•  Everybody seems to be talking about water. And it’s no wonder why.

Just have a quick look at what’s happening with our water here in the Northern Territory. •  Australian households (and that includes us in the Northern Territory) use the most water per household in the world!

The average person in Darwin might use up to 341,000 litres (that’s around eight backyard swimming pools) worth of water each year!

Rest of world
The world average is 57,000 litres! We’re nearly using six-times as much water as most of the other people on the planet!

•  How can it be that we use so much water? •  Well we do use a fair bit of water around the house, washing the dishes, watering the garden, cleaning our clothes and flushing the toilet.

•  But we are getting much, much better at saving water at home. So how come we're still using so much more water than the rest of the world? •  It turns out that a lot of the water that we use we don’t even know we are using. We can’t even see this water that we use. What are we talking about?

•  Almost everything we use and eat needs water to be produced. It’s not written on the label and we can’t see this water in the clothes that we wear or in the food that we eat. We don’t even get the chance to drink it! •  But it was needed to make the clothes and the food, and so it still counts towards the total amount of water that we use. We call this water ‘Virtual Water’.

•  What is 'virtual water'? Well we think it means the water that is hidden in our food or other products that we use. It means the water that was needed to grow or make our food or those products that we use. •  For example, it’s the water that was used to grow the wheat that was used to make the flour for the bread that you ate for breakfast today. And the butter that you spread on your bread? Well, to make the butter the cows that gave the milk needed to be given water for drinking, and needed food to eat, and this food needed water to grow.

•  So you’re probably thinking that it can’t be that much water that goes into making all the stuff that we eat and consume. •  Well, actually, it is quite a lot. Look at the following list of products and look at how much water each one uses.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  • 

1 glass of milk (200ml) - 75 litres 1 slice of bread (30g) - 40 litres 1 slice of bread (30g) with cheese (10g) - 90 litres 1 apple (100g) - 70 litres 1 glass of orange juice (200ml) - 170 litres 1 bag of potato chips (200g) - 185 litres 1 egg (40g) - 135 litres 1 hamburger (150g) - 2,400 1 pair of leather shoes - 8,000 litres 1 cotton t-shirt - 2,000 litres 1 sheet A4 paper - 10 litres 1 microchip - 32 litres 1kilogram of beef - 16,000 litres

•  So that’s where a lot of our water goes. But that’s not all. The amount of rainfall we get in this country has been changing lately. •  The picture on the next slide shows the average rainfall over the last three years around the country. It has been pretty wet in some places but in others it has been the driest it has ever been •  You will see that many parts of the Northern Territory have recorded some of the highest rainfalls ever. The red shows the places with the least rainfall while the blue shows the places with the most.

Rainfall in Australia for the last three years

•  Why have these water levels been dropping? Well as you probably already know, we’ve been having a very bad drought for quite some time now: about 10 years actually.

•  The problem is that it looks like this might not just be a drought, but might actually be the first signs of climate change. More and more scientists now believe that the NT’s climate patterns are changing. •  This means that the dry spell that we’re having might never really end: instead, this might be the new climate.

•  According to CSIRO this will affect:
–  The ability of irrigators to produce food; –  The natural environment and its plants and animals in our cities and our rural regions; –  The performance and practices of businesses and industries; and –  The natural or environmental flows in our rivers and wetlands.

•  On top of that, the water that we do have is getting more polluted. •  You’ve probably seen rubbish floating in the river or creek. This is pretty bad for our waterways. But there are also tiny bits of pollution that are sometimes impossible to see but that are really, really bad for our water.

•  Where might these tiny bits of pollution come from?

•  The tiny bits of pollution can be found in the and grease that run-off the streets in the rain, they can come from leaking sewage pipes, from accidental spills by factories, and from cow and dog poo washing into the rivers and creeks.

•  This can start to sound a lot like very bad news. But don’t worry; it’s not all bad. •  There are lots and lots of people all around the world working hard to make sure that we’ll have enough water to drink and grow food with, and the water that we have is clean and healthy.

•  One idea some people have had for making more water has been to recycle sewage and turn it into water that can be used around the house and used in businesses. •  You may have heard that this was a recent hot issue over in Queensland. •  The town of Toowoomba recently rejected a proposal to drink recycled sewage: even if it was clean, would you drink recycled sewage?

•  So maybe you’re not quite ready to drink recycled sewage. But there are many other things you can do to help save water and protect our waterways. •  Start by thinking about what you would most like to see happen or change: what would that be? How do you think you go about making that happen? What little things could you do to help you reach that goal?


Using the Cool Green Hero Checklist that we have provided, or using one that you have created yourself, think up at least two actions around water that will help our environment and that you think you can achieve within the next six months.

•  Write down a few sentences for each cool green action that describes what you hope to do. If you’re a bit stuck for ideas, have a look at the next slide for some of the tips that we’re doing to to save water.

Tips for saving water
•  Fix any dripping taps or leaky toilets. A leaking tap can waste as much as " •  20,000 litres of water a year. Enough said. " •  Likewise the dual-flush toilet. If itʼs yellow let it mellow, if itʼs brown flush it down - with a half flush. " •  While weʼre being short but sweet, take shorter showers. " •  And obviously, turn off the tap while youʼre brushing your teeth. We know you know, but youʼd be amazed... " •  Install a rainwater tank! Your roof is more efficient than a dry dam catchment and youʼll save on water bills. " •  Save some shower water and share it with the lawn. Or the street trees in front of your house. " •  For more tips and more information on water visit the Our Cool School site. •  Did we forget any? Send us your tips and we’ll post them on the Our Cool School website!

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful