Back L to R: Rous County Council (RCC) Richmond Valley Council nominee Cr Robert Mustow, Annika Olsson, RCC Lismore Council nominee Cr Vanessa Ekins, RCC Ballina Shire Council nominee Cr Sharon Cadwallader, RCC Lismore City Council nominee Cr Darlene Cook.Middle-front L to R: RCC General Manager Phillip Rudd, RCC Richmond Valley Council nominee Cr Sandra Humphrys, RCC Chairman and Ballina Shire Council nominee Keith Williams, Julie Gauld, Samuel Bacon, Macie McKenzie, Emily McKenzie, Edith McKenzie.
Back L to R: Rous County Council (RCC) Richmond Valley Council nominee Cr Robert Mustow, Annika Olsson, RCC Lismore Council nominee Cr Vanessa Ekins, RCC Ballina Shire Council nominee Cr Sharon Cadwallader, RCC Lismore City Council nominee Cr Darlene Cook.Middle-front L to R: RCC General Manager Phillip Rudd, RCC Richmond Valley Council nominee Cr Sandra Humphrys, RCC Chairman and Ballina Shire Council nominee Keith Williams, Julie Gauld, Samuel Bacon, Macie McKenzie, Emily McKenzie, Edith McKenzie. Jasmine Burke

The water saving ideas which won 160 Litre Challenge

FROM the wildly original to simple changes in habit, top water-saving ideas have been recognised in the first 160 Litre Challenge Competition.

Five winners from across the region were presented with more than $5,000 in prizes, including a water-efficient household appliance, Wet'n'Wild passes and rainwater tanks.

Initiated by the region's bulk water supplier, Rous County Council, the competition tasked Northern Rivers residents with monitoring their water use over a 30-day period.

Over 50 entries were judged on their innovation, effectiveness and ease of implementation in reducing personal water use to under 160 litres per person per day. The regional average is 194 litres per day.

Rous County Council General Manager, Phillip Rudd, said the entries revealed people are willing to adapt their water use habits in the long term, but that there is still work to be done.

"The range of ideas were impressive. They included water-efficient home and landscape designs, rainwater harvesting and everyday water saving measures that have a long-term impact.

"Acting now will help reduce demand on the region's main water source, Rocky Creek Dam. Water restrictions come into place when the dam level reaches 60 percent, so we benefit greatly by changing our water usage habits now, well before water restrictions are in place.

"The competition might be over, but the challenge is still on to reduce everyone's personal water use to under 160 litres per day.”

Lismore's Samuel and Cynthia Bacon took home the main prize of a water-efficient washing machine or dishwater to the value of $1,500 for their sub-surface irrigation system.

Fed by a rainwater tank, the drip line system targets water at the roots and significantly reduces evaporation. The Bacon's, whose household averages 40 litres per day per person, say their kids can now kick a ball around on water efficient green grass all year around.

One entry to pique the interest of the judges was Sally Butler's idea to listen to her favourite sub four-minute song to curb long showers.

"Blind Melon's 'No Rain' is a favourite at around three minutes thirty seconds, and the title fit the cause!” Ms Butler said.

Cutting down shower time from the average seven minutes to four can help save a family of four 40,000 litres of water a year.

It was also a catchy tune that caught the judge's attention when reviewing school entries. As well as suggesting teachers use smaller cups for their "hundreds of cups of tea and coffee”, Southern Cross Public School students' jingle 'No drips, no drops, fixing dripping taps' saw the East Ballina school win a 5,000-litre rainwater tank.

A second rainwater tank was awarded to Casino Community Garden Project managed by the Casino Neighbourhood Centre for their collective water-saving methods of mulching, design and using recycled water bottles for drip irrigation.

Winning the children's category and tickets to Wet'n'Wild was 13-year-old Kate Giddy who suggested when washing cats or dogs, "try to get away with using only a small amount of water”.

"If you would like to, even sharing a shower with your companion!”

Among the more unique entries was the use of a rockmelon as a glass that can be composted instead of washed, collecting water bubbler overflow in schools and a national simultaneous 'Singing to Country' to help bring waterways back to balance and health.

Competition winners:

  • Adult winner: Cynthia and Samuel Bacon, Lismore.
  • Adult highly commended: Sally Butler, Casino.
  • Children's winner: Kate Giddy, Byron Bay.
  • Children's winner: Edith McKenzie, Lennox Head.
  • Schools winner: Southern Cross Public School, Ballina.
  • Schools highly commended: Empire Vale Public School, Empire Vale.
  • Community winner: Casino Neighbourhood Centre's Community Garden Project, Casino.
  • Community highly commended: Shara Community Gardens, Ocean Shores.