Time to think about water


It was National Water week in SA this past week, with International Water Day coming up on the 22, making March the month to focus on your water usage.

Living in the cities we tend to take access to clean water for granted. We have running water in our houses and we can simply turn on the tap and it’s there in apparent abundance. But we need to remind ourselves that we are actually part of the mere 20% of Africans who have the luxury of piped water directly into our houses.

We also need to remember that South Africa is a water stressed country, prone to droughts and predicted to suffer further water shortages in future – not only because we have a growing population needing access to our limited water resources, but also due to bad management practices, pollution and degradation of our water sources.

So what does this mean for you? Firstly you need to develop a big dollop of respect and gratitude for the water you have such easy access to. I realise this sounds like a rather soft/emotional/hippy-ish first step, but take a minute to think about it. People don’t waste, abuse or ignore things they respect.

Then start to take some steps to reduce the amount of water you use.
Many tips don’t require you to spend a thing – you simply need to notice your habits and tweak them a bit. For example:

  • Don’t let the tap run while you are brushing your teeth or shaving. If you don’t believe that you waste a lot of water doing this, then try putting a measuring jug under the tap one morning and see exactly how quickly that jug fills up. Then you’ll realise how much perfectly clean drinking water you’re literally throwing down the drain.
  • Take shorter showers. You really do not need to be in there for 10 minutes singing at the top of your voice. You will save on electricity by adopting this new habit too.

Other options for water saving require spending a little money, but will definitely make a difference. Ideas include:

  • Install low-flow shower heads. I did this in our showers last year, and it does not make a difference to feeling of the shower which is what most people worry about. And it made a very noticeable difference to our electricity bill too, because you end up using much less hot water.
  • Install a water displacement device into your toilet’s cistern. Basically this is just something that reduces the amount of water that your cistern holds so that you aren’t flushing away so much water each time. In the good old days people like my folks just put a brick into the cistern, but these days you can get some pretty nifty devices that aren’t likely to damage the cistern in any way and are flexible so they wrap around the toilet devices.
  • Fix any leaks! That drip may look inconspicuous, but the wastage adds up fast. Put a bowl or bucket under the leak and you’ll see…

There are so many things you can – and should – do to use water wisely.
Here are a few links to other sites filled with water saving tips:

Header image by Chaim Zvi on Flickr