Water talk

Mandy von Willingh, secretary, Strandfontein Social and Economic Development Forum

I would like to commend the Plainsman for dedicating several pages of last week’s issue to the water crisis (“City didn’t give a dam”, “A taste of Day Zero at the spring”, “When what goes up never comes down”, “The time for daydreaming is over”, “Plastic, glass, stainless steel – what is best for storing water?”, Plainsman, January 24).

Not only were the articles well written they were also objective and informative.

At this stage I think we all know that much has gone wrong and that everyone is blaming each other and their cat for the crisis we are in but nobody has thus far sought to educate the public on exactly how we can save water.

I am aware there were editorials and articles but nobody actually thought to inform the masses in a step-by-step guide on how to save water (Probably the biggest blunder by the City of Cape Town).

People are not informed about how much water their dishwashers and automatic washing machines are using, they are also not aware that each flush uses about 10 litres of water.

I for one had no idea how much water my 13kg auto washing machine took, and how much water fills a cistern and goes down your loo in one flush, etc. The proverbial out of sight out of mind scenario.

All we’ve been hearing was to not waste water.

Well I thought I wasn’t wasting, no lawn watering or washing of cars, everyone’s shower time was cut drastically with my youngest daughter being the water warrior by listening outside the bathroom door and admonishing anyone who went over the time limit, until I realised “not wasting” does not exactly equate to “saving” water.

I discovered this when I took my washing machine pipe out of the outlet pipe that leads to the drain and put it in my bath. I also manipulated the settings to only rinse once instead of the two or three times most brands rinse. I was shocked to find a full bath of fairly clean greyish water (mostly white/light coloured washing in the first load), I then decided to do my second load of darker laundry with the same water.

I used the bucket system to fill my machine with water and washed the second load exactly as I did the first.

The water was now of course dirtier, and perfect for the cistern.

I used the water to fill up about 20 X 5L cans which are easy for my kids to lift if they need to refill the cistern.

The sewage tap has of course been turned off.

It was quite a celebration in my house when we discovered that the water from my two loads of weekly washing lasts for about a week in the cistern.

I hope the column will be a weekly one with community members sharing their water saving ideas on how we can all avoid Day Zero.

Thanks for your positive feedback.

The Water Watch column, written by reporter Fouzia van der Fort, will be a regular one and readers are invited to email their comments, tips and views to her at fouzia.vanderfort@inl.co.za – Editor.