UPDATE: Level 5 restrictions have now been implemented
With Cape Town moving from level 4 to level 5 water restrictions recently, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we all have to do whatever we can to save as much water as possible.
What do level 5 water restrictions mean? Well, besides more focus on pressure management, Mayor Patricia de Lille added, “There is now a new emphasis on capping excessive water use at the domestic household level and placing additional restrictions on the commercial sector.”
This means that the cap on individual homes will be at 20kl per month, with homeowners facing heavy fines between R5 000 – R10 000 if this limit is broken. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the hectic but necessary cutbacks, here’s how to easily use only 100l or less every day.
A breakdown of how to use 100l of water per day per person
Collect and use wastewater
- Instead of washing veggies in the sink, keep a shallow basin in the kitchen dedicated to the task. After washing your vegetables, use the leftover water to water your plants or flush the toilet.
- Keep a bucket in the bathroom. Use the bucket to collect water from the bath or shower while you wait for the water to get hot. You can also keep the bucket in the shower to catch any water that falls while you shower. Use the water to flush the toilet.
- Keep a jug in the bathroom near the basin. Use the bucket to collect water from the basin while you wait for the water to get hot. When we tested this, we noticed that leaving the cold water to run while waiting for hot water wastes 3 litres of water! Add the water to your bucket and use it to flush the toilet.
- Installing a greywater harvesting system can be expensive, but we’ve got a budget-friendly alternative that costs just R110! Attach the Slightly Greenish Water Warrior to your outlet pipes then connect a garden hose to the Water Warrior. This lets you direct waste water from your washing machine into the garden.
- Install a rain water harvesting system and use the water in the garden.
Easy ways to use less water
- Keep water in the fridge for drinking. This means you don’t have to run the tap — and waste precious water — waiting for cool water.
- Make sure your dishwasher and washing machine are full before turning them on. There’s no point having a water-efficient appliance if you don’t use it properly!
- Before washing up or packing the dishwasher, scrape bits of leftover food off dishes instead of rinsing them.
- One of the best ways to save water is to install low flow shower heads (which use no more than 10 litres of water a minute). They’re inexpensive and can save a family of four up to 30 000 litres of water a year. Impressive!
- Turning off the shower while you wash your hair is one of the easiest ways to save water. In fact, one person can save 550 litres of water a month just by switching off while you lather up.
- Incentivise the kids to have shorter showers. Time them and offer rewards if they meet their target for a whole week.
- By now we all know that we should be turning off the water while we brush our teeth, but turning the water off while we soap up our hands is another zero effort way to save water.
- If you have an older toilet, place a bottle filled with water or a brick in the cistern.
- Only flush the toilet when absolutely necessary — and definitely don’t flush tissues, rather throw them in the bin.
- Fit taps with aerators or restrictors to reduce the water that comes out of your taps to no more than 6 litres per minute.
Make the most of wastewater in your garden
- Our top tip is to mulch, mulch, mulch. Put a nice thick layer of plant matter on top of all your beds to help slow water evaporation. It doesn’t matter what you put down — think grass cuttings, wood chips, pebbles or even pine needles.
- Leave all clippings in flower beds and rake grass cuttings around plants — it’s the lazy girl’s way of mulching and one of the easiest ways to save water by far.
- When you cut your grass, set your mower to leave the grass a little longer. Taller grass shades roots and helps keep moisture in.
- If you’re really looking for ways to save water, consider replacing your grass. Pavers with water-wise ground cover planted between them will save water and look chic.
- Group plants with similar watering needs together. That way you won’t be wasting water on succulents while trying to keep your arum lilies alive!
- As far as possible, choose indigenous plants for the garden. Take it a step further and go for plants that are endemic to your area. Not only is this a great way to save water, but the plants are basically guaranteed to thrive because they’ve evolved to make the most of weather conditions in your area.
General tips for making sure you aren’t wasting water
- Keep an eye on your water bill, it’s often the first indication that you have a leak, especially if it’s an underground leak or caused by one of the garden taps.
- If you’re not sure whether you have a leak, a good way to check is to find your municipal water meter and make sure no water is being used inside your property. If the meter is still running when it shouldn’t be, you have a leak.
- Fix leaks — no matter how small. A tap that drips once every second adds up to nearly 20 litres a day, and often the fix is as simple as replacing the washer.
- Cover your pool with a solid cover. Not only will this save water by drastically reducing evaporation, it will also stop pesky leaves from falling in.
Read more: 10 of the best money-saving apps EVER!
*This post was updated on 20 October 2017