Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Detroit Doesn't Need to Shut-off Water to Non-Payers

In "Detroit water shut-offs condemned as threat to health" (New Scientist, 16 July 2014), concern was expressed about the health effects of cutting off the supply to homes where the water bill has not been paid. In 2011 the Auckland Council decided to limit the water supply for non-payers to one litre per minute ("Pay up or it'll take longer to flush loo", by Bernard Orsman, New Zealand Herald, 24 June 2011). A more practical limit would be 3 litres per minute, to allow at least a meagre shower.

A typical domestic water supply delivers 15 litres per minute, whereas the World Health Organisation advises that 20 litres per person per day is needed for drinking, basic hygiene and food preparation ("What is the minimum quantity of water needed?", WHO, 2014). At one litre per minute an old style toilet cistern would take about 14 minutes to fill (newer ones 5 minutes). However, while this would be adequate for toilet flushing and hand washing, even specially designed low-flow shower heads require about 3 litres per minute to operate.

1 comment:

Tom Worthington said...

My suggestion for Detroit's water supply has been published as a Letter in New Scientist magazine:

* Worthington, T, 2014, 'Let Detroit dribble', New Scientist, vol. 223, no. 2982, p. 29. DOI: 10.1016/S0262-4079(14)61585-2