Water is essential to all life on earth. Now water is set to head in the same direction as oil, with prices rising as demand is increased and supplies are depleted. The fundamental difference is that whilst oil equals money, water equals life.
We use so much water in our day to day lives that we often take it for granted. Neither do we realize that every product we buy, or use, has a water footprint. Think 140 litres for a single teaspoon of instant coffee, or 2700 litres for a new cotton shirt!
Only 2.5% of all water on the planet is fresh, and only half of that is available to us, yet people waste tons of water every day.
Water restrictions coming
Climate change has drastically affected water supplies in our country. Rains that used to regularly come and supply our water are now infrequent. For example, in Durban the Dams are 20 percent lower than they were in 2010. Due to this fact, our cities are looking to impose water restrictions on communities. Many do not realise the importance of saving and conserving water.
Our water supply is extremely scarce, and we are often faced with the prospect of a drought.
Another problem that Durban in particular faces is stolen water. According to one report, 35% of the city’s water is stolen or given out through illegal connections. It is obvious that if we don’t start making an effort to change our attitude towards water, it will eventually become so scarce and so expensive that wars will be fought over possession of clean water.
Heading for the water wars?
In the science fiction industry, this concept has been explored many times before, in films such as Tank Girl, Waterworld and The Book of Eli, to name a few. It has also been the subject of numerous video games and books. The same way sci-fi novels once described a world in which people could communicate instantly at any time with anyone in the world via mobile devices and communicate face to face on screens, will their predictions about water wars also come true?
As we have seen very recently in places like Iraq, this has already started to happen. The U.S. invaded Iraq, thus facilitating the entrance of companies such as Bechtel to come in order to privatize the water system. They eventually pulled out, but the fact that they even tried makes that post-apocalyptic future seem too close for comfort.
One report stated that in 2008 about 5 million people in South Africa lacked access to water and 15 million lacked access to basic sanitation. This number has improved since the end of apartheid in 1994, however these numbers are still too high and not one person should ever lack access to the most basic necessity of life, which is water.
10 tips for saving water
If you make changes in the way you live, and you try to save the world through your actions, then you will see a positive impact on our dwindling water resources among other things. Your family, friends, and community will see the change in you. The motivation that starts in you can inspire other to save the world, as well.
Here are ten water-saving tips that you can start at home and in your community:
1. Install a rainwater tank
One way in which we can greatly decrease our daily water wastage rate (and monthly water bill) is to install a rainwater tank, otherwise known as a water harvester. A typical rainwater tank can collect thousand of liters each year, particularly when you live in an area with frequent rains.
These tanks are designed to capture water run-off from the roof, so that it can be used for watering your garden, washing your car, flushing your toilet, and all those things that one should not be using drinking water for. If it is filtered correctly, this water can even be used for drinking, cooking and showering.
South Africa’s average annual rainfall rate is half that of the world average! So 464mm, as opposed to a world average of about 860mm. It is time for us to use this opportunity to its greatest potential. With one of these rain harvesters in place, 1mm of rain per square meter on your roof equals 1 litre of water in your water tank. For example, if your roof is 55 square meters large, you can save 25520 litres of water per year. Even if you just fill up your swimming pool from this source, you can save yourself 20 litres of water per day, which evaporates off your pool when it is hot.
One local business that we know of that offers a variety of water harvesting options is Nel Tanks. This is a family business specializing in the production of polyethylene plastic roto-molded tanks, which make ideal water harvesters. They put a focus on personal service and delivery directly to your farm, home and business. Their tanks can be molded into almost any size (100 litres to 14 000 litres), and are available in a variety of colours, to fit in with the aesthetics of any installation site. They manufacture and deliver tanks and services to agricultural companies, municipalities and homes within a 900km range of their business, which is situated in Blackheath, Cape Town.
In other water-scarce countries, such as Australia, it is mandatory to have a rainwater tank set up at home, and we hope that in the near future, this will be the case here too. You can get a head start by investing in a water tank as soon as possible. This is the first step in greening your home.
Contact Etienne Nel at 021-9051395 or click on their banner to learn more.
2. Check for leaks in pipes, hoses & taps
You can reduce water wastage by checking and stopping leaks in taps and appliances that use water. A leaking tap can waste over 2,000 liters of water a month, and it can also cost you hundreds of dollars in your water bill.
3. Buy water-efficient appliances
Opt for a dishwasher with a 3-star rating that requires 18 liters of water per load instead of the usual 40 liters. You can also consider installing showerheads with a triple “A” rating that can provide you with a great shower and save you about 10 liters of water per minute.
4. Practice water-conserving methods of growing your plants
Use a sprinkler instead of a hose in watering plants. A drip irrigation system will also reduce wastage because water only goes to areas where it is needed. In addition, you might want to consider growing drought-tolerant plants that can grow without too much water.
5. Apply effective methods in saving pool water
Avoid overfilling pool water, so the skimmer will not end up working inefficiently or wasting water. You should also use a pool cover that will prevent rapid evaporation of water.
6. Clean your backyard without using a hose
Never use a hose in cleaning your patio, driveway, and garage. Instead, use a rake, vacuum, or broom to tidy up these areas while saving water.
7. Install water-saving mechanisms in your toilet
A multi-flush or dual-flush device allows you to minimize the amount of water that is wasted. You can choose the button that releases the water level for flushing down solid or liquid wastes.
8. Turn off the tap when washing your face
You waste 9 liters of water for every minute that you leave the tap on when not in use. Consider using a mug when brushing your teeth or a basin when rinsing your face, so you do not end up wasting water.
9. Use the washing machine and dishwasher
If you only have a few dishes to clean, wash these under the sink instead of using the dishwasher. You can save water and energy by applying this practical tip. In the same way, use the washing machine when you have enough for a full load.
10. Add mulch to your garden
Mulch helps the soil retain moisture, so there is no need to water the plants frequently. This is a smart way to keep your plants healthy, save time and effort in watering, and prevent wastage of water.
By Lucas Swart & Joss Lace