Cape Town water in danger of running dry

In 10 years Cape Town’s population has rocketed from 2,9m to 3,7m and it will hit 4,4m in 2020. What is not growing is the city’s already precarious water supply.

Appeals to save water, and a ban on watering gardens between 10am and 4pm is making little difference

“Even in a year of normal rainfall our dams are being drawn down faster than they are filling,” says Jeremy Taylor, founder of water conservation specialist Water Rhapsody. Sharing his view, Peter Johnstone of the University of Cape Town’s Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSA G) warns: “Water supply is falling below demand.”

This, says Taylor, is evident in the level of Cape Town’s six dams, which have fallen despite a 17% increase in total capacity created by the new Berg River Dam in 2009.

The six dams, reports the City of Cape Town, stood at 57,4% of combined capacity on March 19, down from 74% of five dams four years earlier. Dam levels are falling by almost 2%/week as the Western Cape faces its second year of below-average winter rainfall.

“Until the end of May and even into June it appears that the Western Cape will get very little rain,” says Johnstone. The CSAG’s forecast indicates that in March, April and May, rainfall will be 50%-80% of average, while June will see 80%-100% of average.

“Forecasts are tricky, but so far this year, our prediction of below-average rainfall has been accurate,” says Johnstone. He adds that the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research’s Western Cape rainfall forecast to June is in line with the CSAG’s. “If there is no rain by the end of March, the city must act swiftly to curb water use,” he says . Continue reading

We can all reduce water consumption

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 25 Aug 2011

It’s not only businesses and public entities that should assume the responsibility of saving water, but homeowners can play a major role as well.

A Cape Town school recently installed a Water Rhapsody Poolside Tank to recycle up to 15000 litres of swimming pool backwash water every week; sending the clarified water safely back to the pool.

CEO of car rental company Avis, Wayne Duvenage, did not mince his words at the Sustainable Water Resource Conference and Exhibition; attended by leading water experts and business people.

Recycling water for reuse in buildings was the experts’ principal recommendation. Homeowners are also advised to go for recycling technologies.

Avis saved 75-million litres of water in 2010 in its major centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Harvesting rainwater is a focus of Avis’ recycling efforts. “You know how much it rains in Cape Town, so it’s nice to switch off municipal water and use rainwater,” said Duvenage.

South Africa is water-stressed, experts at the conference revealed. Reports have pointed out that the country runs the risk of facing critical shortages by 2020.

“South Africa is stressed both in the quantity and quantity of water that we have,” Duvenage said.

Alison Groves, a sustainability consultant at WSP Green by Design, said: “In South Africa we need to get beyond the idea that water is always going to be available.”

New solutions are needed to sustain potable water availability, Groves added. Continue reading

Harvest rainwater and use it in the home

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 01 June 2011

Now that winter is here it’s a good time to install a rainwater tank and reduce your home’s reliance on Cape Town’s precious water.

5000 litre tank used to supply home with harvested rainwater


A rainwater tank is a great way to make a difference to the environment and reduce your annual household water and sewerage costs.

It’s always a good time to install a rainwater tank, and now makes good sense given our winter rainfall pattern.

The average rainfall for Cape Town is approximately 600mm per annum. 10mm of rain on 100sqm of roof provides up to 1000 litres of stored water. A 100sqm roof will provide a whopping 60,000 litres a year.

Homeowners have the ability to make a great difference to the local water supply simply by installing a tank and system that will allow for the use of the stored water throughout their home and garden.


Contrary to belief you don’t need a big tank to make good use of harvested rainwater for your home.

The size of the tank is calculated using the roof catchment area, type of roof, number of people in the home, etc., and the tank can be as small as 1500 litres. Harvested rainwater is drawn down constantly and replenished at each rainfall. So it makes no sense to have 10000 litres of storage capacity when the roof size and rainfall cannot fill the tanks. Continue reading

Grey water will green your garden all year round

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 16 April 2011

Installing a grey water system provides safe garden irrigation all year round and saves money and water.

Using grey water for irrigation

Grey water is waste water from baths, basins showers and washing machines, and can be used safely to irrigate lawns and gardens provided certain rules are followed.

Rule 1. The correct choice of washing powders is necessary to avoid harm to plants (also see: Commercial washing powders destroy wetland). The use of a phosphate-free washing powder is required as well as avoiding fabric softeners or sodium hypochlorite, eg Jik. Provided that laundry washing powder is changed to one that is phosphate free, grey water is perfectly safe for all gardens, including fynbos.

Rule 2. It is important to avoid wastewater from kitchen sinks and dishwashers as this wastewater contains detergents that can harm your garden.

Rule 3. When harvesting grey water it is necessary to expel the wastewater to the garden immediately – it may not be stored for later use, as in a short period the grey water turns to black water.

Once grey water has been correctly identified it is re-routed from the gully (sewer) to a small chamber from where it is automatically and silently pumped to the garden for irrigation. This is normally sent to a flexible hose and pyramid style sprinkler, providing up to 6 meters of spray.

A correctly installed system must also be connected to the sewer pipe line. This will ensure that any overflow, e.g. caused by a power failure, will see the grey water sent to sewer.

Water Rhapsody has 18 years of experience in grey water solutions, and provides a complete system installation; leaving you with years of free water and a green, healthy garden.

Water Rhapsody – 18 years of water conservation experience for your home or business

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 03 April 2011

In the early 1990s water conservation pioneer, Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor, was dedicated to bringing water conservation to the residential home and business.

Saving water with Water Rhapsody Conservation Systems

In 1995 his efforts were rewarded with a WWF Green Trust Award for water conservation.

Today Water Rhapsody is a national concern with 25 outlets that provide professional advice on how water conservation can be introduced to your home or business.

With over 3000 installations Water Rhapsody can clearly state that they are the leaders in water conservation.

Water Rhapsody systems include:

1.       Garden Rhapsody (grey water) for garden irrigation or toilet flushing;
2.       Grand Opus – a rainwater harvesting solution for the home that augments municipal supply;
3.       Rainwater Harvesting for garden irrigation, pool top-up, washing cars, etc.;
4.       Poolside Tank to safely clarify swimming pool backwash water and return this to the pool;
5.       Multi Flush where the least amount of water is used to clear the toilet pan;
6.       Poseidon systems for recycling of mild industrial wastewater, car washing, machine washing, industrial laundry and irrigation.

To learn more about these systems click on the links above.