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water real lead.jpgWater availability in Pakistan was estimated at 1,700 cubic metres per capita in 1992; by 2003, it had fallen to 1,200 cubic metres per capita. A further decline to 850 cubic metres per capita is expected by 2020, which is why Pakistan is considered to be a ‘water scarce’ country by environmental experts.

In light of this, it is important to implement water conservation methods in residential and commercial buildings, during and after the construction phase.

Here are some water saving techniques that can be employed:

1. Install water heaters close to the kitchen and bathrooms where water is used most frequently. Restrooms and kitchens should be located nearby to reduce the length of water pipes; this will ensure that water wastage is further minimised.

2. ‘Grey’ water (which is collected from all plumbing fixtures except toilet tanks) should be collected in a separate tank and be reused in toilet tanks and for watering lawns.

3. Harvest rainwater by channelling it from the roof and slopes into a separate underground tank through a filtering system. An inch of rainwater falling on a roof measuring 1,000 square feet can collect more than 2,270 litres of water which then can be used to serve a variety of purposes.

4. When installing bathroom fixtures, opt for low-flow showerheads, sinks with pedals to turn water on and off, water restrictors in faucets, and dual flush toilets; these will decrease water consumption by 30 to 50%.

5. When planning your lawn, ‘xeriscape’. This process involves planting drought-resistant varieties such as acacia trees, cacti and yuccas which require minimal amounts of water to survive.

6. Install a drip irrigation system in your lawn; this is an effective way to save water. This system consists of a network of flexible pipes that are placed under the soil. The pipes provide water to the plants at a specified frequency, and substantially reduce water usage because the water does not evaporate due to exposure to sunlight and nourishes the roots directly.

– M Afzal Ebrahim

The writer is an architect and HEC Foreign Faculty Professor, Department of Architecture & Design at Comsats Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad.

First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 14, 2013.