It’s been raining! Not like the biblical proportions, Noah experienced and we had dreamed of, but enough rain to raise the reservoir levels significantly. I hope that a priest has done his part and blessed the rains.
Some folks have been asking how are we coping and wondering what’s the latest on day zero. As I mentioned here, day zero was pushed back to 2019, but the water restrictions remain in place. That was a few months ago so it’s time for a quick update.
As of today, the overall reservoir levels are at 43.3%. This is remarkable because we’ve gone from 20% water reserves in April, with only 10% of that usable. The city’s reserves are actually above 2016 levels. This is really amazing because July and August are the historically wettest months. So we could end up in an even better position.
In spite of the rain, the city is keeping the water restrictions in place. I expect that they will loosen the restrictions once dam levels get nearer to 60%. The city is also continuing to build desalination plants, and work on other water projects. The rain, water usage restrictions, and projects to add capacity appear to be working as you can see in this video.
Recently Day Zero ( the day the City of Cape Town shuts off water to all but essential services) was pushed back to July 15, this was shortly followed by reports that it may not happen in 2018. When we first landed it was April 15th. There are multiple factors that went into the date being pushed back, but it is mostly due to decreased demand from the agriculture industry, and a little bit of political football (more on South African politics here). While this great news, we are still doing our part to use less than 50 litters per day.
Since we don’t want our water to be shut off we are taking this pretty seriously. I will admit that coming from Wisconsin where fresh water is an abundance this has been a big shift and a wake up. No more 15 – 20 minute showers, no more flushing the toilet every time, no more watering the lawn, no more cleaning the car.
So what exactly are we doing? I’ll try to break it down.
In the bathroom in addition to shutting off the water while we soap up, we stand in a large tub to collect all water while showering. This water then goes into a bucket to fill the toilet cistern. We don’t let the water run to allow it to get warm either… One thing about cold showers is that you tend to move a little quicker. There are some folks touting health benefits of cold showers, but I call bullshit. We are doing standard stuff as well: Yellow let it mellow, shutting off water when brushing teeth and lathering hands, etc
In the kitchen we turn water off while soaping dishes, and rinse with just a trickle of water. We are also mostly drinking bottled water. Thankfully we can buy this in 5 litter bottles. So we try to keep a few on hand.
In the laundry room we collect the rinse water and use that to augment toilet water. I was surprised at how much water the washing machine uses.
I hope you see a general theme here. Don’t waste clean water to flush the toilet, and don’t leave the faucet running if you aren’t actively doing something with the water. I’m sure there is more we can do, but we can only use so much grey water.
What tips do you have for us? Have you survived a severe drought what did you do?