There is absolutely nothing slow about the Slowveld’s somersault from winter directly into high summer this year, which has left poor old spring to wither away behind us alongside our discarded boots, coats and scarves. Yay. What could be better than the sensation of silky, fragrant evening air slipping through open doors and windows, or waking up to cheerful sunshine and a concerto of uber jovial birds, eager to greet another day?
A drop of rain, is what. But instead of banging on about saving water, we’d like to tell you a story. So sit back with a cuppa (while water still emerges from the taps!) and enjoy the read.
Imagine, if you will, a town just a bit bigger than White River, idyllically placed with 180° views over a vast ocean. Unfortunately, the ditty ‘water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink’ best describes this lovely little spot. For nearly a year, residents and businesses have wrung every possible drop of water from where they can find it. The ruling powers that be were firm – “Cut your water consumption by 50%, or we’ll cut off the town.”
And the good citizens obliged. Cold water run off the hot tap is saved for washing up. Plastic bowls have been placed in sinks and basins to gather every drip. Shower water is collected in buckets and used to flush toilets. Cars are unwashed, gardens have drooped and then folded back into the earth. Clothes are worn several times before being washed. Hosepipes coiled and packed away.
A water management company sells recycled water which can be used for swimming pools, construction and gardens for those determined to do what it takes to maintain a green corner.
It was especially difficult over December, when the town flooded with holidaymakers and broiled under the sun, but the positive, wheel-to-the-shoulder approach by all the citizenry to save water enabled the council to keep the water supply going throughout peak season and the following winter.
Finally, hallelujah, a spring gift. Thanks to the responsible actions of everyone, the restrictions are lifted and life goes back to normal. Although probably not, as new conservation habits have formed and the community has knitted together.
Would it surprise you to learn that this is not a fairy story but a true account of Ballito, KZN? See for yourself http://northcoastcourier.co.za/58873/water-restrictions-make-the-difference/ and https://myballito.co.za/no-more-water-restrictions-in-durban/
Mbombela and Bushbuckridge, along with many other places around the country, are on Level 2 water restrictions, and what this means for you is:
- No garden watering or irrigating between 06h00 and 18h00
- Swimming pools may not be filled with municipal water
- No washing or hosing down of hard-surfaced or paved area with municipal water
- Washing of vehicles allowed only with hosepipes fitted with automatic self-closing devices
- Ornamental water fountains / water features to be operated only by recycling the water
But we can do better than this, so lets adapt where we can before the powers-that-be turn heavy and throttle our supply, or demand huge savings of us with extortionate penalties for non-compliance. As the Vaal Dam drops below 35%, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni have put in place 15% savings with substantial fines for offenders, including borehole owners. Our White River dam levels are lingering in the doldrums themselves, with Da Gama the fullest at 56% while Primkop is a puddle of it’s usual self at 22%. Council is asking residents to play the game and save water everywhere they can.
Let your dusty car be a badge of Responsible Citizenship Honour, and if you have to wash it, go one better than the minimum requirements and use a bucket. Isolate a small area of your garden to save, and use your grey water to keep it going. The rest will come back when the heavens finally open and after all, brown is the new green! Collect every possible drop of water and use it – toilet flush, washing dishes and hands, car wash etc.
Treat every litre as if it were gold. Because one day, you may be swopping ingots for water.
Report leaks to the call centre 0861 68 6623