Water Efficiency in a Body Corporate

With summer in full swing and many areas of Queensland suffering from drought, everyone should be mindful of using water wisely. Bodies corporate, as well as owners, occupiers, committees and onsite managers are reminded of their obligations under the body corporate legislation when it comes to maintaining common property and lots.

We’re providing this information with input from SEQ Water, who are a statutory authority responsible for water management.

The body corporate must maintain common property, including utility infrastructure which is common property, in good condition (section 159 of the Standard Module regulation). Owners must maintain their lot and the utility infrastructure within the boundaries of their lot in good condition (section 170 of the Standard Module regulation).

A great deal of water can be lost due to poorly maintained or faulty plumbing fixtures, leaking pipes or fittings. By carrying out maintenance, bodies corporate can do their best to ensure that water isn’t wasted.

What do you do if you notice a leak on the common property? If you notice a water leak on the common property, you should notify your body corporate so that they can attend to the issue. You can write to your committee asking them to engage a plumber or other professional to take a look at the problem and provide a quote.

Some leaks may be harder to identify. Here are some things that you can look out for that might indicate a leak:

  • unexplained wet or soggy areas on the common property
  • pool levels dropping more than expected
  • hissing noises coming from a toilet cistern long after flushing

Did you know that a continuously leaking toilet can waste up to 60,000 litres of water a year? That is a lot of water wasted that could be avoided by looking out for signs such as water running down the back of the toilet bowl long after flushing.

If you as the owner or occupier of a lot notice a leak within your lot, you should do what you can to try to fix to it as soon as possible. If you are renting the lot (i.e. an occupier, under body corporate legislation), you may need to notify your letting agent or landlord about the problem. As well as ensuring that maintenance is carried out when required, the body corporate, owners and occupiers may also consider other ways to save water.

Below are a few tips from SEQ Water:

For the body corporate, as well as onsite managers:

  • ensure taps on common property are turned off firmly when not in use
  • avoid watering common property gardens when rain is predicted
  • sweep common property walkways and paths rather than hosing them
  • if you have an irrigation system on common property, adjust the timing to ensure it meets the water needs of the season
  • link your irrigation system to a moisture or rain sensor to avoid watering during or just after rain
  • if the body corporate has a water feature, ensure that it recirculates the water and is turned on only when needed
  • water the common property before 8am and after 4pm to avoid the heat of the day and loss of water to evaporation

For owners and occupiers:

  • wash full loads in the washing machine and reduce half loads
  • take shorter showers and use a timer
  • install water efficient devices such as dual-flush toilets
  • if you have a garden or lawn, water it before 8am and after 4pm
  • turn off the tap when brushing your teeth

Not only might these measures go a long way towards ensuring efficient water usage when it is currently scarce, but they might also end up saving owners, occupiers and bodies corporate money.

Not all bodies corporate have individual water meters installed, therefore it is important for everyone to get on board with these measures so that all owners and occupiers can benefit from potential savings.

Remember too that in a body corporate, decisions are made at either committee level or a meeting of all owners (a general meeting), depending upon the amount of money involved, what is being decided upon or whether it involves changes to common property or an owner’s lot.

For more information and tips about saving water, you can also visit the SEQ Water webpage www.seqwater.com.au. 

For general body corporate information, contact the Commissioner’s Office on 1800 060 119 or www.qld.gov.au/bodycorporate.

AUTHOR: Jane Wilson- Acting Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management            

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