Sensor-activated Taps Most Effective for Saving Water
A study that evaluated the effect of some water saving devices (WSDs) in Oman indicates that the most effective devices in saving water were sensor-activated taps followed by self-closing taps followed by low-flow showerheads. Such devices were significantly effective in reducing water consumption in restaurants, mosques, hotels and government buildings. The findings of this study, carried out by Dr. Hayder A. Abdel Rahman and Dr. Mushtaque Ahmed from the Department of Soils, Water & Agricultural Engineering, Sultan Qaboos University, Halima Al-Farsi from the Ministry of Regional Municipalities & Water Resources, and Dr. Matheus F. A. Goosen from the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, Alfaisal University, Riyadh,Saudi Arabia, was published in SQU’s Journal of Agricultural & Marine Sciences.
The study concluded the pipeline system was the main source of water delivery to homes as indicated by 67.7% of the participants. Most people in the study area were not using any water saving methods at their homes, yet 76% considered themselves as water savers. It was indicated that there is a high awareness of water shortage in the country; 92% of participants were expecting benefits from using water saving devices in terms of money and alleviating water shortage problems. Participants were readily willing to install water saving devices in their houses.
The case studies revealed that the most effective devices in saving water were sensor-activated taps followed by self-closing taps followed by low-flow showerheads. WSDs were significantly effective in reducing water consumption in restaurants, mosques, hotels and government buildings. Water consumption in shopping centres decreased but not statically significant. Aerators were not effective, as taps come already equipped with aerators. Toilet bags were not effective as the bowl itself must be originally designed to handle a low flush. A flush with a toilet bag was found ineffective in cleaning the bowl and thus users flushed twice thus increasing water use rather than decreasing it. A similar experience was encountered in dual flush cisterns.
This study showed that there was no significant difference in water consumption before and after installation of WSDs at homes. This was due to the fact that faucets in houses were already equipped with aerators so no savings were achieved by installing new aerators. Toilet bags and dual flush toilets were not effective and prompted users to flush twice. The low-flow showerheads were probably effective but their effect was masked by the negative effect of other WSDs. The amount of water consumption per inhabitant ranged from 100 liters/day to about 350 liters/day. The higher value was due mainly to a public use of the garden water. These figures compared well with those in neighboring Gulf Council Countries.
The researchers recommend retrofitting programs that involve replacement of existing plumbing equipment with that uses less water, and residential water audit programs that involve sending trained water auditors to participating family homes, free of charge, to encourage water conservation efforts.
This study involved two phases. A questionnaire was designed to test public attitudes towards the water saving devices, knowledge about water shortage in the Sultanate and willingness to install water saving devices, and other related information. About 125 questionnaires were distributed through students from Sultan Qaboos University to university students, colleagues, friends, neighbors and others so that it can be explained to them if there were any ambiguities or misunderstandings. The second part of the study was supported by the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources (MRMWR). The work was carried out by introducing the WSDs at pilot sites, which were selected with direct guidance and supervision from MRMEWR, of some voluntaries who accepted the installation of WSDs.
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