Rainwater Harvesting | Greywater Systems | Water Tanks | Irrigation | Sustainability | Water Conservation |

Cape Town Dam Levels, winter 2015

Water levels at the 6 major dams that supply the City of Cape Town are starting to look bleak. There is however another 6 weeks of winter rainfall left before the weather starts heating up and this will hopefully rescue the City from severe water restriction over summer.

Storage levels from 2011 – 2015

20 July 2015

DAM BULK STORAGE            
  CAPACITY % % % % Current


  Ml 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 13 July
WEMMERSHOEK 58,644 73.1 59.1 97.7 99.9 58.4 52.9
STEENBRAS LOWER 33,517 64.7 81.4 79.9 89.7 59.3 55.4
STEENBRAS UPPER 31,767 89.8 101.2 90.6 98.1 68.4 66.8
VOËLVLEI 164,095 76.8 61.1 78.0 91.7 41.5 40.2
THEEWATERSKLOOF 480,188 76.8 67.3 85.6 104.2 59.6 55.4
BERG RIVER 130,010 82.6 88.9 100.8 101.4 69.1 60.7
TOTAL STORED 898,221 695,265 633,330 783,035 902,323 520,052 481,594
% STORAGE   77.4 70.5 87.2 100.5 57.9 53.6

Data taken from www.capetown.gov.za


Water outage expected in Ladysmith unless it rains

water saving and recycling

Save water

Western Cape authorities say they fear Ladismith may experience a drought if its local dam doesn’t fill up soon.

Following unusually low rainfall in the area in recent years, the Jan F Le Grange dam is unable to sustain the town.

Officials say a crack in the dam wall has exacerbated the problem, limiting its maximum capacity to 60 percent.

Local Government and Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell says the region is on the brink of a water crisis.

“We’ve only got water left for one month, it’s becoming a crisis. We will set up meetings with the municipality on the provincial disaster management side we will institute water saving measures and request the public work with us on this because we don’t know when we will get more rain in that area.”

Source: EWN

What to do in the face of water outages as dam levels drop.

Dam levels in the Western Cape are dropping quickly due to the summer heat and residence not using water sparingly. Rain is the only way that could save many household from drying up as other water sources, including desalination are not available or too cost intensive.

By harvesting rainwater and recycling greywater the average household could save as much as 90% of their water bill. Over the rainy months households can expect to not use municipal water at all. During the dry summer months household can supplement their rainwater supplies with municipal water while recycling their greywater (bath, shower and laundry water) for garden irrigation.

Not only does rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse minimise  municipal water use but it allows for municipal independence and off-grid living.

Water usage identified as important way to ease electricity crisis

water pump

Water pump station


Stellenbosch University’s Eugene Cloete on Wednesday presented a report commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology, and prepared by a panel of local and international experts from the Academy of Science of SA. The experts volunteered their time.

The State of Green Technologies in SA report was released as SA searches for quick fixes to address a crisis arising from breakdowns in Eskom’s ageing and poorly maintained fleet, which have led to more frequent load shedding.

While the government has given Eskom a mandate to buy power from independent producers, there was a need for a separate buying entity to level the playing field. But the draft bill to create one, the Independent Systems and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill, was blocked in Parliament in March.

Prof Cloete said consumers should be educated about cutting water usage, as pumping water consumed quite a lot of electricity. In Gauteng this would require discussions among Rand Water, East Rand Water and Eskom. “In my opinion, we don’t value water because it is too cheap,” he said.

The longer-term green solution to the country’s power crisis was to make significant capital investment in technologies such as nuclear energy. That required decisions to be made immediately, Prof Cloete said.

He said green technologies could be rolled out in the water sector. This included rain-water harvesting and water purification in the treatment of municipal waste, to derive both water and chemical products; finding less water-intensive sanitation systems; and treating acid mine drainage in the mining sector.

Source: BDLive

How has this affected Cape Town?

In November and December last year large parts of Durbanville and Tygervalley (Cape Town, Northern Suburbs) had water outages due to water pumps not operating. Many businesses were and homes had to endures hours of drought. This can all be overcome with a personal rainwater harvesting system or even a municipal water back up system.

