The Western Cape was declared a disaster area this week, with only 10% of usable water supply standing between us and “Day Zero” (when the taps run dry).

The City has started implementing emergency measures such as dredging of the Vöelvlei Dam and is engaging with National Department of Water and Sanitation on additional measures like dredging Theewaterskloof Dam.

But the main way to mitigate against this disaster is for every single Capetonian to drastically reduce water consumption. To this end the City is introducing Level 4 water restrictions which means potable water may now only be used for drinking, cooking and washing – aim to use under 100 litres per person per day.

Until now, the focus with water restrictions for many has been on compliance (if the household was not paying for water because it was using under the threshold then that was “enough”). But with the drought reaching such a serious point, the focus now needs to be on each household and business doing everything they can to save as much water as possible.

If you haven’t yet seen the Adam Spires video on Theewaterskloof Dam, then take a look (4’42”) – it really brings home the gravity of the situation:

YouTube video

Here are some key tips to achieve under 100 litres per day:

Change your routines

  • Only flush the toilet when necessary. Don’t use it as a dustbin. ‘If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down’. Let guests know this is what you are doing when they visit your home.
  • Take a short 2-minute shower. Turn off the tap while you soap up.
  • Collect the run-off shower and basin water in a bucket for re-use to flush your toilet.
  • Use hand sanitizer instead of washing your hands every other time you use the bathroom.
  • Defrost foods naturally or in the microwave, rather than using hot running water.
  • Use a cup instead of running taps in the bathroom when you brush your teeth or shave.
  • Wait for a full load before running washing machines and dishwashers.

Check your setup

  • If you have an older toilet with a large cistern place a brick or two inside the cistern to reduce the amount of water required with each flush
  • Fit a water-saving showerhead – the old-style showerheads can use as much as 16 litres per minute which is incredibly wasteful – the City has a bylaw requiring a showerhead that uses under 10 litres per minute.
  • Fit taps with aerators or restrictors to reduce flow to no more than 6 litres per minute, as per the City’s bylaw.

And, lastly – spread the word far and wide: SAVE WATER! If you have staff who clean your house or work in your garden make sure they are aware of your household water-saving measures too, talk to your colleagues at work about only flushing the loo every other time, turning off the air-conditioning in the building, and any other suggestions that will reduce water consumption.

For more tips on how to use less water and how to re-use water visit the CapeTalk #WaterWatch page as a starting point.


About MID:

The Muizenberg Improvement District [MID] is a geographic area where property owners have contracted to pay a levy to facilitate a joint effort by the City of Cape Town and the local community to ensure more effective management of public areas and to promote business confidence.The MID supplements normal municipal services provided by the City, using its funds to deal with public safety, enhance the environment and address social issues like vagrancy and finding workable solutions for the homeless. The Muizenberg Improvement District is a legal entity established under the City’s Special Rating Areas by-law and also governed by the South African Companies Act 2008.