbon dioxide, nitrogen gas and others. Of particular importance is organic carbon and minerals in the soil. A soil without carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus is difficult to cultivate plants. More importantly soil carbon and nitrogen is related to greenhouse emissions.
Many people believe that it is a store however it can be very volatile and without the correct care can easily be converted into carbon dioxide gas and released which is then a waste to the home owner who has invested in getting it on the soil in the first place.
So how do we best manage our soil, water and soil biology to ensure our plants and thrive without draining the natural and engineered water reservoirs and ancient fast depleting ground water systems? The bottom line is that it needs to be taught in schools, or enforced through the legislation. But maybe everyone is just a moron, let it not be our children too.