Community News

Every drop counts

Michele du Plessis

South Africa is a water-scarce country which depends on much for its water on rainfall patterns and needs to be prudent in the management of this resource. The Department of Water and Sanitation suggest we do the following to save water:

In and around the house/business…

  • Turn the tap off between washing your face, brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Taking a five-minute shower a day, instead of a bath, will use a third of the water used bathing in a bathtub, saving up to 400 litres a week.
  • Showering can use up to 20 litres of water per minute.
  • If you prefer to bath, don’t fill up the bathtub as a bath can use between 80 and 150 litres of water per bath.
  • Use low-flow showerheads, dual-flush toilet mechanisms and water-efficient washing machines.
  • Kettles should not be filled to the brim but with just enough water for your needs. This will reduce your electricity bill too.
  • Reducing the toilet flush volume alone can save 20% of total water consumption. This can be done by putting a 2-litre cold drink bottle, filled with water and a little sand to add weight, into the cistern.
  • Fix a leaking toilet otherwise, it can waste up to 100 000 litres of water in one year.
  • Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other waste in the trash rather than the toilet. Every time you flush the toilet, 12 litres of water is used.
  • Use “grey water” – used water from baths, washing machines and other safe sources – to flush your toilet.
  • Do not over-fill or excessively backwash your swimming pool.
  • Use a bucket rather than a hose to wash your car.
  • Do not pour paint and chemicals down the drain.
  • Farmers must ensure that they keep toxic insecticides away from water sources and streams.
  • Factories should take care of how they discharge mercury and other heavy metals into wastewater.
  • People living in rural areas should be careful not to use the river or river bank as a toilet.

In the garden …

  • Every time you boil an egg, save the cooled water for your houseplants. They’ll benefit from the nutrients released from the shell.
  • Focus on indigenous and non-water-consumptive alien plants (but not invasive alien plants).
  • Group plants according to their water needs and to mulch around them.
  • Water gardens less frequently, but water well. Using a garden hose could use as much as 30 litres of water per minute.
  • Roof water can also be profitably stored in tanks, for watering gardens.
  • Use “grey water” – used water from baths, washing machines and other safe sources – to water your garden.


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