Monday, March 26, 2007

Digital Broadcasters | Australia | Saving Water by Radio

ABC Local Radio network in Australia, known as "The Backyard" informed Digital Broadcasters Vendor News of how a simple radio program idea helped most program participants cut their water consumption at home by a staggering 91 per cent in a 40 hour "drought" period. The program was part of an effort to build awareness of water conservation in a country suffering its worst drought this century.

And another outcome from "The 40 Hour Drought" radio project is that many Australians want their bosses to cut water usage too. Some 2000 participants registered across Australia. Of those, 80 per cent met the challenge: to limit water use to just 40 litres in the 40 hour period.

Normally, Australians use some 230 litres a day each, in their home - saving 630 000 litres of water. Compare that to an Olympic size swimming pool that holds one megalitre of water (one million litres).

The 40 Hour Drought ran from 7am on Wednesday March 21 to 11pm on Thursday March 22 March. It was the brainchild of four youngsters who attended the ABC Heywire (Haywire?) Youth Issues Forum. Saving water at work proved more of a challenge.

Dual flush toilets and awareness of water in daily life, where saving water as a talked over topic were matters that came out of the project noted Tony Rasmussen, Manager Network Development for Local Radio at

Of all the messages to the ABC Local Radio message board, the ones that stand out relate to how much water is required to make something. Wayne Meyer is Professor of Natural Resource Science at the University of Adelaide. He's made it his business to know how much water is used in the production of food and fibre. 1kg of beef uses 50,000 ltrs of water, Wayne tells us. So a typical serving of around 200g would use 10,000 ltrs. That's the amount used by the grass and grains that the beast consumes. A kilo of clean wool takes 100 to 140,000 ltr simply to grow the fibre, without calculating the amount needed to clean it then manufacture cloth. Sheep are very efficient water harvesters, says Wayne. "The major amount of water which is involved, particularly in animal products, is associated with the evaporation in growing vegetation."

The best statistics in the Australian context though is beer versus wine making.

With beer, water is used to grow barley, the malting and then fermentation of beer. There isn't a lot of grain in beer so 100 ltrs ought to do it for a bottle of beer, Wayne feels. Add to that the volume in the beer itself.

Wine will use 270ltrs of water per bottle.

Beer is better in terms of use and as well, while Wayne notes a lot of grapes are grown under irrigation.

The ABC news release would have been so more meaningful if it had included something about the ABC Local Radio Network and its contribution to Australian national issues at a local level. (referred to as a boiler plate in PR jargon).

So here it is courtesy of Digital Broadcasters Vendor News. ABC Local Radio, known as "The Backyard" on the Internet, links ABC Radio's 60 local and regional radio stations and program websites around Australia. The Backyard reflects and extends the ABC's commitment to localism through the development of a web site for every ABC region in the country. It provides customised local access to ABC Online. The Backyard is focussed on the requirements of local ABC audiences all over Australia, who can now use their own web site to access a complete range of ABC broadcasting and community information in their region. Saving water is one such subject currently in focus.

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