145 litres of water a day? Learn to live on 50, like we had to in South Africa


THE nation has been left excessive and dry this summer time – with a extreme lack of rainfall prompting hosepipe bans and curbs on paddling swimming pools and barbecues.

However as we face having to curb our common water consumption of 145 litres per day — within the wake of the driest July since records began in 1836 — we may study a factor or two from the South Africans, who confronted a much bigger disaster 5 years in the past.

For three successive winters, the annual rains did not come


For 3 successive winters, the annual rains didn’t comeCredit score: Reuters
Queues for water at natural spring in Cape Town


Queues for water at pure spring in Cape CityCredit score: Related Press

I moved to Cape Town in 2017 and located myself in the course of the worst drought the Western Cape province had seen in 100 years.

For 3 successive winters, from 2015 to 2017, the annual rains didn’t come and the reservoirs that encompass the nation’s second greatest metropolis of 4.6million individuals had been almost empty.

Cape City’s then mayor, Patricia de Lille, got here up with a controversial plan to deal with the disaster, dubbed Day Zero.

This was the day — projected to reach in April 2018 — on which the town’s reserves can be at simply 13.5 per cent and due to this fact unable to supply the under-siege metropolis with uncontaminated water.

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As soon as it arrived, the federal government can be compelled to show off provides to houses and arrange water factors on avenue corners the place residents can be anticipated to affix big queues to fill containers beneath the gaze of armed guards.

Cape City was getting ready to be the primary main metropolis on the planet to expire of water.

There have been real fears that such a catastrophe would materialise, bringing with it rioting, illness and financial collapse.

It was a shock for the inhabitants of a affluent and cosmopolitan vacationer vacation spot. They usually had been decided to do what they might to keep away from it.

Whereas all of us prayed for rain, households had been ordered to limit their day by day use to 50 litres of water or face big fines and the set up of meters at their houses that might reduce off provides past that degree.

South Africans all of the sudden turned very clued up on precisely how a lot water they used for his or her day by day actions. A 90-second bathe took up ten litres, a rest room flush 9. In order that meant most households took it in turns to bathe on totally different days, and restricted themselves to only one flush of the john.

Pets drink one litre a day, brushing your tooth makes use of two, whereas cooking and meals preparation want one litre of water — for those who plan rigorously.

Home cleansing requires 5 litres and the typical individual wants about three litres per day for consuming water, tea and low.

With a washer full of garments and different gadgets requiring 70 litres and a dishwasher load 9 litres, most individuals reduce down to 1 laundry load every week and put the dishwasher on each three days.

At first there was lots of complaining, however by early 2018 individuals had rapidly realised that the federal government was critical and the faucets can be turned off.

The considered Day Zero and having to queue for hours within the solar to fill a container at a tanker on the road nook galvanized everybody into motion.

Cape Town was preparing to be the first major city to run out of water


Cape City was getting ready to be the primary main metropolis to expire of waterCredit score: Getty
Households were ordered to restrict their daily use to 50 litres of water or face huge fines


Households had been ordered to limit their day by day use to 50 litres of water or face big finesCredit score: Reuters

Resort workers eliminated the plugs from baths, put particular bathe heads on to scale back water use and emptied swimming swimming pools, all of which hit the vacationer commerce badly, however Cape City was determined. Nevertheless, the town’s mammoth efforts weren’t in useless. Day Zero was pushed additional and additional again.

Then, within the winter of 2018, the rains lastly got here. The reservoirs refilled and the restrictions that had been so feared had been by no means carried out. But the risk had raised consciousness of the worth of water and the way a lot we want it.

The inhabitants stays very switched on to saving and never losing this useful resource, as they know Day Zero could not have been averted fully — simply pushed again.

Priya Reddy, Cape City’s then director of communications, mentioned: “It was probably the most talked-about topic however it wanted to be. It was not a fairly answer — however it was not a fairly downside.

“It was an enormous problem and everybody pulled collectively within the worst drought in a century, however we did it, and the problem now’s to make sure our water isn’t ever wasted.”

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There’s loads to study from the individuals of Cape City, who managed to scale back their day by day utilization of water from 600million litres a day to 450million litres.

Above are a few of their ideas for getting by the worst drought in dwelling reminiscence.


  • For bathrooms: If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.
  • Bathe and moist your self then flip off the bathe. Cleaning soap and lather your self. Then briefly use the bathe to rinse off.
  • Put a bucket beneath the bathe to gather all of the water that runs off you and pour that into the bathroom cistern for a free flush.
  • Wash your hair much less typically – it rapidly and naturally adapts.
  • Put a brick within the cistern of your rest room so it fills with much less water for every flush.
  • Change the bathe head to an alternate that enables much less water to circulation.
  • Don’t use the sink for laundry up, use a bowl. You’ll be able to re-use the water within the bowl.
  • Steam or microwave your greens moderately than boil in pans of water.
  • Solely ever use the washer and dishwasher when they’re full.
  • Put wooden chippings or mulch in your flower beds to forestall evaporation and the expansion of weeds that take water out of your backyard.
  • Wash your automobile in your garden from a bucket of soapy water and rinse off utilizing a clear bucket of water and a material.
  • Flip off the faucet whereas brushing your tooth and shaving.


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