Desperate need to intensify efforts to conserve water

As the dire drought conditions show no sign of letting up soon, the City is pleading with residents to do everything they can to save water.

Stringent Level-3 water restrictions were imposed from Tuesday November 1, but the City warns that so far they seem to have been largely ignored.

Overall usage of drinking water is 10 percent higher than the savings target the City has set to stop dams draining to dangerous levels by the end of summer.

The City says there is a desperate need to keep summer water consumption at the lower winter consumption levels.

It may sound like a difficult task with the hot summer months ahead, but many water-wise measures are possible. Mayoral committee member for utility services Ernest Sonnenberg says, “The start of the hot summer months generally carries with it a spike in water use as residents fill up their pools and use more water in their gardens.

“If we are to meet our targets, residents will need to cut these activities back to winter levels, or intensify their efforts to save in other areas to keep their consumption in line with how much they used during winter.

“Approximately 70 percent of water in Cape Town is used by residential customers, and, as such, these consumers will have the biggest influence on how secure our future water supplies are.”

Brackenfell resident Sandra Ahern says her family’s water-saving routine is often a chore. “But,” she adds, “it is well worth the effort, which proves how our garden is surviving the current drought situation.”

They place a bucket on the floor next to them when they shower. “We have proved that it takes one bucket full of water even before the water becomes warm enough to shower. That bucket is used to water shrubs and pots in the front of the house. The second bucket from the shower water is then cooled down and used likewise.”

They wash dishes in a bowl instead of using the dishwasher. “The crockery is quickly rinsed after use but saved to be washed all together with breakfast, lunch and dinner crockery, washed and rinsed at the same time in the evening. That water is used on plants and pots situated in the back garden and any drop of water used throughout the day is stored in the bowl,” says Ms Ahern.

“So far, it has proved successful as all my shrubs and pots are looking healthy and surviving bravely.”

Plants are watered when necessary with a watering can instead of a hosepipe.

The family had a solar water heater installed some time back and that is also helping them save on electricity.

Ms Ahern’s husband connected a pipe to the washing machine outlet so that the water drains onto the back lawn.

They have also replaced the grassed area of their verge with stone.

“This eliminates quite a sizable amount of lawn and looks very attractive,” says Ms Ahern.

Her husband has also fashioned an improvised pool cover from thick bubble wrap and duct tape to prevent evaporation.

“Checking the level of the water since its installation last weekend, it has proved that there has been little evaporation,” she says.

Household cleaning water is also re-used for outside use to wash down paving.

The City says that residents with boreholes or water wells need to register them. It also advises residents to try to adopt a range of water-saving measures:

Ensure washing machines or dishwashers are full before running them.

Thaw frozen foods at room temperature in a basin of water or in a microwave instead of under running water.

Collect tap water in a bottle instead of letting it run down the drain while waiting for it to heat up or cool.

Close the tap when brushing your teeth.

Plug the sink when shaving rather than rinsing your razor under running water.

Shower rather than taking a bath – a half-filled bath uses 113 litres of water, while a five-minute shower uses about 56 litres.

Install a water-saving showerhead, take shorter showers, don’t run the water at full force, and turn off the shower when soaping.

Install a new water-saving toilet.

Check if your toilet is leaking. Place a 2-litre bottle filled with sand into the cistern to reduce the amount of water used with each flush

Ensure that gardens do not require large amounts of water to maintain.

For more water saving measure visit The City will also be advising consumers of restrictions in an insert in their next municipal invoices.

“We encourage residents to familiarise themselves with these restrictions and display them prominently in their homes,” says the City.

Residents can also email queries to and report transgressions to the City’s call centre at 0860 103 089. You can also send an SMS to 31373 or email to