Woodlands man shares water-saving tips

Mogamat Ganief Gamieldien, from Woodlands, stands at his water tanks on his car port roof, which collect up to 3 700l of water.

A Woodlands pensioner is saving water and only paying rates on his municipal bill every month.

Mogamat Ganief Gamieldien capitalised on last Thursday December 8 night’s rain, collecting more than 1 000 litres of water in more than a dozen 20 litre paint buckets, his bin and all available containers to catch rain.

In light of the City of Cape Town’s recent implementation of Level 3 water restrictions on Tuesday November 1 and tariff increases from Thursday December 1, Mr Gamieldien invited the Plainsman to see his water-saving initiatives first-hand..

The restrictions and bump in water costs are in line with the directive from the national Department of Water and Sanitation to reduce demand on the Western Cape water supply system by 20 percent.

Years before this Mr Gamieldien has been saving water in two water tanks on the roof of his garage and gutters leading water to drums on the ground.

Pipes from the tanks lead to the house’s cistern, a tank for storing water specifically supplying taps and to flush the toilet. “Not a drop of water is wasted,” said Mr Gamieldien.

All grey water and water after ablutions (wudhu – religious washing and brushing teeth) is caught in a bucket and used to water the garden.

For the last few months he has also been saving on his municipal bill, which shows a zero on the use of consumption charge for domestic use and the sewerage disposal charge.

His wife Nazlyi said they started saving water after they returned from hajj (pilgrimage) in 2007.

Their monthly bill cost on average R130, including rates and refuse charges.

Similarly, they have installed a geyser timer, which regulates the switching on of the geyser to limit the use of electricity and they have energy-saving bulbs.

Mr Gamieldien, who has a construction background, said he enjoys doing things he could not do before retirement.

All he asks is that more support is given to residents who are making an effort to save water.

Ernest Sonnenberg, the mayoral committee member for utility services, said while the City of Cape Town appreciates the willingness of residents to save water, there are no funds available to subsidise water-saving devices, rainwater tanks, or otherwise incentivise residents to save water.

Available funds are channelled into leak and burst prevention measures such as the City’s pipe replacement programme, pressure management schemes, and improving the response times for leaks and bursts.

“This is a more effective use of resources than subsidising water tanks. This programme has reduced the burst rate from 63.9 bursts per 100km of piping in the 2010/2011 financial year, to 31 bursts per 100km according to the latest statistics and saved millions of litres of water,” he said.

Mr Sonnenberg said residents who invest in water-saving technology and make an effort to save water in other ways will see the benefit in a lower water bill.

He further advised residents to check their plumbing for underground or non-visible leaks. Residents can confirm these leaks by closing all taps and informing everyone in the house not to use water until the test is finished.

Then wait 30 minutes to ensure the geyser and toilet cisterns are full. Read the water meter. If the red numbers are moving despite no water use at the property, then there is a water leak.

If there is a very slow leak the smallest red number will move very slowly. To observe this, water should not be used for a few hours.

A plumber should be called to repair any leaks.

Residents are also free to install boreholes, well-points, and rainwater harvesting systems on their properties.

Key enhanced restrictions on Level 3 for residential users, according to the City of Cape Town are as follows: Watering/irrigation (with drinking water from municipal supply) of gardens, lawns, flower beds and other plants, vegetable gardens, sports fields, parks and other open spaces is allowed only if using a bucket or watering container – the use of hosepipes or automatic sprinkler systems is allowed; cars and boats may only be washed with water from buckets; manual topping up of swimming pools is allowed only if pools are fitted with a pool cover.

No automatic top-up systems are allowed; and portable play pools are forbidden.

The tariff is designed so that the price per kilolitre of water goes up once the resident’s use for the month exceeds certain levels. For example – the first 6 kl (step 1) is free; after usage exceeds 6 kl, but before usage reaches 10.5 kl for the month (step 2), each kilolitre will cost R16.54 per kilolitre; after usage exceeds 10.5 kl, but before usage reaches 20 kl for the month (Step 3), each kilolitre will cost R23.54 per kilolitre; after usage exceeds 20 kl, but before usage exceeds 35 kl for the month (step 4), each kilolitre will cost R40.96/kl and so on.