Water Saving in Cape Town

VALUABLE RESOURCES

 

Guides for Saving Water

Safe Use of Greywater booklet (PDF Format)

Smart_Office_Handbook: Chapter 06_- Water_Conservation (PDF Format)

Top Ways to Save Water (PDF Format)

 

Videos

Please note that the following video is only available in Afrikaans, but the visuals clearly indicate the simplicity of manufacturing this device at home.


WATER WARRIORS: UNITE AGAINST DAY ZERO!

 

Countdown to Day Zero…currently set at 16 April 2018 means a mere 75 days remain unless we all act NOW!

 

As we all know, Cape Town is fast approaching the unimaginable day where the city is expected to run out of drinking water.  Our Premier, Ms Helen Zille, recently said “…the challenge exceeds anything a major City has had to face anywhere in the world since the Second World War or 9/11.”  Never in history has any city in the world run out of water, and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to do everything possible to try avoid Day Zero – the day the taps run dry.

 

As of 01 February 2018, the maximum amount of water permitted by any person living in Cape Town is 50 liters per day.  This small amount of water includes both household use and water used at work and anywhere else one should be during the day.

 

When considering the very real possibility we as Capetonians are facing, it is critical that each of us asks ourselves: Am I really doing everything I can to help prevent the city running out of water?  Am I saving water at home AND at work?

 

In all the plans published by the City of Cape Town and the province, to date no mention has been made of the availability of water to higher education institutions.  The only educational institutions guaranteed of access to drinking water so far is schools.  It is therefore even more critical that each and every one of us helps the College to help the rest of Cape Town save water and do our utmost to help prevent Day Zero.

 

During a survey of our campuses this week, it has been found that unfortunately not all campuses are taking the situation seriously.  We do however have an inspiring number of Water Warriors going all out to make a difference.

 

SO, WHAT IS CURRENTLY BEING DONE?

 

ATHLONE CAMPUS

Students and staff have committed themselves to saving water – inspiring teamwork in action!

 

Awareness

  • Discussions have been held in all classrooms to create awareness and obtain buy-in and support from all students. These discussions covered aspects of how students can save water in their respective centres and they were invited to share their suggestions with staff.
  • Posters have been created and placed across campus to create and maintain awareness and encourage water saving initiatives.
  • ECD students regularly share water saving ideas and take the initiatives back to the ECD Centres and the communities within which they work, thereby spreading awareness and involving the community in water saving efforts.

Toilets

  • A system of “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down” has been implemented in all toilets across campus. As reported in a previous edition of INTERACT, posters have been placed in all cubicles with a method of counting the number of uses before a toilet is flushed.  This system ensures that less water is used through the toilets only being flushed by the 4th person who uses it.
  • A brick has been placed inside the cistern of each toilet, thereby ensuring that less water is required each time the toilet flushes and refills. A plastic bottle filled with water (preferably grey water) serves the same purpose.

Water collection is done in cut open 20 liter drums, cut open 5 liter plastic bottles and buckets at all possible points where water leaves the physical structures, e.g.

  • Outlet pipes from air conditioners
  • Rain water

This water is used for watering the garden, flushing of toilets and cleaning purposes, e.g. washing of floors and windows.

Tap water

  • Plans are in place to turn off the taps to the basins in the students toilets as soon as hand sanitiser is delivered for student toilet facilities.
  • Hand sanitiser is also being used in staff toilets to save on the use of tap water for the washing of hands.

Drinking water

  • Staff have sacrificed full cups of tea or coffee for half cups and smaller cups to save water.
  • Where cups of tea or coffee get cold, staff rewarm these drinks in the microwave oven rather than throw out the cold drink to make a fresh, hot cup.

 

CITY CAMPUS

Toilets

  • A system of “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down” has been implemented in all staff toilets across campus. Posters have been placed in all cubicles with a method of counting the number of uses before a toilet is flushed.  This system ensures that less water is used through the toilets only being flushed by the 3rd person who uses it.
  • A brick has been placed inside the cistern of each toilet, thereby ensuring that less water is required each time the toilet flushes and refills. A plastic bottle filled with water (preferably grey water) serves the same purpose.

Tap water

  • Some taps have already been closed off, and water pressure and flow has been turned down on all taps across campus.
  • The use of hand sanitiser is proposed for staff toilets to save on the use of tap water for the washing of hands.
  • Cleaning staff are using much less water per bucket for the washing of floors, etc.

Awareness

  • Posters have been created and placed in all passages and toilets across campus to create and maintain awareness and encourage water saving initiatives.
  • Staff are making a dedicated effort to save as much water as possible, but the general student body unfortunately shows no concern for the saving of water.

 

GUGULETU CAMPUS

 

Four drums were installed on campus to collect rain water and water from air-conditioning outlet pipes.  This water is currently still being used by students for a car wash initiative to raise funds.  Although this initiative is praised as an innovative fund-raising project initiated by one of our lecturers in 2017, the concern remains that this water could be used more effectively at this stage to save on the use of drinking water.  During the writer’s visit to campus, the recommendation was made that water collected via these drums rather be used to flush toilets, wash floors and windows and therefore save greatly on drinking water being used.

Cleaning and maintenance staff on campus are currently implementing measures to save water:

  • Restricting water flow and pressure to internal taps
  • Locking or closing off of all external taps
  • Placing bricks in toilet cisterns

Mr Pierre Laubscher, Campus Manager, reported that discussions are currently underway with external service providers about putting measures in place to save on water consumption through restricting water flow and the installation of water tanks for water collection, amongst others.

