Water Wise



Quite a dry winter with almost no rain in the last few weeks. A couple extra guests on Ramblers I had to make a decision and focus on sealing and renovating the water reservoir next to the workshop. With an extra two hands this took just over 2 days to complete. The following week I will be pumping water from a natural spring about 1km away to fill my reservoir and a couple rain tanks. Problem solved. I hope.

Below is a makeshift water filter using a 2 litre milk bottle, 32mm PVC pipe, a clamp, filled with shade netting and LECA to filter the water as naturally as possible.


Manage to catch the first leaf that fell onto the shade netting. The system is working!!!!



I used a central treated old dropper to keep things stable. Added 2 x 5 metres treated pine poles and inbetween used some nylon rope that will keep the shade netting securely down with the high winds that come from the valley. Its had no problems for 3 days. Things are looking good.


The dogs playing around while I was completing the days work.


After reading a post on about household water tasting like chlorine due to a friends poor husband maybe having a  heavy hand on the bottle. Below is a picture of our main water resource the Kowie River, it supplies local towns with majority of its water until the new Amatola Water Project kicks in the next 5 years. Water from the Fish river, and major boreholes will be piped the whole way down the  eastern coast (150km ) to hopefully solve the water crisis in the area.

With only a small percentage of  our total water being drinkable water, its a very delicate natural resource. We catch every raindrop possible since we only run on rain water, and water stands for a month or two without being used in large 2500, 5000 litre tanks. Drinking water is filtered through a homemade system to remove larger particles from dust to rust. i do try and boil water, but I have survived quite fine on rain water for 9 months now.

i started looking at ways to purify the water being stored for later use and found a couple good tips about bleaching  your water that stands.

1 – Always allow long standing pipes/taps to drain for atleast 30 seconds before drinking from it.
2- 20 litres of water can be purified using ordinary household bleach ( 1 teaspoon ). Purify 5000 litres with about 200 ml of bleach.  It should smell of chlorine after adding the bleach, if it does not repeat the process. the smell should go away after a few days.
3- Store water in the dark, it prevents bacteria and germs growing.
4 – Bleach effectively kills bacteria and viruses, stops smells and then breaks down. It’s effective germ killing alkaline property is completely neutralized very quickly.

 Sodium hypochlorite solution, referred to as ” common household chlorine bleach”, is not a seriously poisonous substance to humans. It is an alkaline salt. It is not an “acid”.  However It very, very effectively kills bacteria and viruses upon contact. It is the world-wide chemical of choice for treating drinking water, or for effectively sterilizing everything from shower stalls to surgical instruments. Truthfully, very heavily chlorinated water may be more irritating to the lungs – if it is used for showers, than it is harmful to the intestinal tract if used for drinking purposes. Even drinking straight household bleach rarely results in death. The alkaline properties of undiluted bleach may cause painful chemical burns to the esophagus and stomach – but it is not deadly poisonous. Bleach must always be kept out of the reach of children – because not only might they drink it – they may get it in their eyes. Sauce

alkaline salt

Hopefully some of these water saving tips can help you now and into the future.

1. Never leave a tap open with water running. Open, close, use water. Turning a tap off while brushing your teeth can save you 100 litres a month.
2. Repair all leaks on plumbing and taps, both inside and outside. That can save you a few thousand litres a month!!
3. Recycle your grey water. Baths, showers, basins and kitchen sinks can water garden beds around the house. This can save as much as 40% of your water usage. Convert to eco-friendly cleaning products, this can be beneficial to your plants.
4. Install rain water tanks, the bigger the better ( 5000 litres ), catch-all that water running down your gutters to be reused to wash your car, water your garden or many other things.
5. Fit a multi-flush system to your toilet system, or place a brick in the cistern.Too much water is used for toilet anyway.
6. Convert to hydro drippers instead of garden sprinklers. They focus the water where it is needed and water the plants under the foliage.
7. Mulch your garden, this can save thousands of litres of water, prevents evaporation, and depending what mulch you use, can provide a lot of benefits to your plants.
8. Shower quickly rather than bath. Save a bath for once a week, enjoy it more.
9. Install a cover over your pool or water storage. The sun can evaporate a lot of water over a wide area.
10. Think before you use water, educate someone else if you see them abusing water.

Please feel free to post comments on ideas you have to save water.

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.

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I found some abandoned tyres at the local dump site earlier today. I decided to take all five tyres home and use them in some project around the house. You could use them as gardening beds. Also as a garden/retaining wall. As a dog basket using larger tyres or you could stack four on top of each other use the tyres as a wormery.

We only had five tyres and no worms. So after a braai it was decided to use them in the orchard to assist with mulching and adding compost to the newly transplanted fruit trees. I carefully lowered the tyres around teh stems of the fruit trees and carefully positioned on the grass.

I had some spare piping from the watering system and placed them in the middle of the tyre near the base of the tree. I then added a 1 inch layer of retted grass cuttings and pushed it into the walls of the tyre. I then added compost about 4 inches thick. Using your foot or spade work the soil into the tyres walls and pat it down softly. The pipe should be upright.

Using a watering can I saturate the soil with water and pour water into the pipe to access the base of the fruit tree. The purpose of this is to add vital compost and give a last spurt of nutrients before the winter period. The sun evapourates most of the water around the base of the tree, so this would provide a way to conserve water and be used as a mulch. The pipe is used to provide a channel to the base of the plant so water can reach deep below the mulch.

Next project is to start a stack of 2 x 4 tyres for a wormery that is needed for composting, wormcastings and worm tea.

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