The City of Cape Town recently announced that water restrictions will be implemented soon, but this could be seen as a positive push for many households to assess their consumption and think of ways to conserve water, says Anne Porter, head of Knight Frank South Africa.
Dam levels in the Cape are lower than they should be, after a drier than normal winter and the shortage is likely to be exacerbated by the influx of visitors to the Cape over the festive and holiday season.
There will always be cycles of water shortages in South Africa in various regions, and this resource could be used with more thought to recycling or repurposing some of it, she said.
For the average household, the first step to ensuring that there is no water wastage would be to check for leaking taps, toilets, or irrigation pipes and repair these immediately. Use the water meter as a guide, check the reading, make sure no one uses any water and then check again an hour or two later, if the reading has changed, there is a leak.
There are many water saving shower heads and low-flow tap aerators that are available, and the installation of these should possibly be a priority in any home, said Porter.
In addition, one could put plastic bottles or float boosters in the toilet cisterns, as this reduces the water used for each flush. Alternatively, convert the flushing mechanisms to those that have two flush settings. If there is a chance that the home will be renovated in the near future, homeowners should consider buying low-flush toilets, as this could represent a 70% saving in water flushed each month.
All water from baths and washing machines could be routed to a grey water tank and used to water the garden. Alternatively, a gravity fed system could be installed if there isn’t enough space for tanks to be installed. Rainwater could also be collected and directed to tanks, for use when necessary.
Apart from converting items as mentioned above, said Porter, there are various other ways of saving water each day, which do not cost anything. For example, taking showers instead of bathing and restricting the shower time to four minutes reduces the litres used dramatically; turning the tap off while brushing one’s teeth or washing hands; using a bucket instead of a hose to wash the car; and mulching the flower beds to reduce evaporation and only watering when it is cool, will all help save water.
If each household does a little each day, this equates to many litres saved, which could in turn take the pressure off the dams’ dwindling supply, she said.