Seniors do their bit to save water

Irene Murray, 72, from Strandfontein, pours grey water down her cistern.

Strandfontein pensioners are doing their bit to limit water usage and keep their municipal bills low.

Errol, 68, and Jenny,64, Philander saved 3 000 litres of water in a month and won the grand prize in the Young Ideas Seniors’ Club water-saving competition at their year-end lunch on Thursday November 30.

The Philanders and a boarder on their premises use a number of measures to save water.

They have placed buckets all around the house to catch water from the gutters.

Ms Philander said they do not open their taps during the day.

They buy water and pour just enough in the kettle to make single cups of tea.

It was in April that Young Ideas Seniors’ Club secretary Bernie Clarke, who works in the office of ward councillor Elton Jansen, started talking to members about their property rates, water restrictions and the need to limit expenditure.

“At first the members shook their heads and refused to believe they could save water. Week by week we spoke about tips and things to try out at home,” she said.

Ms Clarke said talking and having informal conversations was different to hearing or reading about water restrictions. “There was a woman, who said her washing machine was automatic and therefore she could not catch the grey water.

“I then said to her, go home and just see if you can undo your pipe,” said Ms Clarke.

The club then decided to host a competition, as an incentive, looking at members’ municipal bills and plotting the decrease in water use, from September until the end of November.

The woman with the automatic washing machine, Irene Murray, 72, eventually ended up saving
10 000 litres of water in one month.

Ms Murray told the Plainsman her family was initially sceptical about whether she could save water.

“It was hard work but at the end of the day it had to be a family affair,” she said.

There are six adults in the Murray residence and Ms Murray had to try different ways to get her family on board but when they saw the municipal bill decreasing they were more inclined to help.

It takes about 100 litres of water to do a load of washing. Ms Murray does two loads a week, first the whites and then she reuses the grey water to do the colours.

The grey water is stored in drums and five-litre bottles, which are kept in the toilet, and used to fill the cistern for flushing.

A bucket in the shower catches cold or excess water and the family members time themselves using a two-minute song to mark washing periods.

It takes about nine litres of water to flush a toilet.

According to the City of Cape Town if it is yellow, let it mellow, which is what the Murray household is doing to save water.

Ms Murrary’s bill at first was at 22 000 litres at a cost of R846.83 at August 14.

She now has a bill of R313.83 for the use of 10 000 litres of water. “Yes, we have saved water but I am still trying,” said Ms Murray.