Water, or 'liquid gold', is the most important ingredient for life. Homeowners are reminded to be more aware than ever of the critical water shortages that face South Africa and, if the current rate of water usage continues, demand is likely to exceed supply. Some projections estimate that South Africa already exploits about 98% of its available water supply resources. Reports also suggest that the ongoing loadshedding can impact water supply in cities and towns across the country. We take a look at some ways to save water.
It was reported by the Department of Water and Sanitation in the mid-2000’s that Gauteng water demand would outstrip supply in Gauteng by 2013 – and the rest of the country by 2025 – but little has been done by industry and individuals to curb water wastage.
Heavy water restrictions are in place in most of the major cities, with Cape Town recently facing Day Zero. Small towns across South Africa are dry, with many relying on water donations from ordinary citizens.
“To some countries, saving water loss is a nice-to-have green idea,” says Chris de Wet Steyn, a local expert on water wastage. “In a country like South Africa, it is not just a question of leaving a green footprint for future generations, it is an essential component of our being able to survive and thrive!”
According to recent reports, nearly half of all of tap water in SA is being stolen, wasted or simply leaking away every year.
The big question is, What can homeowners do to contribute to a solution? Perhaps the most logical answer to this question is that if we don't waste what we have, we'll still have it in the future.
There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you. Here are some ideas of what you can do:
It is important to make sure that after a tap is used, it is closed properly. While this seems like a relatively small thing to do, a tap dripping at one drop per second will waste as much as thirty litres of water in one day, which equates to around 10 000 litres of water a year. That is a lot of water from one single dripping tap.
Ensure that tap washers are replaced regularly and fit aerators to restrict and spread the flow. An aerator will reduce water usage creating a no-splashing stream delivering a mixture of water and air. Remember to turn off the tap when brushing teeth, as will save around twenty litres of water per month. A mug of water can be used to rinse the toothbrush after use.
Showering will use far less water than bathing, provided that the shower is short. Cut shower time to two minutes or less. If there is only the option of taking a bath, the bath should be as shallow as possible and water reused to water the garden, flush the toilet or wash the car. Installing a water-saving shower head will also aid in reducing water usage. Ideally when showering the water should not be in full force, and it should be turned off when soaping or shaving. When opting to shave at the basin, it is best to plug the basin rather than rinsing the razor with running water. This will save approximately 45 litres of water a month.
Much like a leaking tap, a leaking toilet can waste vast amounts of water. Installing a water-saving toilet is an option, but for those who don’t wish to spend money on the outlay, adding a brick or sealed container of sand to the cistern will reduce the amount of water used during each flush. A few drops of food colouring in the cistern 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.
If possible only use washing machines and dishwashers when they are fully loaded to avoid unnecessary water usage. Rather than rinsing dishes under running water, opt to rinse items in a basin of water and then reuse the water elsewhere. When running dishwater to heat up, run the tap into bottles to use as drinking water. By keeping bottles of drinking water in the fridge, there is no need to let lukewarm water be wasted when waiting for the tap water to cool. Move food from the freezer to the fridge to defrost naturally, rather than placing it under running water.