With aging infrastructure, both water and electric, it is certain that this will become a more common occurrence. If you are dependent or reliant on the municipality to supply you with water then you will need to start making some allowances to cover yourself when the water stops flowing to your homes water meter. Are you prepares for this? We can easily live without electricity for a day or two without too much hassle, but how long can you live without water? 

8 Advantages of having your own rainwater harvesting system

rainwater tapResidents from Hilton, Winterskloof and Mount Michael are angry and frustrated after suffering through almost three weeks of continuous water cuts.

They are now demanding action from the uMgungundlovu District Municipality, or they say they will take the municipality to court.

The Umgungundlovu District Municipality’s Bheki Mbambo apologised to residents for the inconvenience of the unplanned water cuts.

He explained that the problem was mainly to do with the ageing infrastructure in the area.

“The pipelines in the affected areas are very old, and there are several leaks that have been detected which we are trying to fix.

Source: IOL

Reports, similar to the one above, are on the increase with residence finding them selves, unexpectedly, without water. Unfortunately there is little we as residence can do other than report leaks as we spot them. The true problem falls on the government and municipality and with years of no or improper maintenance to infrastructure the situation is bound to get much worse. Instead of asking and nagging the government to do something about it, residence could be asking themselves a different question to secure a water supply.

That question is:

How can I help myself, how can I secure my own water supply for my family?

There is a solution, that has been around for many, many years but we were conned into believing the government could do better. The solution is an integrated rainwater harvesting supply. These have many advantages.

8 Advantages of having your own rainwater harvesting system:

1) You harvest your own water – You own it.

2) It’s free

3) Water quality can easily be regulated.

4) The water storage tanks act as an emergency water supply. (no reliance on government / municipalities)

5) Rainwater can be sent into the home for all purposes. (Baths, showers, toilets, drinking, laundry, gardening)

6) Rainwater does not contain nasty tasting chlorine.

7) You get off the grid. (Government proof your home)

8) Life goes on as you imagined and planned. (No more disruptions or waiting)

Large parts of Johannesburg with out water

While South Africans are bracing for regular power cuts, Johannesburg residents will be without water this weekend.

water supply problemsThe city will be doing maintenance on its Eikenhof Pump Station from Saturday evening at 6pm until Sunday evening at 7pm.

Johannesburg Water’s Eleanor Mavimbela says large parts of the city will be affected.

“Roodepoort, Randburg, Soweto, Langlaagte and Southdale are among the areas that will be without water.”

She said Rand Water will still supply water but at lower capacity and there might be low pressure but water tanks will be provided in those areas.

Last year, a number of suburbs in Johannesburg were without water for several days because of a power outage at its Eikeinhof Pumping Station.

Rand Water attributed the widespread shortages to high demands due to warmer weather conditions.

Source: EWN

Haven’t we heard this before; urgent maintenance to infrastructure causes water and power outage… Unfortunately this is a reality that many South Africans will come accustomed to if they aren’t already. Years of improper maintenance has crippled state infrastructure to the point where even the smallest glitched leave the country unable to cope with demand.

What does it take to government proof your home? 

A well designed rainwater harvesting system will allow your home to be off the grid for several months a year, while also acting as an emergency water supply. This type of system will allow you to automatically switch over from rainwater to municipal water should you need to. The typical system is made up of the following components:
Rainwater storage tank
Pressure pump with controller
Reticulation manifold
Pressure vessels
Rainwater filters


Fed up with poor service delivery; do-it-yourself!

Fed up with waiting for service delivery, the middle class is stepping up.

Do you want things to be done, and done properly, in 2015? Then do it yourself. Behave as if government is not going to deliver any services, and if it does, see that as a bonus.

Water problemsThe poor management and planning, deployment of loyal cadres not up to the job, attempts at state capture, corruption and weak political leadership of the last decades are now really adding up and taking their toll. There are no signs that matters will improve in 2015.

DIY is the future. The middle classes are already doing a lot of that.


If you live in a municipality with poor water delivery, stop moaning. For only R1 800 you can buy a 1 000-litre plastic rainwater tank – or if you have spare cash, R4 400 for a 5 000-litre tank or just over R10 600 for a 10 000-litre tank. You get good, clean rainwater and it’s for free. Use your greywater for your garden.


