Miss W’s blog: Water in Ibiza – Don’t waste a drop!
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine – let’s call her Miss H – shared a particularly impactful post on social media about the water shortage crisis in Ibiza. She was overwhelmed by the amount of likes and shares it received, because it wasn’t a post about parties. It wasn’t a post about island gossip. It wasn’t self-promotion for her upcoming book. It wasn’t even a cute cat video. The post in question was drawing attention to a huge problem we are facing in Ibiza at the moment (and have been facing for quite a few years), which is a dramatic shortage of water.
I have to shamefully admit, until I really read her post and started to do a little research of my own, I fell into the category of the blissfully ignorant. And I usually consider myself to be switched on when it comes to Ibiza community and social situations, which kind of proves just how much we need to spread the word about conserving our island’s precious water supplies to visiting holidaymakers and island residents alike.
I’m going to skip over the technical details about depleted and polluted water supplies, inactive desalination plants and ever-increasing drought statistics for now – though if you want to know more, take a little time out of your day to watch this informative video by the Ibiza Preservation Fund – and instead, I want to focus on what we, as individuals and a community alike can do to make a difference right here, right now, in Ibiza.
Very first and foremost, we need to be mindful of our own personal water consumption. Every day. I’m not talking about drinking water – please, guzzle as much water as you can. It’s good for you! But I mean the ways we use, and consequently waste, water on a daily basis. You might think little things won’t make a difference, but if we don’t attempt to make a difference on a personal level, how can the world be expected to make a change on a global scale?
The changes we can make at home are simple. Take shorter showers. In fact, turn the shower off as you lather up – we’re in a warm climate after all – then turn it back on to rinse off. Wash your hair less frequently (after all, the salt water of our beaches make it look fabulous anyway). Turn the tap off while cleaning your teeth. Or guys, when you’re shaving. Save up all your laundry until you have full loads, rather than washing smaller loads each week (another good excuse to go shopping if you think you don’t have enough underwear to get through the time!). Same goes for dishwashers. Try to flush the toilet less (remember the ditty, if it’s yellow let it mellow – it makes sense), or at least use the half flush if you have the option. If you have an old toilet as many Ibiza fincas do, without the half flush button, you could invest in an upgrade or simply place some bricks in the tank to reduce the amount of water used in every flush! Take your car through a commercial carwash, where they recycle water rather than washing it yourself at home and letting it go to waste. As a tourist, if you’re staying in a hotel, don’t have your towels and sheets changed daily.
On a slightly bigger scale, if you own a villa, don’t to fill your pool to capacity to reduce wastage. Cover it when it’s not in use – on average, 55 litres of water will evaporate from your pool per day. The average swimming pool contains around 50,000 litres of water and there are over 10,000 pools in Ibiza. We’re no suggesting you give up the luxury of your pool in summer – far from it, but if everyone could be more conscious, our water supplies would not suffer as much.
Homeowners are encouraged to grow plants such as succulents rather than lush tropical landscaping, as they require very little water. If you do have a garden or lawn, water it in the morning or the evening to reduce evaporation.
If you rent out your home in the summer, do your best to make your tenants aware of the water shortage crisis – print out this picture above (courtesy of My Ibiza & Formentera Guide – thanks Miss H!) and stick it in the bathrooms, by the kitchen sink and anywhere else you have running water. In summer, water consumption levels on the island are off the chart, and these are no longer being balanced out by lower population in the winter, as more and more people make Ibiza their home and we are working to encourage year round tourism. It’s all well and good to blame the problem on summer’s influx of tourists and overconsumption, but we can’t expect tourists – whose trade most island residents and locals rely on to make a living – to know about the problem unless we tell them, and ask them to make a conscious effort to support us.
Obviously we can’t make it rain more (unless someone out there has a power I don’t), so we need to be conscious about conserving the little rainwater we are blessed to receive throughout the year, to use for irrigation and to fill our swimming pools. Last year was the driest summer in 10 years, and this season’s not looking a lot better, so when you see an Ibiza local rejoicing when a flash storm thunders through the island in May or August, please don’t think they’re raining on your holiday parade – their happiness comes because the island needs this rain. It’s not just because they get a day off work in peak season (though I’m also not saying they don’t love that too).
Miss H is starting her very own campaign to continue to raise awareness by joining the car sticker wars on the island this summer – after all, if it works for all the club promoters, why can’t it work for our environment too? Coming soon, to a car near you!
Photography by Ana Lui – Hair & make-up by Diva Borelli – White Ibiza Cavallet Maxi available here
Illustrations by Hjordis Fogelberg Jensen and taken from the revised edition of My Ibiza & Formentera Guide