Water is a vital commodity that we require to survive. South Africa is ranked as one of the 30 driest countries with an annual average rainfall of 464 mm. In recent times, there has been an increase in droughts across South Africa, which means that the necessary precautions must be taken to ensure that this essential resource is not used carelessly.
“There are several ways that homeowners can reduce their water consumption in and around the home. This will not only bring down their monthly water bill but will also reduce water usage and limit the need for water restrictions,” advises Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
Currently, South Africa’s average daily water consumption per person is at 237 litres per day. This can be reduced significantly if all homeowners are willing to adjust their daily water usage habits around the home. “It’s not necessary to go the extreme, however, the small efforts you make to use less water can provide a great relief on our dams,” says Goslett.
To start, it is important to ensure that once a tap has been used, it is closed properly. A tap dripping at one drip per second will waste as much as 30 litres of water a day. That equates to around 10 000 litres of water wasted in a year, simply from one single dripping tap. Homeowners can fit aerators to restrict the flow and reduce water usage as it creates a no-splashing stream.
Much like a leaking tap, a leaking toilet can waste vast amounts of water. Homeowners could add a few drops of food colouring in the cistern which will help to determine if any water is leaking from the toilet. If the colour seeps into the bowl, the system is leaking and should be fixed without delay. “Installing a water-saving toilet is a good option, but for those who don’t wish to spend money on it, adding a brick or sealed container of sand to the cistern will reduce the amount of water used during each flush,” says Goslett.
Generally, showers use far less water than baths, provided that the shower time is less than 5 minutes long. “When you do bath, try to reuse the bathwater by watering your gardening with it,” advises Goslett. Installing a water-saving showerhead will also aid in reducing water usage. Ideally when showering the water should not be at full force, and it should be turned off when soaping or shaving.
However, the most significant area for water to be saved is in the garden. Statistically, homeowners in South Africa consume an estimated 31%-50% of the water on garden maintenance. “While an attractive, established garden can add considerable value to a property, a water-wise garden that takes less water to maintain makes sense from both an environmental and financial viewpoint,” says Goslett.
A gardening rule of thumb would be to plant only indigenous plants as they consume very little water and require minimal maintenance. “The lawn is known to guzzle water, so homeowners should assess how much is necessary. Consider adding hardscaping features such as a paved or cobblestone footpath, which will reduce watering areas as well as add to the aesthetic appeal and overall feel of the garden,” advises Goslett.
While most parts of the country are about to enter their rainy season, these waterwise habits should not be forgotten or neglected. “Becoming water-wise is essential. We might not be facing a water crisis right now, but we may face it again in the future if we are not careful. It is about adopting a long-term sustainability mindset and consuming our natural resources wisely at all times and not just during a crisis,” Goslett concludes.