In 2017, we all waited with baited breath as Cape Town dealt with a crippling water shortage. We saw videos of citizens lining up at natural springs, stockpiling water for what was promised to be a bleak few months of empty dams. Though they have managed to get their dam levels to a healthy place, the Mother City still has a way to go in ensuring that crisis doesn’t happen again.

Cape Town wasn’t the first city that came close to running out of water. Johannesburg currently operates under stringent water restrictions, taps in some villages of Limpopo run dry, while the entire Eastern Cape province is littered with towns parched for water. South Africa has a serious water crisis.

Just to reinforce something that sometimes tends to dilute (hem hem) the messaging; more rain doesn’t automatically equate to more usable water. When the proverbial heavens open up, we are assured that our lawns are hydrated – but that’s about it.

IF IT’S YELLOW, LET IT MELLOW

Trust me, I was cringing when this was implemented in my household – especially because it became clear that my partner doesn’t drink enough water. When I read to find that every flush drains roughly 13.5 litres of perfectly good water down the drain, though, the rule became a no brainer.

If the thought of this is really making you uncomfortable, flush after every 5th ‘yellow’ as a compromise. Consider stocking up on loo salt which bathroom users can sprinkle into the bowl after they’ve done their business, and it will help combat the aroma of ammonia.

SHOWER WITH A BUDDY

Autumn and winter are chilly months anyway, so if you haven’t got yourself a life-sized body warmer already, here is a great reason to find one. When you shower with someone, the pair of you save as much as 60 liters of hot water. Setting my support of couples showering together (because it strengthens intimacy levels) aside, it is such an effective yet effortless way of using less water.

WASH A FULL SINK OF DISHES

Put down the side plate and step away from the sponge, and wait until everyone is done eating! As someone who is as aggravated by a dirty dishes as the next pedantic individual, I can appreciate how difficult it will be to unlearn this habit, but running the tap for every glass, fork and collider that’s dropped into your sink is incredibly wasteful.

If you and your significant other are out all day, the breakfast dishes can wait until you’ve cooked and eaten dinner. Bigger families can adjust the cleaning schedule to suit their needs, but there is no reason to wash a separate set of dishes three times a day.

These days, dishwashers are kitted out with the most water efficient sprays that help you save up to 16 liters per wash. If you can afford to make the switch, I would suggest you do.

COOK IN BULK

While we’re in the kitchen, what stops you from making a big pot of soup once a week and storing it away until dinner time? The less you cook, the less dishes you’ll have to worry about when it comes time to clean up.

Reusing water is a tip I will give the more inventive foodies, as it requires the cook to have a certain level of confidence in the kitchen. I always use my pasta water when I’m making the accompanying sauce. It’s a cost-effective way of adding body and flavour to my sauce without having to use stock. You might reuse your rice water when you’re making pasta, and then again if you’re baking bread from scratch before getting rid of it. There are some wonderful recipes on the net you can follow that will guide you through making some fantastical water-wise foods.

CATCH WATER

You can use the run-off from your shower, washing machine and kitchen sink to water your lawn. Ensure that you’re using biodegradable cleaning products then there is no need to worry.

If you have any buckets, drums and/or bottles to spare, leave them outside on rainy days and catch the rain water. This free water can then be used to fill up your toilet and sink.

The fishing village I live in tends to go through days of extreme heat accented by a day or two of torrential rain, so we catch water to use on our perma-patch when the sun is blistering.

Resources:

Water Crisis in Cape Town: Life on 50L

Surviving the Water Crisis: Discover The Essential Products That Can Prevent Day Zero