Green Purr

Western Cape Drought 2017

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South Africa is experiencing its worst drought in living memory.  The Western Cape particularly, with its winter rainfall climate, is taking severe strain.  With dams at around 36% capacity in the Western Cape and rain only expected in another 3 or so months, mild panic is setting in. Weekly dam levels in the Western Cape can be tracked on the City of Cape Town’s website.

Below are a few ways to conserve water in all parts of our homes, adapted from the FLOW campaign (For the Love Of Water).  

Reduce water consumption

  1. Turn-off the tap while brushing teeth, shaving or soaping hands.
  2. Take shorter showers and use less water if you bath.
  3. Sweep outside areas, do not hose down with water.
  4. Use eco-friendly soaps and cleaning products.
  5. Fix leaks at home & report public water leaks to the Municipality.
  6. Always use a plugged-sink or bowl instead of a running tap.
  7. Insulate hot water pipes to reduce time waiting for water to heat up.
  8. Collect water with buckets while waiting for the water to heat up.
  9. Install aerators and flow-reducing valves on your taps.
  10. Install water saving devices on taps, toilets and showers.
  11. Install a water meter and monitor your use.


  1. Wash your car with a bucket and sponge only.
  2. Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  3. Use a commercial car wash that uses waterless cleaning systems.


  1. Shower instead of bath.
  2. Use less water in the bath.
  3. Bathe young children together.
  4. Flush the toilet only when odours make it necessary.
  5. Put a brick in your cistern to reduce water usage per flush.
  6. Install a low-flow shower-head.
  7. Install aerators and flow-reducing valves on your taps.
  8. Install a dual flush mechanism on your toilet.
  9. Install a geyser blanket for insulation.
  10. Insulate the copper pipes around the geyser.


  1. Cut back on washing your towels and linen.
  2. Match the size of your laundry load with water volume.
  3. Buy an eco-friendly wash ball.
  4. Buy a water-efficient washing machine.


  1. Only turn the dishwasher on when it’s full.
  2. Use a plugged sink to wash dishes instead of a running tap.
  3. Use less dish-washing liquid to reduce the need for rinsing.
  4. Use a plugged sink to rinse vegetables instead of a running tap.
  5. Use the water you used to rinse fruit and veggies to water plants.
  6. Keep a bottle of tap water in the fridge to avoid running the tap until the water is cold.
  7. Don’t use running water to defrost food.
  8. Install aerators and flow-reducing valves on your taps.
  9. Purchase water-efficient appliances and water-saving devices.

Plants & Garden

  1. Learn about water-wise gardening.
  2. Water plants at the coolest part of the day.
  3. Group plants together that have the same water requirements.
  4. Water plants with the water you used in the kitchen to rinse fruit and veggies.
  5. Choose local indigenous water-wise plants for your home and garden.
  6. Adjust sprinklers to water plants and not the pavement.
  7. Cover your pool so the water doesn’t evaporate.
  8. Check your pool for leaks.
  9. Put self-closing spray-nozzles on hosepipes.
  10. Use natural and organic garden products.

Methods to check your home is leak free

  1. Use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks. Read the water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water has been used. If the water meter doesn’t read exactly the same, then there is a leak.
  2. To check for toilet tank leaks, add food coloring to the tank. If the toilet leaks, the toilet bowl will have changed color within 30 minutes.
  3. Repair dripping taps by replacing the washer. If a tap is dripping at a rate of 1 drop per second, you could be wasting up to 10,220 Liters per year!
  4. If your toilet handle constantly stays in a downward position this means that water is constantly running. Replace or fix the handle to avoid wasted water.
  5. Insulate your water pipes. If you do, you’ll get hot water faster, avoid wasting water while it is heating, and also saving money on electricity!



City of Cape Town website


One Comment

  1. Thanks Helen! I love the tips on checking for water leaks — very practical (like the rest of the article).

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