Water and sustainability
Cape Town water crisis reminded the whole Western world of how it took water availability for granted. The crisis started in 2015 and peaked during mid-2017 to mid-2018. During that time, the City of Cape Town implemented strict water restrictions and managed to reduce its daily water usage by more than a half. Such measures were necessary, as the water level dropped significantly – it was at 15-30% of total dam capacity.
Luckily, reduced water consumption combined with heavy rains in June 2018 led to an increase in the dam levels. The city began easing the restrictions in September. The worst was over, but the whole event made the people of developed countries to realize that the same thing can happen anywhere, and made them rethink the way they consume water.
Tomas Fuller once said: “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” As it seems, the well is on the way to get dry, so we need to ask - what can we do today to save water for the future generations?
Restructuring existing systems to improve water conservation requires the government and many institutions to cooperate. That can be a very slow process with uncertain outcome. What can be done right now is a slight change of everyday water consuming habits. Here are some suggestions on how to reduce your water footprint.
In the house
- Low-flow showerheads and faucets – They are inexpensive, easy to install and they can cut the water consumption by a half.
- Prefer showers over baths - An average bath consumes between 130 and 190 liters of water, whereas a 10-minute shower consumes around 100 liters (or even less with low-flow showerheads).
- Turn off water – It doesn’t need to flow all the time while cooking, shaving or brushing teeth. While waiting for the water to warm up in the shower, collect the cold water in a bucket – it can be used later for flushing the toilet, cleaning, watering plants, etc.
- Eco drinking water – Instead of buying bottled water, it is better to use filter pitchers. It is cheaper and it also reduces plastic waste.
- Washing vegetables and fruit – Put the vegetables and fruit into a large bowl of water and scrub with a vegetable brush, rather than washing them with running water.
Around the house
- Sprinklers off on windy days – Otherwise most of the water will be lost due to evaporation.
- If you can, use the drip irrigation system – Plants will get the exact amount of water needed for growth, and it cuts water consumption of irrigation by a half. Also, drip system can be easily automatized, so it can save not just water but your time too.
- Don’t cut the grass too short – This method reduces evaporation, so you won’t need to turn your sprinklers on as often.
- Proper time for watering – If you must water your plants or lawn, be sure to do it early in the morning or late in the evening. This is another way to avoid loss of water due to evaporation.
A lot of water is used in the production of our food, energy and many other commodities. More shopping means higher water footprint. Best way to battle this problem is to repurpose and recycle as much as possible and to buy things that are really necessary. To be a smart, eco shopper you need to answer two questions before each purchase: Do I really need this? and Can I reuse something that I already have for this purpose? Those two questions can help you decide if the thing you want to buy is truly necessary.