go! Platteland - - COMPOSTING TOILETS -

Way back in 1976, Bri­tish writer and ad­ven­turer John Sey­mour wrote a book called The New Com­plete Book of Self-Suf­fi­ciency: The Clas­sic Guide for Real­ists and Dream­ers, de­scribed as a guide for real and wannabe “down­shifters”. Aside from a host of prac­ti­cal tips and use­ful in­for­ma­tion gar­nered from years of ex­pe­ri­ence on farms and small­hold­ings, he came up with this thought-pro­vok­ing para­graph: “The flush toi­let is one of the great­est sins of mod­ern man… It is a re­mark­ably ex­pen­sive way to pol­lute fresh drink­ing wa­ter, while at the same time wast­ing the very nu­tri­ents that are es­sen­tial to main­tain fer­til­ity in the soil. One pull of the lever and the waste be­comes some­body else’s prob­lem.”

Sey­mour had a point. Ac­cord­ing to Rand Wa­ter’s WaterWise web­site, flush toi­lets ac­count for a stag­ger­ing 73% of wa­ter us­age in low-in­come house­holds, and 37% in mid- to high-in­come house­holds (no one ap­pears able to ex­plain the dif­fer­ence).

It’s clearly a big prob­lem, not least in this coun­try. Our planet ex­pe­ri­ences an av­er­age rain­fall of 985mm a year, whereas South Africa re­ceives just 492mm, or about half the global av­er­age – so we are of­fi­cially clas­si­fied as a wa­ter­stressed coun­try.

A fam­ily of four can use be­tween 300 and 800 litres of wa­ter in the home per day, ac­cord­ing to Rand Wa­ter – a very large amount con­sid­er­ing that many peo­ple else­where in the world use as lit­tle as 25 litres per per­son per day. In the­ory, says Rand Wa­ter, this makes it en­tirely pos­si­ble to con­duct daily tasks such as clean­ing, cook­ing, bathing, drink­ing and flush toi­lets with only twoand-a-half buck­ets of wa­ter a day.

By all ac­counts, the wa­ter shortage prob­lem is get­ting worse. In late Septem­ber 2016, the De­part­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion urged all sec­tors of the pop­u­la­tion to come up with “ap­pro­pri­ate pre­pared­ness plans” at all lev­els of the wa­ter sup­ply chain to prevent the coun­try’s dams from run­ning com­pletely dry.

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