Waterwise on the Farm (Version 2)

Step 2: Carry out an inventory of the water you use

2006 NFU water survey

Early results from the NFU 2006 water survey suggest that the cost of water is higher than many people would think. Even when a mains supply is not being used, costs of pumping and possible treatment (where needed) as well as disposal costs means that the average cost of water is actually close to the cost of mains water supply.

Once you have found out how much water you use and how much it costs, the next step is to find out where you use it.

Forms 2a and 2b (pages 28 and 29) will help you to review how much water your equipment and animals use. We give examples of the kinds of calculations you may need to make.

Examine how you use water

When you have completed Forms 2a and 2b, you can now examine how you use water. Do you need to:

  • use water for that activity? Could you use ‘dryclean’ methods, such as scraping or brushing before (or instead of) washing down yards and pens?
  • use as much as you do? Are hoses or taps left running? Are dripping taps fixed quickly?
  • use high quality water for that activity? Consider collecting rain and used water for washing down yards. Check whether any hygiene or farm assurance requirements need water of a certain quality to be used.

Top tip: measuring the water you use

If you need to estimate the amount of water that a piece of equipment uses or a recycling system saves, all you need is a stopwatch and a container of a known volume. Carefully disconnect the outflow pipe and place the container to catch the outflow. You can then time how long it takes for the container to fill. This gives you the flow rate in litres per second (or other appropriate units) for that piece of equipment. You will then need to multiply this to give you a use per year by working out how often the equipment is used.

Map where you use water

A map of the water network will help you pinpoint sources, uses, any potential areas of wastage and where you could collect rainwater. This map should show the location of all water uses, pipes, water troughs, taps, shut-off valves and stopcocks. You should also identify the sources of both clean and dirty water draining into the dirty-water system.

Clean water sources, such as roof water and run-off from clean yards, may be contributing to the volume of dirty water you produce. This could be increasing your costs and the risk of running out of storage capacity. This could force you to land spread at times of high risk, which would increase the risk of diffuse pollution. Consider whether you could divert this water from the  system and possibly collect and re-use it.

Remember that while you may save money by changing from mains supply to a borehole, you are not saving water or being more water efficient, but merely using a different source of water.

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