Residents reduce water bill to zero

Carol Botha in her garden at her Boston home, with her R0 water bill.

A Boston couple’s water-saving routine paid off, literally, when they received a R0 water bill.

Carol and Meurant Botha were thrilled when they opened their latest municipal bill, showing they had stayed within the 7kl free-water limit and didn’t owe the City a cent for water for January.

Ms Botha, an astronomer, said she had always been conscious about the need to save water, even before the water restrictions started to bite.

After receiving her December account for just over R30 – still down from their usual bill of about R100 – she wanted to see if she could save even more.

So she and her husband made a conscious effort to be more water wise, and they found practical ways to do just that without having to install expensive devices or water-saving systems.

The City of Cape Town imposed Level 3B water restrictions from Wednesday February 1, as dam levels dropped below 40 percent and Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services, and energy, warned that water consumption was still far too high in the city, saying: “It is time that all residents and businesses take the water crisis seriously.”

The Bothas have lived in Boston for 40 years. The two are both retired now and spend most of their time at home during the day.

Despite qualifying for a water-restrictions exemption because of a knee operation three months ago, Ms Botha still felt guilty when passing motorists gave her the evil eye as she watered her garden.

“This motivated me, as I wanted to show that I could still save water, even though I had an exemption. It wasn’t about the money; it was about reducing our water consumption and doing our bit for mother nature. If everyone does their part, then we don’t need to get to that point where we are standing in line waiting for the water trucks.”

The Bothas got a 750-litre Slimline JoJo rainwater tank a few years ago, but only use it when the plants are not getting enough water. In the kitchen, they have a bucket next to the sink which collects the water they use for rinsing glasses and dishes.

They open their taps slightly and pull up the lever when flushing the toilet. They also keep a bucket in the shower to catch the water that runs while the shower is warming up.

“We can still go about our daily tasks as usual, but we just try and use a little less water where possible,” said Ms Botha.

They have not spent any more on water-saving equipment and do not have a grey water system.

“Everyone needs to find ways to save water which suites them and their household. There are many small things we can do,” said Ms Botha.

She still wonders if she can get it right to use even less water and says the experience has shown her just how precious the resource is.