The Rand Water Board announced this week that South Africa has been hit by the worst drought in 23 years!
The last droughts of this magnitude were in 1982 and 1991 and I remember them both! We are in for more heat waves, high incidences of fires and the hottest temperatures ever for this summer.
If we all do not start conserving water and monitoring our usage, we will be facing severe restrictions. Kwa Zulu Natal is already on restrictions.
Karl Labout of Rand Water stated that if we do not make changes the Vaal Dam with be empty within a year.
Water rationing is in place in KZN areas. The most affected being Durban, Stanger, Balito Bay, Ndwedwe, Richards Bay and areas supplied by the Hazelmere Dam which according to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube has only 2 months of water left!
The areas where restrictions are in place are allotted a certain amount of water per day. If you use it up, you wait till the next day. Time tables are being given out weekly as they have (as Darren Wackhead Simpson of 947 Radio stated) load shedding for water!
Those with boreholes are less affected as they are not reliant on dam water. The water board is looking into digging more boreholes around the country.
Johannesburg and Tshwane have been placed on mild restrictions and you cannot use your hosepipe to wash cars, nor water gardens between the hours of 6 am to 6 pm, until further notice. We are expected to use watering cans and only water the plants and not the grass.
The Western Cape is sure to follow shortly, with the lowest recorded rainfall this winter in about 75 years, according to the City Council. They will be meeting soon to make their decisions.
How do we cope with water restrictions coming up to the holiday season when people are traveling?
Padkos (Literally, road food) – the staple of any good adventurer! My father is a firm believer in padkos, even if the trip is only JHB to Bella Bella (Warmbaths) which is, at most, 2 hours away. For most trips we pack sweets and chips (crisps) and cold drinks but now it would be a good idea to be more discerning of what we pack, whether you are travelling in a car for long distances, or going on a hike or walking trail, somewhere in this beautiful country of ours.
Foods that help keep you hydrated are important, so avoiding sugary drinks and chocolates is, however difficult, very important. Fruits like watermelons, oranges, grapefruits, peaches, nectarines and strawberries are great for staying hydrated as they contain large amounts of water and natural sugars.
The problem with sugary drinks and sweets is that they make you crave more sugar and this will make you thirstier. There is a scientific reason for this and if you want a deeper explanation, feel free to email me and ask. The basic explanation is that sugar absorbs water.
Banters, you are in luck! Coconut water is fantastic, not only for keeping you hydrated, but also supplying you with the needed electrolytes, vitamins, calcium and magnesium you lose while sweating.
With the excessive heat that the country is going to be experiencing, please read my previous article on heat related illnesses.
Here are some of the tips I remember from the previous water restriction period. These are good habits to have in general, as water will always be a precious commodity and deserves to be looked after.
1. When brushing your teeth, wet your brush and then turn off the tap; don’t let it run while you are brushing.
2. Have showers not baths; in my house shower time is also limited to 7 minutes each. This took a while for the family to get into but it definitely helped our budget and now it will help with water saving.
3. Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need.
4. As water shortages increase, do not flush your toilet every time you use it. The old saying was, ‘If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it is brown, flush it down.’
5. As much as I dislike using the disinfectant hand gels, (my hands just don’t feel clean unless I use soap and water) it is something people need to look at as you can’t wash your hands all the time, if there is a water shortage.
6. Don’t mop your floors every day, twice a week is often enough; if there is a very dirty section just wash that.
7. Don’t throw the dirty water down the drain after washing, use it in the garden.
8. Use your dishwasher! It not only uses less electricity but it also uses less water! Obviously only use it when it is full.
9. Another water saving tip, I remember from the last drought is putting a brick or weighted bottle into the cistern of the toilet to reduce the amount of water used when flushing.
Remember if you are travelling to rural areas, take along water purification tablets.
Stay water conscious and stay cool this summer.