Change attitude towards water use
DURING a chilly day at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg recently, Marisa Gerards, the Netherlands ambassador to South Africa proclaimed: “You will never know the value of water until the world is dry”.
This was during the Water Valuing Regional Consultation, a UN High Level Panel on Water initiative.
I may not be far off to assume that most Capetonians, if not all dwellers of the Western Cape, echo her profound sentiments. This is more particularly now that the province has been declared a Disaster Area and due to the calamitous situation there – Level 4 of water restrictions having been introduced. This means residents are not allowed to water their gardens, wash vehicles or top up swimming pools with potable water.
According to media reports, the City of Cape Town is in discussions with magistrates about a new fines structure.
Eye Witness News reported that mayoral committee member for water and waste services Xanthea Limberg said they had hired additional staff for its water inspectorate.
“They will be going out and doing the enforcement. We are working on further capacitating our call centre and water work team and have allocated initial staff there.”
Limberg said the city was aiming to reduce collective usage from 666 million litres per day to 500 million.
On average, South Africans are notorious for using 340 litres of water daily which is more than the global average. This is despite the fact that South Africa is ranked the 30th driest country in the world and 3rd in Africa.
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is another metro at the receiving end of the devastating drought that is ravaging some parts of the country and continent.
A few weeks ago, it was also declared a Disaster Area due to the unrelenting drought.
The dam levels in the City of Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay are lingering at below 20% and just above 30% respectively, something of undesirable proportions.
Even though there is still hope of some winter rain for the residents of the Western Cape which is generally known to get some rain in winter, the same cannot be said about Nelson Mandela Bay and it could find itself in dire straits.
Government can talk and come up with slogans until it runs out of ink, but if water users do not come to the party, the status quo will remain as is, or even get worse.
The Department of Water and Sanitation, along with some municipalities, has been running lots of campaigns, urging people to save water.
However, all these campaigns would be futile if there is no co-operation from water users themselves.
A lot of options are available to ensure that water resources are not wasted but conserved.
Re-use of water is one option that is available for every household to avoid using clean and drinking water for things such as irrigation, flushing toilets and dampening down dust.
Grey water is made up of bath, shower, bathroom sink and washing machine water. Water experts advise against using kitchen water as this is damaging to plant life because of fat content.
With the world’s population exploding on the one hand and our access to water diminishing on the other, recycling water at home so you can use it again makes common sense. In fact, with global weather patterns changing as a result of carbon emissions it’s fast becoming a necessity.
There is a famous saying that we can all live without love but we cannot live without water.
I suspect all those affected by shortages never though that this day would come.
For all our sakes, let us all change our attitudes and behaviours towards water usage. Communicator at the Department of Water and Sanitation.
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PARCHED EARTH: A drought has hit parts of George, Mossel Bay, Sedgefield, Knysna, Albertinia and Riversdale.