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Tips to help you survive the water crisis

Posted By Marilynh / August 29, 2017 / 5 Comments

Level Five water restrictions were implemented in Cape Town last week (see image at bottom of article).  The purpose is to attempt to bring the City’s collective water use to below 500 million litres per day. Currently, consumption stands at nearly 600 million litres per day.  Water guzzlers will be faced with hefty fines, and  residents are asked to limit their domestic property water usage to below 20 kilolitres per month – 87 litres a day.

Capetonians are also advised to keep an emergency store of between 2 to 5 litres of water as pressure reduction, in high lying areas may result in supply interruptions.



Here is a selection of water-saving tips that You’ve Earned It/YEI  has canvassed from various sources:

In the kitchen

  • Capture the first lot of cold water that runs out the hot water tap when washing up.
    Use – to boil in the kettle for hot drinks, or for dogs drinking water
  • Stack up your dishes for the day, and wash up only once a day
  • When ice cubes are left over from your drink, don’t throw them out, pour them on a potplant.
  • Re-use your pasta cooking liquid. Don’t dump the water down the drain. Drain your pasta water into a large pot. Once it cools, you can use it to water your plants.
  • Capture the runoff from your dishwasher or washing machine in a reservoir or large plastic bin. Use this water to flush toilets, water plants or wash the dog.

 In the loo

  • Adhere to the new etiquette for flushing loos when visiting, or when you have guests around. Put the house rules/instructions up in the bathroom/loo plus two buckets of grey water on hand for flushing. 
  • Put a half a brick or a bottle filled with water in your water cistern – this will reduce the amount of water in your cistern.
  • Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily (“if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down”). Flush with grey water all the time.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a dustbin – dispose of tissues, insects and other waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
  • Check your toilets for leaks. Put a little food colouring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the colour begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately.

 In the bathroom

  • “Soap and save” (also known as military showers) – entails running the shower water to get wet, then turn the water off while you soap yourself, and then turn the water back on again to rinse yourself. A little hard in cold weather, but it can save a lot of water. 
  • Alternatively, shower every other day or even twice a week. On non-shower days, wash with water collected in hand-basin.  Use that water to flush toilets. 
  • Install a flow-reducing shower-head
  • Use liquid hand soap instead of normal soap to wash your hands, it saves you having to pre-wet your hands.
  • Grandchildrens bath water should be collected in 5 litre bottles. Use to flush the toilet.
  • Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth or shave – this can save 6 litres of water per minute.
  • Share a shower with your partner.
  • Collect the cold water that first runs out of the hot tap – use this water to flush loos.
  • If you have visitors, place motivational notes at strategic points in your house to remind them to conserve water.


  • Use washing machine and dishwasher only when fully loaded and check dishwasher and washing machine for eco mode/water saving cycles
  • Catch the water from the washing machine to water the garden or to flush toilets
  • Cut back on washing your linen and towels frequently. Air them regularly.

 Garden and surrounds

  • Mulching your plants – retains moisture, protects them from the heat, reduces evaporation and saves water
  • Install a wellpoint or borehole – remember all wellpoints and boreholes need to be registered
  • Plant waterwise plants. Ask your nursery for advice on what plants are best.
  • Consider replacing lawn that is not used often with gravel, stones or indigenous plants.


  • Install a pool cover in order to reduce evaporation
  • Collect backwash water

Around the home

  • Know where the tap to your main water supply is located and make sure you can shut it off. If a pipe were to burst, you could save litres of water and prevent damage.
  • Insulate water pipes and check for leaks.
  • Install a Grey Water system and route the bath, basin and sink outlets into it.
  • Invest in a grey-water system to fill the toilets or water the garden.
  • Install rainwater tanks to capture as much of the rain water as possible.
  • Fit taps with aerators or restrictors to reduce flow to no more than 6 litres per minute.

Be a concerned citizen

  • Report public water leaks to the Municipality, and those water-wasters who are wilfully ignoring water restrictions – (Cape Town: 0860 103 089, SMS: 31373, Whatsapp: 063 407 3699, or email watertoc@capetown.gov.za with the issue & address)
  • Share water saving tips with your social media contacts.


Many thanks to several contributors of water-saving tips  –  Vicki, Abigail, Jason and David

Particular thanks go to Dave Gale who was a fountain of knowledge (excuse the pun!), and who provided the document titled “Tips for the sustainable domestic use of water”, some tips of which  can be seen above.



Water shedding Western Cape – click here

Smile water warriors – click here 


Please share your water-saving tips and advice in the comments section below


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  • Petro
    September 14, 2017 at 5:27 am

    We use the clean water we catch when showering for laundry. We either just toss it in the washing machine until laundry day or have buckets to supplement every (almost overloaded) bundle that goes through.

    • Marilynh
      September 14, 2017 at 8:16 am

      Great tip, thank you!
      Editor, YEI

  • Mogamad Mohamed
    October 16, 2017 at 8:59 pm


    • Marilynh
      October 18, 2017 at 8:25 am

      Thank you for this great tip, Mogamad.
      Kind regards, Marilyn, YEI

  • Burton
    January 18, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Cant we do cloud seeding?
    Surely we can prep now for March.

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