Saturday, 17 February 2018

Defeating Day Zero

It is now (finally) common knowledge worldwide that Cape Town is in the third year of a devastating and debilitating drought that has us staring Day Zero (when municipal water will be shut off) head on.

Image result for theewaterskloof dam
Theewaterskloof Dam - Cape Town's primary source of water - as it looks at the moment

I posted on water saving tips last year (click here to read the post), and thought it would be good to compare what our household is currently doing under Level 6b water restrictions (using no more than 50L per person per day).

Washing Wisely: we are currently washing in buckets of less than 5L water, often sharing this water for the kids, and taking a 90 second shower only every other day. I wash my hair over a bucket in the bath using water caught from a shower, and rinse with the cleaner water caught when the shower water was warming.

Saving Grey Water: we save all bath, shower, washing and other used water, and flush the toilets using this water. We have banned the flushing of toilets with municipal water, and flush using buckets because this uses up to half of the water a normal flush (from the cistern, even with grey water) would use.

If it's yellow, let it mellow... has gone to the next level, I tell you. I have three boys living in this house, so you can imagine the impact. We have a mixture of white vinegar, essence (any) and food colouring that that we 'treat' the toilet with after each wee, however, we only flush after a poo - once a day, if we can manage it - with grey water. We also, as far as possible, leave loo paper out of the toilet to reduce the risk of blockage. Needless to say, the budget for air freshener has increased.

Fully Loaded: water collection aside, one of the biggest adjustments at Day Zero will be having to do our washing from our daily allocation. We currently do no more than 6 loads of washing per month. We are extra careful about trying to keep our clothing clean, and only throw items into the laundry when it's become essential to do so. It's not always possible to fill our front loader with grey water, especially when we are using grey water faster than we are generating it, so to save in this area we wash our washing on the rinse cycle. This uses 60% less water than the eco cycle, and we are still able to catch the water for grey water use. We also do dishes only once a day, in minimal water, in a bucket in the sink so that, if possible it can be re-used or cast into the garden.

Glug and Gulp: We each take 1 - 2L water to school and work with us for drinking as most places have already turned off the public taps. We opt for take out packaging when eating out, and also use lunchboxes - even for school breakfasts and cooked lunches - which are returned home for us to wash there.

As a household we have never been big water users. Still, by consistently doing this - even without a storage tank (besides the cost factor, we don't have the space outside our home to erect one) any without collecting spring water - we have been able to remain below 6KL water per month throughout, despite having our family expand twice since the start of the drought.

For those who are not in Cape Town, I'd like to challenge you to try living under Level 6b water restrictions (click here for the full restrictions) for at least one weekend. To give you an idea of what 50L of essential use could look like:

Source: Eye Witness News

More than the mismanagement of resources, or developments in climate change, this drought has taught me not to take water for granted, brought to my attention the insane amount of clean drinking water we have wasted on non-essential things, and given me empathy for the plight of millions all over the world for which these restrictions (and more) are a daily reality. No one should have to live this way!

Please watch the video below, and do everything that you can to not only to save water in your own home, but also to support the efforts to provide water to all people.


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