Get with the programme

Conserving water is not just the job of the country’s government departments and provincial authorities.

Each household can make a significant difference to both the quality and quantity of this most precious of resources by adopting simple conservation principles at home and in the workplace.

Simple maintenance of dripping taps, for example, can make a huge difference to water usage over long periods of time. Worn washers and slow drips can waste up to 70 litres a day.

Likewise, making sure appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines are full to capacity before using them and then selecting short economy cycles can significantly reduce water usage.

Another way of saving water is by recycling it directly by using bath, shower and laundry water to irrigate your garden.


Known as “grey water”, water from baths, showers, hand basins and washing machines can be directly recycled with a range of affordable commercially available systems.

The average bath uses around 120 litres of water and a shower approximately 80 litres, so the amount of water saved is significant.

The one major drawback with grey water is that it cannot be stored because it is a breeding ground for anaerobic bacteria that produce methane and hydrogen sulphide.

Low-flow, water-saving shower heads and aerating tap fittings are also widely available, helping to reduce the amount of water you use each day.

A long, hot shower can use up to 40 litres of water a minute, so taking shorter showers with a low-flow device that uses less than 10 litres of water a minute makes a significant saving.

A simple thing like shortening your shower by one minute can save up to 20 000 litres a year.

Toilets use around 20 litres of water for each flush. This can be reduced by placing a housebrick in the cistern or changing your cistern to a low, or “half”, flush model.

Also, a lot of toilets leak without you even realising it. To check for a leak, put food colouring into your cistern. If it seeps into the toilet bowl you have a leak and fixing it could save you up to 3 000 litres a month.

Turning off the tap while you are brushing your teeth or shaving can also make a huge difference to your water usage, as can rinsing washing-up in a sink of water rather than under a running tap.

Storing drinking water in your fridge rather than running the cold tap for ages to get the water nice and cool, especially in summer, is also a good tip for conserving water.

In the garden avoid watering in the hottest hours of the day as this is when the most water is lost to evaporation.

The best time for watering is early in the morning and in the early evenings or at night.

If you have a borehole, consider using it to run your washing machine and dishwasher, as well as watering your garden.

Water-saving methods such as these can help to reduce your total usage each month by up to 35%. This not just saves water but also money.

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Sharon Van Wyk
Guest Author

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