 

CENTRAL OFFICE

  • Closed off 1 hand basin tap in each of the ladies and gents toilets.
  • Hand sanitisers will be installed and the outside taps have been shut off.
  • Plastic basins will be purchased for the kitchen where staff may wash and rinse their dirty dishes, as opposed to using running water to rinse off food residue, then washing and rinsing again, as we’ve seen some staff do.
  • Drinking water dispensers will be installed on a trial basis to monitor normal usage, and will hopefully be implemented after the trial period.

 

 STUDENT RESIDENCES

  • All baths have been closed off and only showers are being used with a strict 2-minute shower rule in place.
  • Laundry room access has been limited. Washing will only be done according to a firm schedule and only once they have a full load.  Roommates are required to share laundry loads.

 

WHAT MORE CAN WE DO?

 

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ALL CAMPUSES, STAFF AND STUDENTS

  • All campuses have been urged to purchase hand sanitiser for the ablution areas as well as close off excess taps and reduce the toilet count in both the staff and student toilets with the assistance from their maintenance staff and Keith Prins.
  • Host an awareness day – per department. Everyone needs to play their part!
  • Educate staff and students alike, to be mindful when using water, as it does not only affect them at home but at the college and the work place.
  • This awareness should be shared with all visitors, regardless of where they come from. Visitors need to adhere to all water saving measures put in place.  If we can reach and teach everyone, it will help in a big way as this is not only our crisis but a global one.
  • Staff and students should be requested to bring their own drinking water if provision is not possible through the college. The concern around installing water coolers/dispensers is possible theft or vandalism if these systems are not monitored.
  • Likewise, the use of hand sanitiser that we wish to place in the staff and student toilets must be done with saving in mind. EDUCATING everyone is key!
  • Purchase waterless car washing kits or services for College vehicles.
  • In the lead up to Day Zero, all watering of gardens should stop as water is more essential for other areas. Where landscaping does take place, drought resistant plants and grass must be the only option.  This might be more costly to implement, but we can at least minimise the water usage of watering plants and lawn areas.
  • Consideration must be given to the removal of lawn areas and replacing it with fake grass and conversion into common areas, e.g. tarred or picnic seating for students and staff.
  • Reduce the water flow across all building. This must include low flow shower heads and taps in the residences, in all taps across all sites.  The installation of timers is also an option to limit access to water flow.
  • Place a brick or sand filled 500ml/1 liter plastic bottle in the cistern of each toilet.
  • Change to water free urinals and use liquid chemicals for disinfection and cleaning.
  • Use waterless toilet sanitisers in all toilets, e.g. the ALBEX product available in the marketplace.
  • Install dual flush toilets with low flow. Again, this will initially be a costly exercise, but critically needed.  This is especially the case at Central Office where we still have very old cisterns that use up to 15 liters of water per flush.
  • Water coolers/dispensers to be stationed strategically and usage monitored. This is not to be used for staff and students to refill their 2 liter water drinking bottles.
  • Replace old equipment with new water-friendly and environmentally friendly equipment, i.e. dishwashers, washing machines (consider using industrial vs commercial equipment).
  • Update the equipment in our facilities and workshops, e.g. replace water cooled compressors with air cooled compressors (air-conditioners).
  • The Hospitality department and Residences should be encouraged to capture rinse water from food preparation for the next wash cycle.
  • Use paper plates when catering is provided at events to reduce the water used for washing dishes. Used paper plates can be recycled.
  • Use an empty 2 liter plastic cooldrink bottle with a cap. Drill a small hole near the base and insert a straw to use as water dispenser in bathrooms for washing hands.  See the video at the top of this page. (Only available in Afrikaans, unfortunately but the video shows the use of the DIY device clearly)

 

ESPECIALLY FOR THE RESIDENCES:

  • Cut down on unnecessary dishes, food trays, etc. Trays use more water to wash and rinse.
  • Naturally thaw frozen foods rather than laying meat in a tub of water. This means improved planning of menus and food preparation.
  • Use the rinsing water in which fruit and vegetables are rinsed to water surrounding plants, wash floors and windows, etc.
  • Sell refillable water bottles (possibly branded) to reduce the use of plastic water bottles or promote plastic recycling if you really need to use plastic. Refillable bottles and containers should also be considered as an option to reduce the use of dishes and the subsequent washing up of cups.
  • Monitor laundry usage and invest in high efficiency front-loading washing machines that use less water.
  • Collect the water from washing machines at each cycle and use the washing water for other cleaning purposes, eg. washing of floors, flushing of toilets, etc. whilst captured water from the rinse cycle water can be reused for the next washing load.
  • Regular inspections of equipment, taps, pipes, etc. to detect and repair any leaks or damage that could result in water being wasted.

 

General Recommendations

  • The education of all staff and students is vital to ensure the saving of water.
  • Simple reminders, stickers/signs must be displayed in high water usage areas, student toilets, etc.
  • The reporting of any leaks, dripping taps, etc. is EVERYONE’S responsibility.
  • Have an inter-campus or inter-residence competition to see which campus and/or residence saves the most water. The results must be based on the water usage account available from Finance to compare usage.
  • Share water usage data publicly and within campuses via internal communications, but also publish media releases on initiatives being used within the College to save water.
  • Enhance awareness of water usage so that those who consume can become more mindful.

 

We are all in this together.  Take a stand and be a Water Warrior for not only the College, but for the province and all who share our beautiful city!