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The end of the Hollywood shower?

published, Dec 18, 2008 11:58pm
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The Victorian government has recently introduced Target 155 – lets all use less than 155 litres of water per person per day in an effort to start saving what little water we have in our dams.  Hell help us if our storage runs out – electricity and water are two fundamental things that keep life as we know it in the concrete jungle “operational”

The shower is a biggie in the in-home usage mix.  We've all been told to fit water efficient shower heads, use buckets to catch the water.  But really – who really want's to use a bucket – plenty of traps like tripping over the damn thing, then lugging it outside, only to spill it down the stairs or get a strained shoulder.

The Navy may have come up with a simple solution some time ago.  You see, out at sea, with water water everywhere there is one problem - plenty of water, but nothing to drink.  From time to time, the stinky sailor needs to wash to head off mutiny and or other related personal hygiene problems.  With water little to spare (not all sailors survive on a rum diet – especially not in the U.S. Navy) it needs to be used efficiently.

The term “Hollywood Shower” - a long lavish shower without a limit on water or time just won't do when all out at sea.  So the solution is simple – just turn off the water while you wash.  Here's the skinny:

  1. turn on the water
  2. immediately wet the body
  3. turn off the water
  4. soap up and scrub
  5. turn the water back on and rinse off the soap

The total time for the water being on is typically under two minutes, and the water consumption can   get down to as low as 15-20 litres per shower – well on the way to that target 155.
So, perhaps the answer is just as simple as leaving the water in the pipe!  That way we can always have enough left over to brush out teeth and brew that important cup of morning coffee.

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If the Victorian government really cared about water consumption, why don't they just tax water at $0.10 a liter? That would make a navy shower cost $1.50 - $2.00, which would make it worth considering. They could provide the first 5 liters (per person, per day) tax free, so even really poor people have enough to drink, cook and personal hygiene.

The big question to me is: why don't they do that? Why do they play on our guilt feelings in stead of our wallets? I suspect the reason is that the government wants to be seen as a big strong father who protects it's children: very macho but very ineffective.

And $0.10 a liter is way more than the cost of desalination, even if you include carbon credits.

For some long long time now, piped in tap water has been considered as a "right" as opposed to what it actually is - a privilege.  Did you know you can't be disconnected for not paying your water bill?  They can only place a restrictor in your water line.

The government has been quite fearful of price driven signals as a mechanism to impact demand.  As it stands today, you can buy a kilolitre of fresh potable water, treated to world class standards out of your pipe for ~18c.  A kilolitre of treated sewage from, fresh from the "plant" will cost you 75c.  And there 'aint enough to quench the thirst of market gardeners and other irrigators.... go figure...

Increased water charges are in our future however, with gradual hikes over the last few years creeping in - particularly in the area of "deemed" usage for sewage and drainage, calculated from your metered usage.   This will certainly be taking a more aggressive form, with fresh water prices doubling for many families through the next year or so.


I think it's fair not to disconnect people under any circumstances, but beyond a reasonable minimum, people should just pay whatever it really costs.

I don't think slowly raising prices is going to do it though, because that will take ages and will cause people to protest for ages: it's probably better to switch to realistic prices in one go, deal with some angry folks and then get used to it.


What's even worse is that people are willing to pay 10.000x more for bottled water (i.e. $10.000 per kiloliter in stead of $0.18) It's almost as if they consider tap water bad, because it's also used for toilets, showers and gardening.

Sometimes governments just need to have a bit of guts; this would be one of those times.

Agree and agree. 

It's over the top hillarious that some of that "bottled" water has actually come out of the local tap...  Add the waste issue from the discarded bottles and bottled water becomes a very real and serious problem.

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