With level-three water restrictions underway in the Western Cape, households could face higher water bills as the city implements a stepped tariff billing system based on the amount of water each household consumes.
While the first six kilolitres of water will still be free, thereafter residents will be charged per kilolitre depending on their usage, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “The tariff will start at R16.54 per kilolitre, with households that use between 20 and 35 kilolitres paying as much as R40.96 per kilolitre. The new tariffs will come into effect next month in December. If consumers want to keep their water bills at a minimum, they will need to adhere to the restrictions and find additional ways to reduce their water consumption,” advises Goslett.
He notes that as the temperatures rise it will be ever more important to reduce water usage to ensure that the precious resource is sustained. It will be imperative to keep water consumption consistent to winter levels during the hotter months to ensure that the dam levels do not reach critical measures. Currently, the major dams that provide Cape Town with water are down by 10% when compared to the same period last year.
“Water is a vital commodity that we require in order to survive. Without water, the environment we live in could not survive, so it is imperative that the necessary precautions are taken to ensure that this essential resource is not used carelessly,” says Goslett.
He says that from the start of this month households will be asked to adhere to the following restrictions:
- Residents are urged to install water-efficient parts, fittings and appliances to minimise water usage at all water points such as taps, showerheads and other plumbing components.
- Pools can be manually topped up, provided the pool has a cover. Automatic top-up systems will be prohibited.
- The use of portable play pools will not be allowed.
- Residents will only be allowed to water their gardens with either a bucket or watering can. The use of hosepipes and sprinkler systems will be prohibited. Watering or irrigation is not allowed 24 hours after saturating rainfall; this includes households making use of boreholes, treated effluent water, spring water or well points. South Africans consume an estimated 30% to 50% of water on watering and maintaining their gardens, so it seems that this is the most significant area for water to be saved.
- Vehicles and boats can only be washed using a bucket.
- Hard or paved surfaces cannot be washed or hosed down, other than for health purposes.
- Ornamental water features such as fountains can only be used if the water is recycled or non-potable.
In addition, Goslett says that there are several other ways that residents can save water in and around the home, which will bring down monthly water bills and more importantly, reduce water usage. He provides a few tips that will assist people in lessening their impact on the water crisis:
Ensure that after use, a tap is closed properly. Although a relatively small thing to do, a tap dripping at one drop per second will waste as much as thirty litres of water in one day. This equates to around 10 000 litres of water wasted over a period of a year, simply from one single dripping tap.
Replace tap washers regularly and fit aerators to restrict and spread the flow. An aerator will reduce water usage creating a no-splashing stream and often delivering a mixture of water and air. Remember to turn off the tap when brushing teeth. This will save around twenty litres of water per month. A mug of water can be used to rinse the toothbrush after use.
Showering uses less water than bathing, provided the shower is less than 5 minutes long. If there is only the option of taking a bath, it should be as shallow as possible and the water reused in the garden.
Ideally when showering the water should be turned off when soaping or shaving. When opting to shave at the basin, it is best to plug the basin rather than rinsing the razor with running water. This will save approximately 45 litres of water a month.
A leaking toilet can waste vast amounts of water. A few drops of food colouring in the cistern will help to determine if any water is leaking from the toilet – if the system is leaking it should be fixed without delay. Adding a brick or sealed container of sand to the cistern will reduce the amount of water used during each flush.
Only use washing machines and dishwashers when they are fully loaded. Rather than rinsing dishes under running water, opt to rinse items in a basin and then reuse the water in the garden. When waiting for dishwater to heat up, run the tap into bottles to use as drinking water. By keeping bottles of drinking water in the fridge, there is no need to let lukewarm water be wasted when waiting for the tap water to cool.
Choose the right plants
Select indigenous plants as they will generally consume less water and require minimal maintenance. Adding mulching and water retention granules to the soil to the garden beds will substantially reduce water usage. Watering should only be done either in the morning or the evening.
Reduce lawn areas
Lawn maintenance requires a lot of water. Consider adding hardscaping features such as a paved or cobblestone footpath, which will reduce watering areas.
“Becoming water-wise is essential and not just because it will save on monthly household costs. It is important in order to protect and sustain a precious life-giving resource,” Goslett concludes.