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Tips to conserve water effectively

Radio Islam News Team – 16/11/2015

As South Africa experiences one of the worst droughts in over 23 years, here are a few simple steps to help you play your part by saving water wisely.

The Importance of Conserving Water   
Clean, abundant water is one of this country greatest treasures and we are one of the countries in the world where water is just a few steps away, but are we doing enough to maintain quality water and the supply of that water?

Caring for our water is not just the business of government, it is everybody’s business. You will be surprised at how much water you waste in your home, but that can be controlled by examining your faucets, toilet bowls, shower heads, washing machines, dish washers, hoses and your personal habits.

Conserving water is going to mean that you make a personal decision to change your habits and your attitude towards water.

Detecting Leaks – Stop That Drip!
Leaks in your water system can account for up to 10% of your water bill. Check your entire system for leaks periodically by using the following steps:

• Locate the water meter and take the meter reading by noting the black and white numbers that record individual usage in cubic metres (m3).

• Wait at least 5 to 15 minutes without using water.  Look at the meter again and see if the numbers have changed.  If it has, there is a leak somewhere in your plumbing.  If the change is slight, then you might have a slow or intermittent leak.

•Waiting longer between readings (overnight, for instance) might help detect slow or intermittent leaks.  You can do this by reading your meter twice – first at night when everyone is finished using water for the day and then first thing in the morning before water has been used by anyone.

•Find the difference by subtracting the first reading from the second to calculate how much water (if any) leaked or passed though the meter overnight.

•To locate the leak, you will need to have both the outside and inside plumbing checked.

•Check every faucet for leaks.  Even a slow drip can waste up to 75 litres a day!

•Listen for gurgling or hissing sounds coming from your toilet.  These noises indicate that the flush ball needs to be adjusted to stop wasting water.

Faucets -Faucet aerators
These devices deliver a strong spray but help to control water consumption. They can be self-installed in all faucets and showerheads to increase spray velocity. Faucet aerators can reduce water use from your faucet by 50 percent.

Shower Heads   
Low-flow showerheads-These work by mixing air into the water flow (like an aerator), which is restricted to increase the water pressure. For the best efficiency, choose a low-flow showerhead with a shut-off valve. This allows you to turn off the water while soaping up and turn it back on instantly without readjusting the temperature. Shower water use can be reduced 50% with a low-flow showerhead, and can save up to 75708,236 litres of water per year!

Toilet Bowls 
Toilets are one of the greatest water users in the home.  Low-flow toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush and can reduce water use by 23-46%, compared to conventional models that use 3.5 to 5 gallons per flush.
Newer model toilet bowls come with low-flow systems.   If you are still using an old toilet, it might be a good idea to replace it with a newer model found at one of the stores specialising in toilet fixtures.
You should always keep check on your toilet to make sure that it is not leaking water all during the day as toilets can do this very easily while you complain of increase water bills.
Don’t flush oil, plastic, diapers, strong house-hold chemicals or anything that won’t decompose in water.

Washing Machines & Dish Washers  
When purchasing any such equipment check around for products with the best water saving system.  Dishwashers and washing machines are available with water-saving models and they can substantially reduce water consumption.

Saving Water in the Garden
Outdoor watering puts great demands on city water supplies and can quickly run up water bills. A few basic techniques will help you reduce the amount of water necessary to keep your lawn and garden green.  However, it is better to catch and store rain water for this purpose.
Water grass only when necessary and make sure to water accurately. The only thing that will grow when you water sidewalks and streets is the size of your water bill.
Water early in the morning as mid-day watering can burn plants and much of the water is lost to evaporation. Night time watering results in damaging fungus.
Use mulch [layer of material applied to the surface of an area of soil. Its purpose is any or all of the following: to conserve moisture] in your garden areas to keep soil moist and reduce evaporation.

Use low-water sprinklers. They don’t actually use less water, but they distribute the water via bigger droplets. Mists and fine-spray sprinklers lose lots of water to evaporation.   Position sprinklers properly – make sure the water lands on your plants and grass and not on paved areas. You can also use a timer on your sprinkler.


Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News, 2015-11-12


As the water crisis deepens across the country, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg has warned that communities will have to play a more active role in finding solutions to conserve water.

With the current heatwave expected to last at least until the end of the week and depleting water in reservoirs, level two water restrictions have been implemented by municipalities in Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

Level two water restrictions  forbids residents from filling their pools, washing cars, pavements or patios with hosepipes and watering gardens between 6am and 6pm.

Earthlife Africa’s Dominique Doyle says government should have reacted earlier to urge South Africans to conserve water.

“I don’t think we should be only looking at these water saving tips now. We should have been doing it for a very long time because if truth be told, South Africa and the Department of Water Affairs have known about this drought for quite some time, so we shouldn’t be in the situation that we are right now.”

Doyle says because the current drought is linked to climate change, the message from the Department of Water has always been South Africa will always have enough water if people don’t waste it.

“Even it does rain, this situation is not going to end because we are in a structural drought that’s only going to get worse as the years come on. Because as climate change starts to take effect, we are going to have longer drier periods and then when it does rain we are going to have these intense rainfall events that all the water is basically going to get washed away.”

Doyle says while households use a very little amount of water, municipalities, businesses, and industries should also shoulder some responsibility to conserve the precious resource.

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