The Startling Truth about Our Most Precious Resource: Water

World Water Day was held on 22 March, 2017, but for many, it was just another Wednesday. What is astounding is how little people seem to mind that the availability of clean water in South Africa is actually becoming a real problem, for both rich and poor.

World Water Day has put together a report, and here are some of the facts.

  • Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused.
  • 8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year.
  • By 2030, global demand for water is expected to grow by 50%.
  • Industrial water consumption is responsible for 22% of global water use (UN-Water, 2012)
  • South Africa is dealing with worsening water scarcity. The Anglo American mining company built a water treatment plant that uses desalination technology to convert water from the mine into drinking water, and treat industrial water so it can be safely released into the environment. As an added benefit, in the treatment process, gypsum is separated from the water and used as a construction material. The plant provides a safe and secure water source to the city, meeting 12% of Emalahleni’s daily water needs.
  • Use of wastewater in farming. It is estimated that more than 40,000-60,000 km2 of land is irrigated with wastewater or polluted water (Jimenez and Asano, 2008), posing health risks to farmers and to eventual consumers of the agricultural products.

Read the full report here. 

Another fascinating and comprehensive report compiled by the WWF and Boston Consulting Group discusses South Africa’s water future. The report is shocking, but will go a long way towards helping government, manufacturers and individuals to tackle our water problem.

The report is called Scenarios for the Future of Water in South Africa, and is definitely worth a read if you have time.

What can you do to help save water?

First you need to know what uses the most water at home… and that’s the toilet.

  • Put a 5cm layer of sand or pebbles in the toilet tank. It seems insignificant, but it could save a few litres per day.
  • A toilet leak can waste bucket loads of water. The easiest way to check for a leak is to add a small amount of food colouring to the tank to see if it seeps through to the bowl.
  • As disgusting as this might seem to some of you, you should try to follow this rule at home…


Other water wasters

  • Limit your showers to a maximum of five minutes, and don’t fill your bath to more than half full. Water-saving shower heads are inexpensive and easy to install.
  • Check all internal and external pipes at home and make sure you have no leaks. Check your water meter while no one is using anything in the house. If the readings change, it could mean you have a leak.
  • Only wash clothes and dishes when the washer is full. Washing the dishes after each and every meal wastes an awful lot of water.
  • Watering your garden uses a lot of water. Try using a watering can instead or even better, use the grey water from your bath or washing machine and incorporate it into your watering habits. See how to safely use greywater here.

See Understanding Energy Labels on Appliances





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