Kirsty Carden from Cape Town

A drought changes your relationship with water

“Water is my life. It’s what I do on a daily basis. Working with water is about the importance of protecting it, and how we take this generation forward to the next.

I have been living in Cape Town since 1981, with a five year break. Once restrictions came we’d been living water-frugally already. We were not heavy users, but we did use water in the garden to keep it going. Still, we did not have a pool cover until 2017 when we realized this was stupid and we were losing a lot of water. Then we went quite strongly into water recycling. We remoulded our garden and started using buckets in the shower to harvest greywater. So the drought really sharpened our minds to how we could waste potable water for unnecessary uses. (Note: potable water is water that’s of a good enough quality to drink.)

A drought changes your relationship with water and the way you think about what water should be used for. Even though you think you are water wise, there are many uses that don’t require potable water.

Our water use has not changed much since the drought. We are still using about 42 litres per person per day. During the peak of the drought we got down to about 34. Before restrictions, prior to the drought, there would have been some months at the height of summer that we were using 160 litres per person per day. A lot of that was outdoors water.”

Why you should save water too

“No matter what water we drink, it has to be treated, and it uses a variety or resources. The planet is reaching the end of its available resources, and everything that we do, should be done within the limits of our planet.”

Kirsty’s tips to save water

“The toilet is the big one. Short showers too, and to switch the water off while soaping. Try to limit the clothes washing, unless you can use alternative water. Then, no water for outdoor use.  The changes that we made indoors include not having any toilets that flush with potable water. We have turned off our toilet taps. Outdoors, we covered our pool and changed our garden. We’ve taken out all of the lawn, for example.”

– Kirsty Carden from Cape Town, South Africa

*We have, of course, spoken to Kirsty before. She is with the Future Water Institute at the University of Cape Town, and spoke to us about guidelines for greywater use in South Africa – still one of the most popular blogs on the 50 litres site 

*Kirsty is not the only Capetonian we are talking to about living through this city’s water crisis. Nope, there are many others.

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