This year my and the neighbouring municipality are experiencing drinking water usage regulations due to low levels of ground water. The regulations apply to anyone connected to the common drinking water system, including individuals, companies, industries, farmers and municipal operations.
Depending on your roll within in the municipality the personal gain differs. Private home owners are no longer allowed to wash their cars at their own drive ways, filling their private mini pools or watering their lawns. They are also suggested to not keeping the water running unnecessarily, for example when taking a shower the water could be turned off while applying shower cream or shampoo or they should not wash the dishes by hand with the water running. Some companies are using more water than others and the regulations are most often affecting them as well. House painting companies are no longer allowed to clean the facades using drinking water. They have to come up with another solution. One company is using sea water.
The regulations are already applied and have been since mid April. However, I perceive a huge behavioural differences between people as well as between companies. Some people continue as usual, some even questions whether the low ground water levels actually are real. Some companies, as mentioned above, are finding alternative and more sustainable ways of working while others somewhat advocates increased water usage. Like where I work. Employees are encouraged to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dish washer because ”otherwise it won’t get clean”. In my opinon the problem is not the amount of left-overs, but the amount of cutlery in the dish washer.
Most importantly we need a different story. The local municipality has already taken its responsibility in introducing the regulations but I don’t think it’s enough, not in the long run. We need a different story, a story everyone can relate to. A story that explains why the drinking water is important, that creates incentives for each individual and each company to work for the collective and and not solely for their own personal gain. A story that provides individuals with tools to create change within the local community or within the company they work. A story telling all the benefits of changing behaviour to a sustainable way of living.
Information about the local regulations in Swedish https://www.halmstad.se/byggabomiljo/bevattningsforbud.16929.html