With level four water restrictions now in place, dam levels currently at 19.6% (with only 10% available as usable water), and the Western Cape now declared a disaster zone by Premier Helen Zille, Capetonians need to do all they can to conserve the province’s precious resource. Even though the Western Cape is gearing up for heavy rainfall, we can still do our best to conserve water in the meantime.
Here are a few tips, written in collaboration with Hippo.co.za, on how to save water and recycle grey water:
Collect and reuse fresh water
They are numerous ways to collect fresh water during daily activities, that can be reused at a later stage.
Below are a few ways to start:
- Place a bucket in your shower to catch cascading water
- Empty the bath water by collecting it in a bucket, instead of letting it go down the drain
- Place a bucket outside to collect fresh rainwater
- Place a bowl in the kitchen sink to collect water used when washing vegetables and your hands
- Keep cooled water used for cooking.
All the water collected in these various ways can be reused, instead of using more fresh water. Pour the water onto your dry grass or plants, and pour it into your toilet so that less fresh water is used to flush.
Collect and reuse grey water
One of the top ways to prevent your household from using extra water, is to reuse grey water. Grey water is water that has already been used for bathing, showering and laundry, for example, but can be used again as it is still relatively clean after use. Making use of grey water need not cost a fortune to set up. But remember that, in order to use your house’s grey water, you need to use only biodegradable cleaning materials in the home.
While this can be a more complicated task, it is possible to reuse the water used by your washing machine. Older washing machines can use up to 150 litres per wash, but more modern, water efficient machines can use between 37 to 45 litres of water per wash. The water used for your laundry can be reused in your garden and a number of devices are available to help you do so. One of the more affordable devices, known as the Water Warrior, can be attached to your outlet pipe, and is relatively easy to install. Water will then be directed onto your garden once the cycle has been completed. The Water Warrior device can cost between R29 and R129.
Apart from collecting water that is used, you can also change a few of your habits to ensure that less fresh water comes out of your taps in the first place.
Here are a few ways you can minimize your water usage:
Dishwasher / Washing machine
Only use these washing machines if you are confident that you have a full load. This will eliminate more frequent loads with fewer clothes or dishes, and therefore less water will be used over time. You can also avoid using any pre-rinse, or hour-long washes to reduce the water usage. Also try to use non-toxic detergents and chemical-free soaps to ensure your grey water is ‘garden friendly’.
Old cisterns can use between 9 and 12 litres per flush, and newer ones use about six litres. You can reduce these numbers even further by placing grey water into your toilet bowl, or a brick into your cistern. Both these methods will displace water levels, ensuring that less fresh water is used per flush.
Apart from reducing your shower time, you can replace your current shower head with a water efficient one to reduce your water usage. The average household shower head uses roughly 15 litres of water per minute, whereas a slow-flow shower can reduce this to roughly 9 or 10 litres per minute. This can save almost 50% of the water used during a shower. Low-flow shower heads can cost anything between R70.00 and R350.00.
Also try to use non-toxic detergents and chemical-free soaps to ensure your grey water is ‘garden friendly’.
With the high cost of living, you would not want to find yourself having to turn to a personal loan to cover your additional water expenses. Putting these water recycling and saving methods into practice is a way you can lower both your home’s water usage and cost. As we wait for the judgement on level four water restrictions, there are numerous ways that we can save and reuse water in the home on a daily basis. These changes don’t have to cost a fortune, and can be made relatively easily.