Water Sustainability for South African Households: A Comprehensive Guide

by | Feb 6, 2023

Water is a precious resource that has become increasingly scarce in South Africa due to changing climate patterns and growing population demands. The country is facing severe water scarcity, and it is crucial for households to adopt water-saving practices to ensure the sustainability of this precious resource. This comprehensive guide will take you through the different water saving practices that you can adopt for your household.

Water Scarcity in South Africa

According to Greenpeace, the water crisis in South Africa is a result of various factors such as climate change, population growth, and water mismanagement. Due to the persistent drought, some parts of the country, such as the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces, have experienced severe water shortages. In response, the government has implemented measures such as water restrictions and the construction of dams and desalination plants. For households to address the water scarcity crisis in South Africa requires a multi-pronged approach.

Importance of Household Water Management

Household water is used for various purposes, including drinking, washing, cooking, and cleaning. It is essential to ensure that households have access to a safe and reliable supply of water, as this is critical for human health and wellbeing. However, in South Africa, not all households have access to safe and reliable water sources. While domestic water supplies in urban areas are generally safe to drink, this may not always be true in rural areas or informal settlements.

Drinking water in South Africa comes from two sources: surface and groundwater. Surface water comes from rainfall runoff into rivers and dams, while groundwater comes from underground stores and aquifers. Although domestic water supplies in urban areas are generally safe to drink, this is not always the case in rural areas or informal settlements.

Conserving water is crucial in South Africa due to the water crisis that the country is currently facing. The water resources are under tremendous pressure, and the demand for water is increasing due to population growth and ongoing development. Household water management can:

  1.  Help ensure that there is enough water to meet the needs of the population and the economy. 
  2.  Help protect the environment by reducing the amount of water that is taken from rivers, dams, and other sources.
  3.  Help reduce water bills for households – by using water efficiently, households can save money on their water bills, which can be significant, especially for low-income households
  4.  Help reduce energy bills, as less energy is required to pump and treat water that is used efficiently.

Adopting Water-Saving Practices

There are several simple water-saving practices that households can adopt to reduce water consumption and improve water sustainability. 

Fixing Leaks to Save Water

The first and perhaps most obvious way to save water at home is to fix any leaks. Leaks can waste a lot of water over time, and even a small drip can add up to hundreds of litres of water in just a week. Be sure to check for leaks in pipes, faucets, and toilets regularly, and repair any leaks as soon as possible. This simple step can save a significant amount of water and reduce your water bills.

6 types of leaks that waste water

  1. Water Softener Leaks: Water softener leaks are among the most common household water leaks. They are usually due to loose water connections, damaged O-rings, or a malfunctioning control valve.
  2. Water Supply Line Leaks: A water supply line leak is another common type of water leak in a house. This is often caused by corrosion, high water pressure, or physical damage to the pipes.
  3. Pool and Fountain Leaks: A pool or fountain leak can result from damaged pool equipment, cracks in the pool or fountain surface, or deteriorating pool tile grout.
  4. Toilet Leaks: Residential toilets account for a large portion of daily water consumption. A toilet leak is usually caused by a worn-out flapper or valve seal.
  5. Faucet, Shower, and Tub Leaks: A leaky faucet, showerhead, or tub is generally quite harmless and won’t cause much damage. It’s often caused by a worn-out washer or O-ring.
  6. Leaky Pipes: Like water supply line leaks, leaky pipes can be caused by corrosion, high water pressure, or physical damage.

Installing Water-Saving Devices and Systems

Another way to save water is by installing water-saving devices that are designed to reduce the amount of water used without affecting performance.

8 types of water-saving devices

  1. Low-Flow Showerheads: These showerheads have a flow rate of 7.5 litres per minute or less, which is half the amount of water used by traditional showerheads. Meaning, a family of four can save up to 160 litres of water per day.
  2. Dual-Flush Toilets: These can save a substantial amount of water by offering two options for flushing. A half-flush uses less water, while a full-flush uses the regular amount of water. A dual-flush toilet can save up to 72 litres of water per day.
  3. Faucet Aerators: Faucet aerators reduce the water flow while maintaining the water pressure. The aerator can help households reduce water consumption by up to 50% without compromising the functionality of the faucet.
  4. Water-Saving Washing Appliances: These can help households save up to 60% of water per cycle compared to traditional washing machines and dishwashers by using less water per cycle.
  5. Rainwater Harvesting Systems: This is the process of collecting and storing rainwater for future use. This system can help households reduce their reliance on municipal water supply, which can be costly and subject to water restrictions.
  6. Greywater Systems: This is a system that processes wastewater from non-toilet plumbing fixtures, such as showers, bathtubs, and sinks, and then treated for reuse in irrigation, flushing toilets, and other non-potable uses. Greywater systems can save households saving up to 70 litres of water per day.
  7. Borehole or Groundwater Systems: These use water from underground aquifers, where a borehole is drilled into the ground until it reaches a layer of rock that contains water. A borehole or groundwater system can significantly reduce household water bills since it does not rely on the municipal water supply.
  8. Drip Irrigation Systems: This delivers water directly to the plant’s roots, reducing water loss through evaporation and runoff while ensuring that plants receive the appropriate amount of water. Drip irrigation systems can save up to 50% of water compared to traditional sprinkler systems. 

Using Water Wisely

It’s important to be mindful of how you use water in your daily life. These are small adjustments to your daily routine that can add up to significant water savings over time.

8 types of water-saving devices

  1. Don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth or shaving. Instead, turn off the tap and only turn it on when you need to rinse. 
  2. When washing dishes by hand, fill up the sink with water rather than letting the water run continuously. 
  3. When doing laundry, make sure to use a full load to maximise the use of water.
  4. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway or patio. 
  5. Water plants during cooler hours of the day and don’t overwater your lawn.

Using Native Plants

Landscaping can be a significant source of water usage, particularly in drier climates. By using native plants in your garden, you can significantly reduce your water usage. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and require less water than non-native species. They are also more resistant to pests and diseases, which can further reduce the need for water and chemical treatments.

Top 5 indigenous plants that are native to South Africa

  1. Agapanthus: This easy-to-grow perennial produces showy, rounded clusters of brilliant blue or white flowers.
  2. Baobab Tree: This iconic tree species is known for its distinctive barrel-like trunk and extraordinary longevity. It is also ethnobotanically important, as its fruit and leaves are used in traditional medicine.
  3. Geranium: Native to South Africa, these plants do well in dry or drought-like conditions and can attract local wildlife with their blooms.
  4. Wild Apricot: This indigenous fruit crop is sweet and edible in its raw state, and is found diversely in the wild in South Africa.
  5. Rangeland Grasses: South Africa is blessed with good, mainly perennial grazing grasses which occur naturally in the region. These include weeping love grass, couch grass, guinea grass, Smuts finger grass, and blue buffalo grass.

How Home+ can help your household save water

Many of these water-saving practices are easy to do, including daily practices for the whole family. For others, the Home+ app provides you with the convenience of managing your household through one app. You can book a trusted and vetted Hero to fix all your leaks, as well as install water saving devices such as low-flow showerheads, dual-flush toilets and faucet aerators.

Interested in reading more about water saving devices and systems? Take a look at Rainwater Tanks or Greywater Recycling or Borehole Water.

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Abigail Phiri
Abigail Phiri is a Growth Marketeer at Home+. She is passionate about content and ensuring our customers have an enjoyable experience of the Home+ brand.
Abigail Phiri
Abigail Phiri is a Growth Marketeer at Home+. She is passionate about content and ensuring our customers have an enjoyable experience of the Home+ brand.

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