Water Under the Bridge

Private Property South Africa
Doug Mattushek

Gone are the days when you could afford to put the sprinkler out on the lawn for two hours in the afternoon or run a long, hot bath until the water all but spilled over the top. With municipal rates having substantially increased over the past few years, South African residents are feeling the pinch. As a result water and energy saving techniques and devices, once considered overpriced gimmicks, are receiving more attention from the public.

One such system is the process of harvesting rainwater, which can be very useful in a number of ways. Refilling your pool during those long dry winter months is an expensive task. Since the water in the pool is treated with chemicals, there is no need to waste good drinking water and pay the municipality for filling up your pool. Rainwater can also be used to wash the car and irrigate the garden, tasks that often use a lot of water.

How does one collect rainwater you may ask? Well, it depends on the size and surface of your roof. A big roof understandably collects more water than a small roof. A corrugated tin roof is best for water run-off, while a tiled roof in less efficient, but still usable. Pipes are run from the gutters into a tank, were the water is stored. A small pump is fitted at the base of the tank which pressurises the water. There are various companies that install rainwater harvesting systems at very affordable prices. For starters, check out http://www.eco-h2o.co.za/ for some interesting advice and ideas.

Another water saving technique is the usage of grey water. Grey water is defined as water from baths, showers, hand basins, washing machines and laundries. While this water certainly isn’t clean, it is re-usable. Water from any other source (toilet water, kitchen sink and bidets) is considered black water. This must be allowed to proceed to the sewer to be treated by the sewerage treatment works.

A bath can use up to 80 litres and water, and when you’re finished with it, it all goes down the drain, along with your money. Grey water is the biggest contributor to water waste. At best, 33% of water consumed in the home is normally thrown away and at worst, perhaps 50%. It is outrageous that any municipality allows this precious source of good water to be thrown away. Grey water is very useful for two purposes: toilet flushing and irrigation purposes. Grey water storage systems can be installed that pump water to your cistern for use. For more information visit http://www.greywater.co.za/

It is time for us to re-think how we use water, and try our best to use it smartly and sparingly. Why don’t you set the standard for water saving in your neighbourhood? The welcoming effects would be felt on the environment as well as your pocket.

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