The ways to respond to our looming Day Zero are as vast as the diversity in this country. But there seems to be two poles in conflict with each other:
Those who have decided to do what they can to avoid it – as we still can. This means you’ve made your calculations. Minimum 3 million folk for 200 water points? I think best the City delivers the water in trailers behind the rubbish trucks once a week. Despite what looks like some serious planning I cannot quite fathom this rolling out peacefully. It is not a scenario that anyone would want. So why don’t we stop it while we still can?
The other pole is those who are just thinking of their own survival and pumping up and gathering as much City water as they can in anticipation of this dreaded day. Hence hastening the event! Folk who still think they’re ok because they can afford installations and stockpiling still have a lot to learn. The problem remains everyone’s problem until everyone has the water they need. What’s the point if your own little ivory tower has abundance and your neighbours are dehydrating? There will be trouble and you won’t be exempted.
Who is ready to share?
So I suggest in my Neighbourhood Watch group that we make a list of everyone who has rainwater stored and those who have borehole water. So that in the event of Day Zero we can share. I ask who is prepared to do that. Silence. No takers. Oh boy, are we still not ready for this shift?
So how to stop this dreaded event? The hope that it can be avoided is based on a few factors:
- the reduced usage by the farmers whose quotas are used up by now (and this will cost us in food prices)
- 7 new projects to generate water from sea water, sewage and by extracting from aquifers and
- YOU and I cutting our consumption right down to below 50 litres per day.
I can decide to see myself as powerful or powerless. And we know that how I see myself is who I am. So what do you choose?
The power to change
Underpinning climate change is a sense of powerlessness. The bulk of our civilisation believed over the past decades of scientific warnings that they are helpless to do anything about it. That their lifestyle cannot possibly influence global weather patterns. Maybe it’s more convenient to act powerless as then you don’t have to change? But look at the consequences? Now will we learn to respond rather?
It’s like an obese person who refuses to make the link between what they consume and the weight that accumulates. Selecting victim thinking – I can’t help it – over taking responsibility. Normally the key that can unlock the door to health is knowledge, followed by truly taking it on board, followed by change and support.
Just so with our position on this planet. Knowledge helps you out of victimhood and into action. Hence that is what we try to spread. Understanding our systems and our role in the big dance is truly liberating – and leaves you with a huge responsibility.
So now with the drought there is this option that everyone comes to the party and becomes acutely aware of their consumption. We have all tried, you would say.
Some of us have been preparing for this for years, and still it seems us citizens are not getting our consumption down enough. How much water does one really need?
Brave new journey
So I embarked on a new path 5 days ago when I turned off our water mains. I reckoned it was the only way we were going to get microscopic awareness of the treasure of water.
I ran 200 litres into a drum first, which was to be our supply for 2 days for 2 people. Figured I’d learn the lessons, make the adaptations whilst it can serve a useful purpose of proving a point and hopefully inspire others to follow suit and ditch Day Zero entirely. Why not? Who wants that to happen?
Now this was not a way to endear myself to my family, on the contrary, but then we all have to adapt now. The sooner the better, then it becomes easy. Remember, change keeps you young – it grows new neural pathways and supports your brain’s neuroplasticity! Hence it’s easier for youngsters to adapt. Let us not be old sticks in the mud.
Waking up more
I was convinced before that I was water aware – publishing hundreds of water stories and fighting for water for so long. I remember writing in 1990 that our rivers are the arteries of Mother Earth and the water her blood. And of course we are cells in that blood, made of water. But without running water my awareness was upgraded to another level.
Now I am surprised to notice that 5 days later we still have 100 litres left. So for cleaning and watering our animals we need only 10 litres per person per day. This does not include drinking water, so add an additional 2 litres to that.
The laundry is waiting for the drum to run empty, then I will switch on the mains, do one load, run another drum of 200 litres, and switch off again. Capturing the laundry water for the veggie garden, which is battling with too little grey water to feed it.
We have water to contribute
How to flush the loos? From my water reservoir (converted pool) once or twice a day. Remember we have been feeding and so keeping alive 20 fruit and nut trees by means of the home’s urine, mixed with pool water. Think litres of water with mega nutrients. Trees thrive. Waste nothing. Saves water as well as loo paper – which takes water in the growing and making thereof.
The reservoir also serves as the family’s bath, which helps so much during the extremely hot days. And the fish are happy to share.
Kitchen cleaning takes a lot of water, which then goes to the food garden. But I find that water gets dirty too fast. It helps to wipe the plates first with paper towels, which then go to the compost. Good idea to have a supply of those and use sparingly. We also focus on generating less dishes to wash. Keep one cup for the whole day, not a new one every time. Even making one pot meals helps. Dog licks the fat left behind in pots and pans. Good for him. Keeps oils out of the grey water. Slowly our systems become more conscious.
The other useful thing is wet wipes. But they must be biodegradable; else we are simply creating other problems again. More waste is not going to save us. And they must never end up in the loo as they block up the system. Biodegradable ones go into the compost.
What we drink makes a difference
Brushing your teeth water conscious. How much water do you need? 1 cm at the bottom of a glass. Natural toothpaste you don’t wet before brushing and you don’t even need to rinse your mouth. Use that little bit to rinse the brush.
Saving water what are you going to drink? Water! Remember any caffeinated drinks are diuretics, so they dehydrate your body and you need to top up with water to restore the balance. For every cup of coffee you actually need to follow with 2 cups of water. During a water scarce time this doesn’t make sense to me. You don’t need to sacrifice that cuppa altogether, but make it decaf. Saves your adrenals, your nervous system, your blood pressure and your water. We also know how many litres of water go into the manufacture of one cup of coffee …200 litres!
When the body is thirsty it’s looking for water. And how lucky we are if we have clean water to drink. It is cool to treasure every drop. I am in awe of Water and really happy to learn more and grow.
Together we can do this. Now is the time to stand in our power.
Words: Elma Pollard
Photos: Mwana Bermudes