The downpour started at 3.30 am today. Although it was loud enough to wake us up we didn’t complain. This rain delivered 23.5 mls in less than an hour. The last time we experienced anything close to this amount was on the 6th of July 2014 when our rain gage read 21 mls.
Here is the rain gage we use for our record-keeping
Stephen is the keeper of rainfall records on our property. He notes daily amounts, monthly totals, number of rain days and keeps a running total for the year. Before this morning’s downpour the running total for 2015 was 35.6 mls. This includes a total of 30.8mls over 6 days in January, zero rain in February and 4.8 mls over 4 days in March. Over the years these records have shown a consistent downward trend in the overall average rainfall.
The South Australian Bureau of Meteorology also reports the state-wide average rainfall last month was 87% below the historical average, resulting in the driest March for South Australia since 2005, with several sites across the state having their lowest total March rainfall in 20 years .
Although water security appears to be looming as one of the biggest issues in the coming years, we continue to squander this most valuable resource. According to the City of Holdfast Bay – Eco City Plan 2012-15, Adelaide and its surrounds use around 200GL (or 480 000 Olympic swimming pools) of mains water each year with approximately 63 percent of this being used in homes or gardens. Check out this chart from SA Water for daily average water use in our region. How does it compare to your region’s and your household’s water use?
Fortunately, there are many ways we can improve our household’s and State’s water security and the most important one of these is to simply use less water. There are many useful tips on how to do this in ‘Cultivate water saving habits’. Installing and using rain water tanks is an additional option for homeowners. This is what we did a few years ago.
Back in July 2011, we added two rainwater tanks to our back yard. Their combined capacity is 20,000 litres. They are connected to each other and the water is pumped to the house via a small electrical pump which sits in the shed. The overflow water goes to the fruit trees and all outlets are mosquito-proof. We are still very frugal with our water use although for much of the year we don’t use mains water. The chart below shows the changes to our use of mains water.
Thanks to implementing water saving measures our water use was already way below the average for our region before installing the tanks. For us one of the main advantages of harvesting rain water was to reduce our dependence on the town supply and improve our household’s water security. Thanks to this early morning’s downpour the volume of water in the tanks has doubled overnight, the garden soil is soaked and it’s the perfect time to plant seedlings for this winter’s supply of home-grown vegetables.