Water scarcity has been a concern of many nations across the world, including South Africa. It’s been of such a concern that we sadly found ourselves in the situation where the City of Johannesburg has been instructed by the Department of Water and Sanitation to reduce its water usage by 15%. Placing Gauteng at a Level 2 water use restriction.  It should be noted that this restriction has been in place since November 2015.  The city is however adding a water restriction tariff to all domestic use as of September 2016.  This may just be what we need to save water.

What this means to us, the domestic users

The Level 2 Water Restriction states the following:

  • Not to water and irrigate your garden from 6am and 6pm every day.
  • Not to fill your pool with municipal water.  And if you use borehole water you should advertise it.  I suppose so your neighbour know where your get the water from;)
  • Not to use hosepipes to wash your cars, pavements, est.  Use a bucket, you save a lot of water.

This extra water restriction tariff will be only charged after your initial 20 kiloliters of water.  Making this more than understandable as the average household hardly exceeds 20kiloliters of water per month, considering our drought situation.

How much water do I use?

The back of your Council bill will give you a breakdown of your rates and taxes.  You will find your water usage under “Water & Sanitation”.

The tariff increase will work in increments of 10% per extra 10 000 litres.

  • 0-6 Kiloliters = FREE
  • 6-20 Kiloliters = Charged as normal
  • 20-30 Kiloliters = 10%
  • 30-40 Kiloliters = 20%
  • > 40 Kiloliters = 30%

How to save on your water usage

1. Water Wisely

Watering your garden early in the morning, before the sun thinks of getting hot. Between 6-7am will be great.

2. Check your plumbing

Take a quick plumbing survey by making sure that all your tap leaks are sealed.  If possible replace your shower heads with low-flow shower heads, they use considerably less water. This might have a small initial cost, but it will save you money and water in the long run.

3. Keep it to 5min.

Keep your showers short and baths few. That old brick technique in the toilet can save you upto 40 liters per day.

Did you know?

  • A bath can take between 80-150 litres of water
  • A 1min of shower can takes up to 20 liters of water
  • A toilet flush takes 10 liters of water.  
  • 1 Drip every second can add up to 20 liters per day

4. Grey Water Systems

Consider investing in a grey water system.  You may still use municipal water for the shower, but with a grey water system you can reuse that shower water to water your garden.  Over 40% of Gauteng water usage is for Gardens. Re using your shower, bath and sink water and catching rain water is a great way to ensure you use less municipal water guaranteed.  

5. New Energy Star Appliances

Only use the dishwasher and washing machine for full loads.  Consider buying a New Energy Star appliances next time.  The new eco friedly appliances work far more effieciently, using less water and electricity.

New Energy Star rated appliance allow you to save between 35-50% water per load and 50% in energy cost.

6. Water friendly plants

Consider investing in low maintenance/ water-wise gardening and plants this summer.  These plants aren’t just strong survivors, that will make your gardening easier, they require far less water as well.  It is also the obvious choice for reselling.  

7. Permaculture, they future

Consider educating yourself in permaculture.  This ingenious, yet simple and cheap manner of gardening and farming will allow you to have a low maintenance, well kept garden that will require most probably no more water than your grey water system will provide.  Costing you less than the present and costing the municipality nothing.  

Permaculture is the future for our farmers as well us as consumers in understanding how to work with nature and not against it. Making use of every drop of water and mineral gathered.  They have simple techniques like putting a layer of mulch under your plants.  This layer of mulch will prevent the water from evaporating as fast, allowing your early morning watering to go much further.  Leading us to point 8….

8. Only water your garden when needed

This is a general drought statement, but by applying permaculture techniques you will even find that you need to water your garden less, as over watering is easily achieved.  The mulch technique with a drip irrigation system truely works.  Try a small patch in yout garden as an experiment, you will not be dissapionted;)

Signs of overwatering your plants

  • Wet and Wilting. It looks wilted, but the soil is wet. …
  • Brown Leaves. If the leaves turn brown and wilt, there is the possibility that you have been overwatering. …
  • The third sign that your plant has been overwatered is edema. …
  • Yellow Falling Leaves …
  • Root Rot

9. Design your garden according to your water requirements

Group plants with the same environmental requirements.  This may seem obvious, but how many of us actually look at how much water some plants require.  By grouping your low water plants together you’re making sure that you don’t cause root rot (from overwatering) because you have a few plants in the mix that require more water.  

Read the label and ensure you provide the correct environment.  Instead of just buying any pretty flower, consider buying the correct flower for your yard, light, temperature and water conditions.  You will be surprised how suddenly you become a green thumb member, by simply obeying our green leafes wishes:)

10. Be logical and consider that every little bit matters.  

  • When brushing your teeth, or washing your face consider closing the tap. You can save up to 6 liters per min
  • When washing your car, consider using a bucket instead of a hosepipe
  • When filling the sink with hot water, catch the cold water for latter (gardening) use.
  • When rinsing the dishes, do so in a closed sink, not under a running tap (no matter how small)

The JMPD have been requested to police compliance. Residents can report non-compliance by phoning 011 758 9650.

I do want to urge you all to take part as much as you can by simply trying to keep a conscious mind about your water usage.  With a bit of research and a few changes you will be surprised by how much you can save

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Written by Lizl Brink, Lizl is copywriter and designer based in Johannesburg, she is also a frequent contributor to the Mafadi blog, and as an Urban investor and rejuvenation shares a passion for urban regeneration, go check out her personal portfolio here
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