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Liesbeth van der Vossen

We all know the importance of water but how much is it something that we Western’s take for granted? Cape Town’s infamous water crisis is virtually impossible to ignore, but is that what we have been doing? Haven’t we all been ignoring the warning signs and hoping the problem will just vanish into thin air? In the space of a week, ‘Day Zero’ has moved 9 days forward from the 21st to the 12th of April. Unless Capetonians start significantly reducing their water usage by almost 25% (with immediate effect) the taps will run dry in just 77 days.

This is the worst drought the Western Cape has experienced in over 100 years. With less than half of all Capetonians using less than 87 litres of water a day, drastic actions will need to be taken to ensure all citizens are consuming no more than 50 litres per day as of the 1st of February. Zille feels that Day Zero can still be avoided ‘by the skin of our teeth’ if every consumer complies with the 50l limit. With this in mind, I think it’s now more important than ever to priorities strict water usage in our daily lives. Let’s look at the many ways in which we can save water around the home…

  1. ONLY flush the toilet when necessary. Revert to the ‘if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down’ rule.
  2. Shower for ONLY 2 MINUTES MAXIMUM and switch it off between lathering and rinsing. A regular shower uses on average 15 litres of water per minute!!! Alternatively, why not half your water bill by using an eco-friendly shower head.
  3. Collect your shower water in a bucket and use this to flush your toilets, water your plans and wash your car.
  4. No filling up of swimming pools. Why don’t you go to the beach to top up that tan instead!
  5. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. Fill a small cup with water instead and you could save 6 litres of water a minute!
  6. Aim to wash your dishes by hand in one load and avoid using the dishwasher.
  7. Avoid doing small loads of laundry and try to wash your clothes by hand in the water you have collected from the shower!

But it’s not all doom and gloom! Let’s reflect on some of the amazing acts of creativity, determination and hard work which every day Capetonians have demonstrated during this struggle.

  • Stellenbosch University developed a Smart Meter System which has been implemented across schools in the Western Cape and has helped them cut their water usage by 80%.
  • The Westin Hotel has saved 1 million litres of water a month by ensuring their guests cut back their water consumption.
  • Keanu Arendze and his team are currently developing a water monitoring sensor which will be able to calculate the volume of water used in an office. In the future, they hope to apply their technology in the agricultural sector.

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