As Day Zero loomed for the drought-stricken South African capital of Cape Town last month, it sounded a warning for all cities whose water supplies are struggling to meet demand.
Normally, it would be unheard of for authorities to suggest that the taps be turned off in a metropolis of four million citizens because water was running out, yet that is what was threatened in Cape Town early this year.
Parts of Australia have also battled diminishing water supplies over the years and many people are still keen to ‘do their bit’ and conserve this precious resource.
And by doing so they are also saving money on their water bill. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that in 2013–14, households spent more than $5 billion on water, paying an average of $3.08 per thousand litres. For most capital cities, that is a doubling of the cost of water since 2010.
Have you thought of using the following ideas to save water and money?
1. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. Fill a glass with water and use that to rinse your teeth. More than 90 per cent of the water from our taps goes back down the drain.
2. Skip the bath, and shower instead. You need more than 100 litres to fill a bath, whereas a three-minute shower uses half that amount of water. You could also use a bucket to collect the water you wash in and throw it over the garden.
3. Check all taps inside and outside the house for dripping or leaks. A dripping tap can waste more than one litre in an hour.
4. Consider installing a water-flow restrictor or aerator to all taps in the house.
5. Don’t flush anything other than human waste and toilet paper down your toilet. Some people flush away facial tissues, wipes, cotton buds and even sanitary products. Not only could this lead to blockages, you are also using costly water to dispense of items that can go into your rubbish bin for free.
6. Re-use water from your cooking. If you steam or boil your veggies, don’t throw the strained water down the drain. It can be frozen and added to a soup stock later, or even to water your plants, once cooled down. Water left over from boiling pasta can also be used in your garden.
7. Only use a dishwasher or washing machine when you have a full load to do.
8. If you wash dishes by hand, but not straight away after dinner, rinse them quickly when you take them to the sink so that food does not dry hard on the surface. It will require less water and effort to wash up later.
9. Consider replacing your showerhead with a low-flow version. Standard showerheads have a flow rate of nine litres a minute. Very efficient ones cut that down to five litres, and with the best ones, you won’t even be able to feel the difference.
Do you have any other water-saving tips to share? Does it feel like your water bill is becoming more expensive, despite not wasting water?