How to survive the water crisis in the Western Cape


Water is one of our most valuable natural resources, but it’s slowly declining in South Africa and, in particular, the Western Cape, with Cape Town facing its worst drought in recorded history. As of 1 February, water restrictions in the city will be heightened, with an allowance of only 50 litres per person per day and punitive measures actioned against those ignoring the rules.

To help efforts to combat the drought in Cape Town, it is the resident's responsibility to adopt water saving schemes in their home, it is our responsibility to adopt water-saving schemes in our homes. Fortunately, conserving water doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. Making an effective change can have a significant decrease in your home’s water consumption level.

Help protect this precious resource for future generations with these easy-to-implement water preservation tips:

Bust bathroom water wastage

Look to your bathroom and toilet to boost your household’s water efficiency. Firstly, check all taps to make sure they aren’t leaking as even small drips add up over time if ignored. If you don’t have basic plumbing knowledge, call in a professional plumber to fix the problem.

It is essential to reduce your shower time to less than two minutes and you are urged not to bath. Really ramp up your water-saving efforts by placing a bucket in the shower to collect excess water. This greywater can then be used to flush toilets. Restrictions are placed on watering the garden or washing the car as these are not considered priorities during drought crisis.

In fact, up to 80% of indoor domestic water can be re-used safely as greywater if used within 24 hours. Only re-use waste water that has been used during body and hand washing from showers and bathroom basins. Water from toilets, pools, kitchen sinks and dishwashers are not considered greywater and must not be re-used. For more information on greywater you can visit this insightful page:

Did you know that flushing in Cape Town is currently minimized to one flush per person per day? The saying ‘If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down’ should be applied every time you use the toilet. A flush of an old toilet can use up to 13 litres at a time, with newer models using half this amount. In either scenario, in times of severe drought, flushing should be minimised to save water.

Keep the kitchen water-savvy

The appliances in your home that use the most water are the washing machine and dishwasher. This is heightened if they are old as the water and energy efficiency rating in outdated models is likely lower than in newer models.

In fact, washing machines purchased today hold 20% more laundry than they did in 2000, yet they use even less water. Water usage in dishwashing machines has decreased too, with the average amount of water used in a normal cycle having decreased by more than 41% from 2005.

If your machines are new, you can still save water by always filling both to load capacity as well as choosing the economy cycle.

Not all sources of water leaks are immediately visible so it is important to check your water meter to discover any hidden leaks. You can do so by stopping all water usage, taking a meter reading and then taking another reading 15 minutes later. If there is a difference in the two readings, then you have a leak that will need to be seen to by a plumber. This water meter diagram will guide you during this process:

Even if your city is not directly affected, we should all be working towards using water in our households wisely.