What would you talk about if we didn’t have electricity blackouts? It’s easy and cheap enough to do something about it.

When Eskom started “load shedding” last November, I had a crisis with WiFi and electricity for my computers and a few lights. I quickly bought a small generator for R1 600 that took care of all of that for the two hours or so per day I was without power. If I had more time, I would have shopped around for an affordable solar system to do that job. I use gas for heating water and for cooking. No problem.

Again, if you have a bit of spare cash, go completely off the grid. A moderate household using a gas geyser and stove and LED lights needs no more than a solar power system of about R70 000. Up your generating ability a bit and soon you can sell electricity back to Eskom. What is more, it’s cool to be green.


Last year I got really fed up with the people in my neighbourhood constantly complaining about potholes on our streets. They would come by week after week and talk about little else: they are now big enough for a dog swimming pool, one would say, and another would complain that they had damaged his car’s exhaust system.

So I went to the hardware store and bought two 25kg bags of Ready Mix Hot Tar for a mere R50 each. I dug out the holes, filled them with the bitumen, banged it down and they were fixed – they’re still fixed nine months later. This is now being done in other neighbourhoods too.

Sure, it really is the job of local government. But would you rather blame and sulk or do you want your streets to be better?

Source: Moneyweb

To secure our own source of water you need a water tank. Whether you fill it with municipal water or rainwater, is up to you. However rainwater is free and during the rainy months your tank will constantly be topped up with every rain shower. 

Once you have a tank full of rainwater it’s time to start using this water and why not pump it straight back into your home and use it for baths, shower, toilet flushing and what ever else you may want to use the water for. Remember its your’s and its free.

If you just want to save water then the most cost effective way to do that is to reuse your greywater for irrigation. This means your garden will get water when ever you and your family bath, shower or do laundry. This is a lot of water that your plants and trees can use throughout months of water restrictions and during times of water outages.  

The emerging water crisis in South Africa

South Africans use 235 litres of water each a day compared to the international average of 173 litres – which is pushing the country into a water crisis that will, within a decade, rival the electricity catastrophe.

This is coupled with ageing infrastructure and a backlog of water delivery to communities because not enough money is being pumped into infrastructure.

This is the picture painted by the Institute of Security Studies in a report called “Parched Prospects: The emerging water crisis in South Africa” which was released last year.

The ISS focuses on all aspects of human security including poverty, development and resources.

The report said high use, coupled with waste, poor planning, abuse, and looming climate change, was creating

the predicament.

In an interview Dr Jakkie Cilliers, a co-author of the report, told The Mercury that 60% of the 223 river ecosystems were threatened and 25% were critical.

“If we don’t start dealing with the water problem, we are going to get into a situation where the margins are going to get really tight and water restrictions will be severe.”

Cilliers said water management needed to be made a priority as there was insufficient capacity to build enough dams.

“Low and unpredictable supply coupled with high (and growing) demand and poor use of existing water resources make South Africa a water constrained country.”

With evaporation levels that are three times more that the low annual rainfall, South Africa is already the 30th driest country in the world.

He was doubtful about the policy interventions proposed in the latest National Water Resource Strategy. These included improving planning and management and increasing supply to meet growing demand.

“Unfortunately the government’s current plans to address our water inefficiency are not sufficient. There’s strong evidence of years of underinvestment in water infrastructure. As a result there is a backlog of communities who don’t have access to clean water coupled with the issue of ageing infrastructure,” said Cilliers.

Environmentalist Di Jones said the target for all South Africans to have access to clean water by 2030 would only be realised if water management was made a priority.

“I’m not against desalination and building of new dams, but I think we should first look at less costly measures to stretch the litres that we already have, and consumers must start saving water in their homes.”

Jones said upgrading the ageing infrastructure had to be a priority as it crippled the economy with millions of litres lost through leaks.

“Our dams need to be desludged to maximise capacity… Hazelmere Dam is said to be 37% full, but that’s not true because about 15% is sludge,” said Jones.

