My submission will not represent some innovative technologies and techniques. Instead, I propose to submit a “bang-for-your-buck” proposal. This is how I save water.
In order to save water cheaply, you need:
1. A bucket
2. A large basin
3. A small container
4. Your smart phone or pen/pencil and paper
That is all that you need. How you use these things I will get to later. I estimate that the above (barring the smart phone of course) should not cost you more than N$150 if not even less. In fact, you should have most of things lying around in your house already. Therefore, this overall solution is very light on your pocket.
Saving water is less about buying expensive equipment more about a mindset change. Follow the following steps:
Do the rounds in your house (equally applicable to work environment) and ask yourself “Where is my water coming from, and where does it go out?”. Your water should come from your municipal main or supplied by your complex to your home. Each household will be unique, but you probably have only one place where your water is coming into your home.
Your water may go to many places in your home, whether it be the kitchen zinc, the toilet, the shower, the tap outside, the bathroom taps, the washing machine etc. Again, each household is unique, but take note of every place. The next question to ask is “for what reason is water used in this spot?”. These seem obvious but are very important questions. I am using the water outlets in my house as an example:
• The kitchen zinc: wash dishes, wash hands, rinse food, cooking and boiling water
• Washing machine: Wash clothing items
• Toilet: Flush faecal matter and urine
• Bathroom taps: brush teeth, wash face, wash hands
• Shower: Showering
• Tap outside: gardening, cleaning outside, wash car
Each house will be different, but the idea remains equally applicable. This leads to the most important question:
Breaking it down from the previous question, for each place where water is used in my household, is it possible to use less water for these activities? Or otherwise stated, the things I need water for, can I reduce or change these activities? The economist would call water running into my house as supply and the water I want demand. This lies at the heart of water savings, reducing your demand in order to reduce the need for more supply. I will try to address solutions to these questions in the next section.
Let us take at my house as an example with the list from the previous section, and break it down with the criteria above. I have listed these in the table on the next page.
You cannot know unless you measure , that is the bottom line. Waiting for your municipal bill to check your water use is too infrequent. How else will you know? Well, most households have a water meter that measures the amount of water that you use. That is what the municipality or your body corporate reads for billing. That water meter is your measuring stick of water savings success. There is no other way to know if you have been successful at saving water. So start measuring.
This is where either the smart phone or the pen/pencil and paper comes in. If you have a smartphone, use an app to measure your consumption. These apps are very handy because they keep all your recordings in one place and you can even do easy daily, weekly, monthly and yearly breakdowns of your consumption, with added graphs and figures, all on your phone. If you are old school, the pen and paper works just as well. Record your reading, calculate your consumption over the period and then you can see how well you are doing.
How frequently must you measure? I would recommend daily. I pass by my water meter every day as it is just outside my front door so it is convenient for me. Nevertheless, if you leave your house or come back, just go check it. It only takes a minute. Weekly measurements are also okay, but you lose some of the finer detail. Through daily measurements, I have been able to isolate specific wasteful tendencies in my household that only occur on certain days. In addition, if you measure daily, you are able to pick up on leaks much faster than on a weekly scale.
Okay, that is great and all, but am I actually saving water? Because I measure my consumption, I can provide some results. Please note, I only started measuring from last year September and only started using the smartphone app since the beginning of this year.
I will illustrate this with my monthly water consumption values. My consumption can also be summarised weekly, but to keep it brief, I only use monthly consumption below. Please note, I am the only person living in my flat, therefore there is only one person in my household.
I am the first to admit that there is room for improvement. My consumption would even be lower than what it currently is, but two factors, namely my domestic worker and my washing machine push my weekly and monthly consumption up quite a bit. Herein also lies the beauty of measuring you water meter daily, as I can immediately see the impact my washing machine and domestic worker has on my daily use. On the days my domestic worker does her job, my consumption ranges between 70 to 100 litres per day. This is a matter of constant investigation and engagement which will not be solved overnight. I can also improve the effectivity of my washing machine’s water use by collecting the waste water it generates and using it to flush my toilet. I estimate that my machine uses about 40 litres per wash, which translates to a number of toilet flushes. This will require some modifications to my current washing machine connections that may or may not be costly and cumbersome.
I must also mention that I am living alone in my flat at the moment. I apply some pretty crazy means to save water and I certainly don’t expect everyone to adopt these sort of measures. It is much harder to control your savings when there are other people around as you have less control over others than yourself. I am aware that if I get married or have children, that the overall consumption per person will most likely increase in my household. I therefore do not expect everyone to apply all these measures or apply them all with the same vigour.
Saving water is much cheaper and easier than you think. It encourages a sustainable, responsible attitude towards our precious water resources. The benefits of savings may seem small if only one person is considered, but if this attitude is widely applied, the compound savings will have an immense impact on the demands on our water sources.
I reckon from my own savings that most people can lower their personal consumption to 70 litres/day or even lower without significant and painful adjustments to their water consumption. A lot of the changes I made were actually easy and it formed positive habits that I simply apply every day without even thinking about it too much.
For more water savings tips and mostly respectful discussions around water savings and water use from an everyday user point of view, please visit and join the Save Water Namibia Facebook group.
Firstly we managed water savings in the garden by replacing normal grass with artificial lawn and by planting trees and succulents only. We stopped using the bath and take showers only. Shower water is collected and used to flush the toilets. Shower sessions are shortened and we shower in succession, i.e. minimizing the water wasted while we wait for the water to get hot. Our BIGGEST saving is achieved by changing the way we do washing of clothes. Double cycle washing is limited by washing all laundry in a basin and then only doing a rinse and spinning cycle in the washing machine. This way we almost halve the water we use for laundry.
We read our water meter every evening to see if there are any leaks etc., but also to determine trends and activities that use more water than usual. This way we can be very responsive on any occurrence of water wastage.
Our average daily consumption over the entire 2015 was 713 litres per day. Since we implemented our water saving initiatives on 25 February 2016, our average daily consumption is only 222 litres per day, i.e. our family achieved a water saving of almost 69% and we are still way below the CoW target of 90 litre per person per day!