The need to conserve water, cannot be stressed enough, making the maximum use of water resources is especially important in countries with limited access to water such as South Africa. The average rainfall of South Africa is 397 mm, compared with a world average of 860 mm. Conflicts are bound to arise concerning the use made of water sources, in particular rivers. Water is very important for all life form, all living animals and plants need water to survive. It is so for that reason that conserving water is very important.
Nelson Mandela once said:
“We in South Africa have ourselves faced hard questions and had to make hard choices in this regard. We know that political freedom alone is still not enough if you lack clean water. Freedom alone is not enough without light to read at night, without time or access to water to irrigate your farm, without the ability to catch fish to feed your family. For this reason the struggle for sustainable development nearly equals the struggle for political freedom. They can grow together or they can unravel each other. Threats to our governments in the century ahead will come from poverty, if anything.”
Factors contributing to a serious water crisis in South Africa are:
Our increasing human population leads to an increase in water consumption – many of whom who do not have adequate access to water. Water loss through a high evaporation rate. Siltation of dams. An increase in droughts, maybe a cause of global climate change, or due to pollution.
Ways to conserve water
1. Reduce, Re-use and Repair
Reduce your daily usage of water and identify ways in which you can be efficient in water usage. Be more water wise. Put a 1 litre plastic bottle filled with water in a toilet’s cistern to reduce the amount of water used when flushed. A toilet uses 11 litres of water every time it is flushed and is the biggest user of indoor water. If a toilet is used 16 times a day at a section it will use 176 litres of water per day. If a 1 litre plastic bottle is placed in the cistern, the section can save 16 litres of water per day by being water wise. Reduce your daily usage of electricity. Water is used in the generation process of electricity. Switch off the lights as well as other electrical appliances when no one is present in the office for a long period of time or at home in the rooms that are not used, switch off the lights.
Re-use water wherever possible. Virtually all water coming out of a tap can be used at least twice and is called grey water. Identify water that you can re-use elsewhere. Some plants don’t respond well to soaps and detergents, but grey water can be re-used on most lawns.
Repair leaking pipes, taps and toilets cisterns. A dripping tap can waste as much as 60 litres of water per day or 1 800 litres per month. A leaking toilet can waste up to 100 000 liters of water per year.
2. Invasive plants and the environment
Invading alien plants have become established in over 10 million hectares of land in South Africa and are the single biggest threat to plant and animal biodiversity. These plants waste 7% of our water resources, intensify flooding and fires; cause erosion, destruction of rivers, siltation of dams and estuaries, poor water quality and can cause a mass extinction of indigenous plants and animals. These plants consume more water than indigenous plants and therefore lead to the loss of water in catchments. This is the reason why these plants need to be removed.