DRY: Theewaterskloof dam has been the hardest hit by the drought.

The Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS) level has been drawn down due to drought gripping the region. The Theewaterskloof Dam, which is one of the major dams in the WCWSS, has dropped to 17%.

The fact that the levels in the WCWSS are declining week by week means that all users need to urgently change our water culture.

There are some water practices that are of concern to the Department of Water and Sanitation, and these, among others, include the use of about one-third of our water at home for drinking, cooking, washing or personal cleaning.

About one-third is for flushing our toilets.

Surely grey water should be used for flushing toilets, rather than the scarce remaining potable water we have?

How can we even consider flushing with drinkable water?

About one-third of this precious resource is used for gardens, and this is not right either.

Raw water from our rivers, streams and dams is purified (removal of all nitrates and phosphates) to drinking water standards and then thrown on to the ground to water our plants!

This drinking water is chlorinated and is certified for irrigation.

Communities, too, particularly at household level, can make a difference, by also adopting the water recycling approaches to save water and energy.

For instance, don't use potable water to water gardens; use grey water instead.

Instal rainwater tanks and harvest rain water for swimming pools, the flushing of toilets and for washing cars.

As this department, we appeal to all water users to change the water culture and make lifestyle changes to adapt to climate change. “Water is life, sanitation is dignity.”

Water recycling has proven to be effective and successful in creating a new and reliable water supply.

This was evident when the south-western Cape and central Karoo faced the worst drought in 100 years during 2010.

Through water recycling interventions in towns such as Beaufort West and George the drought's bite was broken. There are many benefits associated with water recycling.

These are outlined below:

– Recycling of water can minimise the use of potable water for household activities such as watering gardens and flushing toilets.

– Water reuse can prevent and reduce pollution when pollutant discharges to oceans, rivers and other water bodies are curtailed.

– Moreover, in some cases, substances that can be pollutants when discharged to a body of water can be beneficially reused.

Malusi Rayi

Communications Department of Water and Sanitation, 

Western Cape