Using water wisely

Using water wisely is very important, not just living in the Eastern Cape but the rest of the world. Coming from Johannesburg, you kind of take water for granted when you open up your tap, water the garden, wash your car or fill your swimming pool to have the bluest pool in the neighbourhood.

Only about 1% of the world’s surface and resources contains drinkable water. A huge proportion of earths water is salt water and requires expensive equipment to desalinate salt water.So really before it’s too late, we all have to take water seriously and put proper processes  place to make sure you are catching and using your water as best as possible. Using grey water can save you about 40% of your total water bill each month and catching rain water can make you independent from the municipalities systems, even for heavy water users.

Living here, and living on rain water alone is difficult, and you have to start thinking carefully on your water usage.In our area, The Ndlambe Municipality, there have been severe water shortages in the last few years. Some communities being without water for 4 days.

R31 million water injection for drought-stricken Ndlambe Municipality (12 April 2011)

For the first time in more than five years, the drought-stricken Ndlambe Local Municipality did not experience water shortages during peak season last year due to drought relief interventions totaling some R31 million.  Source

The first project before even moving here, was to clear and check all the gutter for debris, blocks and leaks. With some help, we moved empty water tanks, and replaced broken tanks and moved them around the property to better catch rain water. Luckily there has been heavy rainfall in the area for the last few months and we have quite full rain tanks. We have a capacity on the farm for about 50000 litres of water that will be diverted from the roof to rainwater tanks.

I have adjusted the plumbing and diverted all grey water from bathrooms to garden beds, and the kitchen sink rerouted to the small herb garden outside the kitchen window. The mint is really enjoying the water and growing like mad. Mint tea on the menu.

The vegetable garden is already using a lot of water ,and currently only has about 4000 litres left until we make another plan. We have tried many different ways of watering our veggies to conserve water:

– installing a semi-hydro dripper system to feed the base of the plant under foliage instead of watering the leaves. We are watering under the mulch and canopy of leaves.
– only water in the late afternoon, so that water is not evaporated immediately by the  hot summer days.
– Using a mulch of donkey droppings and grass clippings to prevent moisture of the soil evaporating.
– Installed 60 cm long pipes vertical to the ground around fruit tress within the tyre, so that we can slowly water under the mulch and compost.
– Plans in way to use shade netting and existing fence poles to make a half greenhouse to keep smaller plants, cuttings, and seedlings. This will provide shade for them and conserve moisture loss due to evaporation.

A more long-term project is rebuilding our farms water system that is a total mess due to theft, vandalism and neglect. We also have to look at the entire water system, from catching, pumping, filtering, usage and recycling of water. We will be connecting an already sunk bore hole, and pump the water to large resiviour near the workshop. Due to the waters high lime content, it will hopefully settle in the resiviour and then be pumped to a bio filter and then pumped to the house for use. We are only considering using rain water for drinking water, once it has been filtered and cleaned.

It’s a lovely evening of rain, thunder and lightning. Hopefully more of this before winter sets in. Eastern Cape, although weather patterns have changed is generally dry in winter months with an average rainfall of 600mm per year, projected to increase to 900mm per year over the next 5 years. That is great news, but when could a weather man get the weather right.