WATER SAVING TIPS + MY R250 DIY GREY WATER SYSTEM


Personal & Lifestyle
piece written on the 6th November 2016 by  

For those of you who know me, you’ll know that if I’m not at my computer then I’m probably in the garden. Any chance I get to work on my garden is treasured – it doesn’t matter if it’s at 23h00 at night, peaceful Christopher comes out when in nature. With that in mind, when I hear about people abusing water, it get frustrated because now we’re in level 3 of water restrictions and that poses a great problem to my sanctuary.

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From 1 December 2016 until further notice, all residents are charged according to the level 3 (30% savings) reduction tariffs. If you maintain your level of water consumption, your bill may be significantly higher if you are a heavy water user.

For example, the 2016/17 domestic full tariffs (stand-alone houses) for water are as follows:

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The thing is, it’s not about the money, it’s about the water. A lot of people will be able to afford to water their gardens as if nothing has changed and there lies the problem. A large portion of the privileged will continue on as usual and they’ll much it up for the rest of us.

Because of this I’d like to share some water saving tips, and I’d like to encourage you to follow as many of them as possible. If I can encourage just a few people, and they can encourage a few, soon we’ll have a good portion of people respecting our beautiful city and perhaps with that we can move back to a level 2 or perhaps even a level 1. Because if we don’t, it won’t be long until the water gets shut off completely (like load-shedding) and that’s going to cause big problems (and a lot of frustration). So the next time you’re thinking of watering your garden with a hose, or topping up the pool or running the water whilst you brush your teeth, just remember that you are the cause when our water goes into shedding schedules.

  1. Fill a coke bottle with water and put it in your toilet’s cistern. Each flush will use far less water.
  2. Place buckets in your shower, at least catch some water whilst you wait for it to warm up.
  3. Take the time to check that you don’t have any leaks (dripping taps) anywhere. It’ll only take you 10 minutes.
  4. Pay attention to your water meter, if you’re aware of your usage the chance of saving water is higher.
  5. Don’t run the water whilst you brush your teeth.
  6. Use a broom to clean your driveway and paths, not a hose!
  7. Wash your car with a bucket, you honestly don’t need a hose.
  8. Plant indigenous plants in your garden, they need far less water and there are some stunning varieties.
  9. Get a pool blanket for your pool to reduce evaporation.
  10. Install a grey water system, use a professional or do a DIY job if you can.
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If that’s not enough, here are 100 ways to conserve water.

As I love my garden so much I decided that I would spend a few hours setting up a simple grey water system. We have a one year old who has a bath in the evenings. We don’t fill the bath up too much and I generally bath with him, but it amounts to about 25 or so liters. This is a lot of water, enough to water a large portion of the garden. So I grabbed some paper, did some research, noted down items that I might need and headed off to Builders Warehouse. I purchased a few items there but due to sheer demand they’re out of stock because of how many people are doing this (woohoo). I picked up the other items from Mica and was good to go.

Some 1 meter 40mm PVC pipe, a t-bend, ball valves, joiners, a saw and some PVC weld is all that was required. I think it set me back about R250 maximum:

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My helping hand didn’t, well, help too much:

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I connected most of the parts before hand using the PVC weld and then doubled up using some marine silicon that I have from my fish tanks, but you can buy it at any hardware store – either the marine or shower will do. This sealed all the joints together and put me in a position to start assembling:

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It really wasn’t too complicated, but I did take some time at Builders and Mica to lay things out on the ground and ensure that I had the correct sizes – I’d recommend doing this. I measured the initial PVC pipe by tying some string around it and marking it off to ensure I knew what sizes to buy.

The tap on the right is where water passes down from the bath into the drain, the tap on the left is where water will pass into a drum. In other words I can control the direction that the water goes in – ideally to the left always! I’ll be buying a 40 litre drum to run water into from the bath and at the top of the drum I’ll create holes with some PVC pipe that goes left and rightwards to flow into the direct surrounding plants – a spill over, just like a geyser. This will ensure that no water ends up getting wasted and that my plants may thrive.

Prior to writing this post, I just watered a large portion of my back yard :-)

Here are some other pictures for inspiration, both systems belong to Capetonians I believe (good going!):

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This simple DIY solution I put together cost R250 and took about 2 hours in total, I was entertaining Ethan and eating some lunch whilst doing it, so if you put your head down, shopped around a little I reckon you could do it in 45 minutes and only spend R150! That’s a really small price to pay to keep Cape Town beautiful.

I challenge every single one of you to make some changes!

Oh, and with all the talk about boreholes, you might want to give this interesting article on the use of boreholes in Cape Town a read.

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