Water saving tips

Jan Bentley, Somerset West

I refer to last week’s Bolander which gave much needed prominence to the various tips on how we can save water, and also the dangers of utilising tap water in our gardens.

Let us examine the current source of our water.

At present, other than well points and boreholes, the City of Cape Town water supply is restricted to the five dams, which are well below normal capacity, and these are replenished only by rainfall in the catchment areas, or by diverting water from adjacent rivers.

With global warming and changes in weather patterns there is a distinct possibility that these dams may not ever be capable of supplying Cape Town’s increasing water need.

What can be done ? Construct a desalination plant or tap into the underground aquifer Both long term and very expensive projects but there are two additional cheap sources of non potable water.

Make more use of rainwater falling on the thousands of roofs in the city.

Be it a small township house, an up-market home or a large commercial factory, the water catchment area is enormous and all we have to do is store it, and then use that, as necessary.

This can be in small 100 litre buckets in a township house,
10 000 litre tanks in an up-market home, or underground reservoirs in commercial buildings.

I have read that a roof area of 100square meters with 5ml of rain falling on it will give a run-off of 5000 litres if the building is properly equipped with efficient gutters.

Assume we have one million buildings in Cape Town, with an average roof size of 100 square meters, this would yield 50 million litres of water.

Many countries in the world and in the drier areas of this country use this simple, non- expensive method of collecting rain water.

I am horrified to see new buildings being built in Cape Town with no gutters, so when it rains all this water falls onto the ground and is wasted, with possible damage to the building foundations.

I have spoken to the City of Cape Town’s building department, and they state that gutters on buildings are no longer a requirement.

Previously, water came down the gutter downpipe in specific areas, where it was fed into storm water gulleys, draining water, away from the building foundations.

Look at the apart-ments recently built adjacent to the N2 by various developers, with no gutters.

It should be a City by-law that all new buildings have a water storage system in their building plan, be it underground or in tanks, before it is approved.

These large under-ground tanks, of a hundred thousand litres, will be filled rapidly after a few showers.

With no loss due to evaporation, and simple filtering and possibly chemical treatment, this water could possibly be potable.

What happens to all the rain water falling on the tarred and concreted hard areas of the city?

What happens to the water flowing in the small streams traversing the city? We live so close to the sea, so the majority of it is not used, and it flows into the sea.

Why not construct small catchment ponds which reduce the flow of run-off water? This non- potable water can then be pumped out and used on agricultural gardens, and with a simple filtration scheme, for many other factory uses.

An example near my property in Bizweni Avenue, Somerset West: A large catchment hole was constructed to help in the flood control plan

At the moment, there is a substantial amount of water from the Louwrens River flowing down the channel.

Why can’t we manually close the small outlet, let the water fill up and then use it on the municipal gardens?

I have put forward these suggestions to our local councillor because I know they work well and are cheap to implement, in the hope that he can bring them to the relevant City powers who could implement them or at least come up with suitable alternatives to an increasingly very urgent problem.

Anja van der Kroon, Gordon’s Bay

In response to last week’s Bolander edition with an invitation to send in more water saving tips:

Leave a bucket or bowl in your sink for rinsing cups or washing hands over it.

You will be amazed how fast it fills up and makes you aware of how much water gets wasted on rinsing cups, cutlery, etc.

It can be used for flushing the toilet or watering the garden. An older type toilet uses 12 litres of water per flush, and newer- style toilets use between three and five litres.

Attach an extending hose to the drainage hose of your washing machine and reuse.

Nowadays most laundry detergents are free of fosfates and can safely be used for watering lawns and gardens. I know from experience that your garden will thrive on it.

Wash with a face washer instead of showering. Only shower when hair needs shampooing. You will save between 30 and 50 litres. Multiply this by the number of users in your household.

No need to have your geyser heating contineously either. Just 30 minutes prior to showering does the trick.

Sit together with your friends and family and be a thinktank of smart ways to save even more water and energy.

You will also be rewarded by a lower waterbill at the end of each month.

Many other countries have and are still battling with the same problems.Think of Australia, India, the USA, Canada, etc.

To find out more about their energy saving programmes, just Google “Energysaving tips”.

No need to reinvent the wheel, after all.

Together as a community we must make an effort to make the difference.