We moved away from the Eastern Cape five years ago, when Port Elizabeth was parched by another seemingly endless drought. We were water wise, possibly water obsessed as our city was declared a disaster area .
It always bothered me that, in places we have since lived (other than Australia), there was little mindfulness of how fragile our water resources are. In light of our looming water crisis here are nine ways you can save water without too much hassle.
Let me clarify however, that a drought in the suburbs is very different to one in rural areas without municipal supply. This is not yet about absolute survival for us city dwellers, but we might unknowingly be the heaviest domestic consumers. Sometimes in the city it’s about whether your pool will drop below the weir or your hydrangeas will wilt. It is not about saving the crops and the livestock that keep you alive. And that brings me to point number one.
- Perspective. Do you really need to wash your car with drinking water?
- Get a JoJo Tank You can get a super skinny one that fits in a townhouse size space. Connect it to your roof run off and let all that lovely (when it comes) rainwater fill it up. Then water your garden (and wash your car) from that. Not from water that has, at great cost, been treated to be safe for drinking.
- Reuse your grey water. (That’s the stuff that comes our of the bathtub, washing machine and shower. Even the kitchen sink if you scrape the plates properly.) It might urge you to use more environmentally friendly detergents at the same time. You could go old school and DIY, or enlist help to install a Grey Water System
- For those with a swimming pool there is the old down-pipes-into-the-pool trick. Connect your roof run off (The part that is not going into the JoJo tank) to fill up your pool. Let’s face it, it’s not necessary to frolic in drinking water. Lilos float in rainwater too.
- Indoors, use the old brick/two-liter-milk-bottle-in-the-cistern trick. Fill up some of the volume of the cistern with a brick or similar, and litres will be saved with each flush. (Again. If you stand back and reflect, is it not quite bizarre to be flushing away excrement with water you have paid to make drinkable?)
- The emergency swimming pool flush. (If, because of #4, your pool is full, take a bucket of pool water to fill up the cistern and flush the loo.)
- You don’t have a pool? (Lucky you. When that water goes below the weir, it’s over. No more pump. Hello green.) For the emergency flush scenario, you need a bucket in the shower. It uses up a bit of your grey water, but it does allow for that necessary flush.
- Put an egg timer in the bathroom to stop your inner shower singer from getting carried away. In summer you can also comfortably switch off the water during the washing rituals and switch it back on for the rinse.
- Back to the garden. I learned this from friends in California, who are also in the midst of a crippling drought. It is a must watch, you will see how these smart entrepreneurs Paint brown lawns green Who knows, it might be an opportunity for local entrepreneurs too.
- There are some Water Recycling options that work for industrial and domestic applications, including Professional Car Washes
It’s never too late to get started, even though the Cape rainy season is past. A spit and a spot can quickly fill a tank. And all you Joburgers, sweltering in your early summer heat, you can prepare now for that eventual cooling summer rainfall.