Become a water warrior not a worrier

This week we kick off our first study article for the 2018 Thrive EnviroQuiz competition written by sustainability advocate ANNABEL RYDER. Included are 10 questions that may be asked during the inter-schools quiz on Friday September 7.

Water is life and without it, every living thing will die. Water shortages affect us all: rural, peri urban and urban populations as well as all crops,
livestock, indigenous flora and fauna.

So, what can each one of us do to make one small change every day? This “new normal” of water scarcity isn’t going away. The day when taps will be switched off remains a real possibility at some point in the future and scientists warn that the threat of Day Zero will now always be with us, because of climate change.

In the Western Cape, we are living in a water scarce region and lower rainfall rates are the reason for lower dam replenishment rates and hence lower dam levels.

Water scarcity is not just a recent issue: Cape Town has been experiencing one of its worst multi-year droughts ever recorded. The Western Province first implemented water restrictions in January 2016. Since February 1, 2018, Cape Town has been under Level 6B restrictions, requiring all of us to cut back on water usage, to under 50 litres a person a day, whether at home, school, work or on holiday. We all need to be much more water conscious every time we use

While local community efforts to save water have already been immense, with daily consumption having fallen by almost half since 2015 to 518 megalitres a day (MLD), current daily usage rates still exceed the City of Cape Town’s target of 450MLD.

About 70% of all water used in the city is used in homes, and we all need to continue to look for more permanent ways to reduce daily water usage.

We need to be particularly vigilant until such time that the dam levels have recovered. However, safeguarding and conserving every drop of water must become a way of life for all, if we are to have enough water for everyone in future. Water “appreciation” is the new norm-

Six major dams of the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS) account for some 99.6% of the combined water storage capacity, the largest of which is Theewaterskloof and the newest is the Berg River dam.

The dams, located in mountainous areas close to the city, are recharged by rain falling in their catchment areas, largely during the cooler winter months of May to August, with dam water storage levels declining during the dry summer months of December to February during which time, urban and agricultural water use increases.

With water usage outstripping supply, we all need to save water, all the time, wherever we are. So, what can you do, right now?

Remember that 1 kilolitre (Kl) = 1 000 litres water or 1m³ (one cubic metre) and current Level 6B water restrictions allow 50l a person a day – that’s 1 500l or 1.5m³ a person a month.

Consider doing a household or school water audit, and record when you use water and how much, by activity, for example cooking, flushing toilets.

Persuade your school to set up a school water meter noticeboard, recording weekly water usage and an ideas box to save water. Do a water meter test. Check your toilet doesn’t leak by pressing a piece of toilet paper at the back of the toilet bowl – if it gets wet you probably have a leak.

Report any burst pipes or leaks by SMS to 31373 giving the location and contact number. Find ways at home or school to “Catch and Re-Use” water for different uses. In next month’s article, we will explore different types of water: municipal drinking water, grey and black, potable and non-potable, well point and borehole.

Become a Water Warrior (not a Worrier) and have fun finding creative ways to save water.


1. What is the daily allowance per person of municipal tap water given the Level 6B water restrictions effective since February 1?

2. In the Western Cape Water Supply System, how many dams account for 99.6% of the total water catchment capacity?

3. What is a kilolitre?

4. What is the City of Cape Town’s daily water usage target, so as to avoid “Day Zero”?

5. What approximate percentage of all water usage is currently used in homes?

6. When is Cape Town’s typical rainy season?

7. When is Cape Town’s highest water usage season?

8. When were water restrictions first introduced in Cape Town?

9. By what percentage has Cape Town’s daily water usage fallen since 2015?

10. By how much does current daily water usage exceed Cape Town’s daily usage target?

See answers on page 2