While domestic water usage makes up a relatively low percentage of South Africa’s water consumption (27%, according to Department of Water Affairs 2013 figures) compared to agricultural use, household water is clean and drinkable and is, therefore, more valuable than that used for irrigation, and should be used as sparingly as possible.
Each household should be doing all it can to alleviate the huge pressure being put on the country’s water supply as there are no signs of the drought letting up anytime soon, says Anne Porter, head of Knight Frank Residential SA.
If each household were to install either a rainwater harvesting or grey water system (or both) this would ensure that pure water is used solely for its purpose and not being wasted, said Porter.
Rainwater harvesting is collecting the run-off from a structure (such as the roof of the home and garage) and storing it to use later. Rain will collect in gutters that channel the water into downpipes and then into a storage tank. Rainwater collection systems can be as simple as collecting rain directly into a rain barrel placed under the downpipe or as elaborate as harvesting rainwater into large cisterns with pumps to supply your entire household demand.
Rain water is perfectly suitable to use to irrigate the garden, wash vehicles, wash pets, refill swimming pools or fountains, flush toilets and wash clothes, and a rainwater harvesting system need not take up a lot of garden space, as the tanks can either be dug into the ground or be “streamline” tanks along an exterior wall.
Grey water is wastewater from bathroom sinks, bath tubs, showers, and clothes washing machines. Grey water systems, similarly, need not take up a lot of space, and the water channelled into the grey water tanks can be used for watering gardens and flushing toilets. This will help you save money on your water bills. Unlike rain, grey water is a constant and reliable source of water that should be harnessed.
“Water shortages are not just a South African phenomenon, and people all over the world are trying to think of ways to reuse and save water – why not start with just your household?”