She suggested that industries and agriculture start using greywater instead of potable water.

A decline in demand is expected after 2035, but only in industry, thanks to the onset of renewable-energy production which does not require water for cooling.

The municipal and agricultural sectors would increase demand because of rural-urban migration and the government’s plan to increase irrigated land by 33%.

To mitigate the strain on water systems, Umgeni Water has budgeted R5 billion for the next five years for six augmentation projects including raising Hazelmere Dam’s wall.

Also under construction is the R2bn Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Scheme.

“We are also looking into desalination, and feasibility studies have been conducted for two sites, in Lovu and Seatides (Tongaat),” said Umgeni’s Shami Harichunder.

Cilliers said desalination was costly at first and probably less viable because of the energy crisis. However, it would be beneficial to coastal areas and less expensive with new technology in renewable energy in the future.

Angela Masefield of the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation conceded that some river systems were under strain.

“We are constantly monitoring demand to ensure that we can give citizens, industries and agriculture assurances that they will have water in the future.”

Besides climate change, Masefield’s other concern was the high level of non-revenue water lost through leaks, waste and theft.

In 2013 the WRC released a report on a study, conducted on 132 municipalities, which said about 36.8% of water use brought in no revenue. Of this, 25.4% was lost to leaks. This was similar to the estimated world average of 36.6% but was high in comparison to other developing countries.

“We sometimes find that even those who can afford to pay for water choose not to pay and then there are those who are ‘luxurious’ with water, resulting in the household usage being higher than it should be. This, coupled with illegal connections, results in the system being unstable,” said Masefield.

Source: IOL

Other than using greywater form irrigation, rainwater can be harvested and used to inside home for baths, showers, flushing toilets and laundry. This could get the typical home off the grid during the rainy season. Over the dryer seasons a home would then supplement its rainwater supply with municipal water.

Having a water tank also safe guards  a home against unexpected water outages as the tank acts as an emergency water supply.


JOHANNESBURG – Reports are coming in this afternoon that several suburbs in western Johannesburg are still without water despite Johannesburg Water insisting supply has been restored.

Some areas are without supply for a third day after a power outage disabled a Rand Water pumping station in Eikenhof.

Areas that have been affected include Honeydew, Muldersdrift and Rietfontein.
Rand Water’s Justice Mohale says it’s difficult at this stage to say when supply will be fully restored to affected areas.

Source: EWN

By using a water tank to store a possible combination of rainwater or municipal water, many of the issues experienced by those without out water could be avoided. From the water storage tank, the  water can be pumped back into the house under balanced pressure to meet the requirements of the home, office or factory.

When rainwater is used in conjunction with municipal water, vast quantities of (free) rainwater can be stored and used when required. Even when there are total water outages a bout of rain can easily top the tank back up an supply a home with water as if no water outage had ever happened.

Knysna faces water shortage

Knysna water shortageThe Knysna Municipality says parts of the town are experiencing water shortages due to low rainfall this winter season.

Sedgefield is one of the areas most affected by the shortage.

The municipality says it has been sending out messages to alert residents about the problem.

The municipality’s Mike Rhode is urging the community to reduce their water usage.

“With the lower rains we have received for the past few days, rivers start running dry or rather low, and then we are under stress to process water and send it out to our customers.”

Source: EWN

The use of greywater for irrigation could reduce the water consumption of the typical home by 30%.  While using water saving toilet flush mechanism could save a further 20%.

War on water leaks

Water problemsMayors and councillors should be at the fore front of the fight against water leakages in South Africa, says KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu.

Mchunu was visiting KwaMashu Township in Durban on Tuesday as part of the government’s War on Water Leaks campaign.
“We will continue with this campaign across the province, and mayors and councillors must demonstrate leadership and be at the forefront of this campaign,” Mchunu said, while encouraging communities to report water leaks and illegal connections to the authorities.
“Through the War on Water Leaks campaign, we are educating the people of this province about the importance of fixing leaking taps in their homes,” he said, noting that one drop per second from a leaking tap wasted up to 30 litres of water an hour, meaning that one household could waste 10 000 litres of water per year through leaking taps.

Source: SouthAfrica.info