Owners Corporation – Water Saving Tips & Ideas
A vast number of owners will be completely surprised to learn that they do not pay for the water that is used in their strata unit or townhouse. If your strata plan is located between Katoomba to the West to Bondi Beach to the East or from Mona Vale to the North to Kiama to the South unless your scheme was registered after 2014 it is the Owners Corporation that pays.
It was only late 2014 that individual cold water meters for new apartments were mandated. Until then only one master water meter was in place for the entire building.
That cannot be correct I hear you say, we receive a quarterly bill from Sydney Water – While an owner receives a water bill it is not for the actual water usage. It is a fixed fee for the provision of water, stormwater & sewerage services. It is NOT for the consumption.
It is the owners’ corporation that receives and pays the quarterly bill for all water consumed in the complex. It is a budgeted regular item and is paid from the administrative fund. It also means that as owners you collectively are all paying for water consumption but not based on usage but on unit entitlement through your levies. That means that while you may use less water personally then another Lot bit have a higher Unit Entitlement you are subsidising other owners.
If you have tenants they do not see the water bills and are not paying for any excess usage. This means many tenanted apartments never report a leaking shower, toilet or tap.
So let’s consider where the average amount of water usage is used.
While it is the responsibility of the owners corporation to pay for common property water consumption, studies have shown that over 85% of the actual water consumption is not common property water but in fact private use from inside a Lot. In fact, more than half of a building’s total consumption emanates from Showers.
Toilets – Leaks
Now consider that a simple leaking toilet can waste over 16,000 litres of water a year. If you then consider that the average Strata plan is 50 % tenanted and an average of 2 toilets per apartments. As tenants are not responsible for the water usage they seldom report a leaking toilet. That a lot of money that the owner’s corporation is wasting. If the leaks are not fixed the cost, just keeps on going.
Toilets – Flushing
Older model toilets can use up to 12 litres of water per flush, whereas dual-flush toilets use only 3 litres on a half-flush.
Example of savings
Owners Corporation of 20 apartments with a mix of size apartments – let’s say 30 toilets.
30 (toilets) X 3 (flushes) x 12 (litres) X 365 (year) = 394,200 litres
30 (toilets) X 3 (flushes) x 3 (litres) X 365 (year) = 98,550 litres
Installing water efficient toilets can save the owners corporation money each time the toilet is flushed. Money not going down the drain.
As mentioned if 50% of the water usage is from showers then we need to look at how we can save on shower usage. Naturally the simplest answer is to take shorter showers. That is not always the answer.
You can install a flow controller which simply attaches to your existing shower head. This simply device can reduce the amount of water flow. An alternative is to install a save every drop paddle. This allows you to PAUSE the shower, it quickly switches the water flow on and off while soaping or one person getting in or out. One flick and the water is paused, flick it again and the same pressure and temperature continues.
Heating water in fact costs more than the water itself. Just pausing a hot shower for just 2 minutes per shower will save over 18,000 litres per annum. That is a lot of hot water and electricity usage- it is estimated to save a little over $320 pa in heating costs alone, If every apartment installed one the owners corporation could reduce its expenses by thousands pa.
There are many simple ways to save water. Water efficiency requires both smart behaviours and technology. The strata committee owes it to the owners corporation to investigate ways to reduce the ever increasing costs of strata living.
Can the owner corporation demand that an owner install any of these devices –