Thursday, 12 November 2015

A Life Without Water

It is day four of live sans H2O and I am officially scared of what lies ahead.

Okay, that is not entirely true, it is day four of no water flowing through our taps- we are fortunate to have a couple of borrowed drums of water and a full swimming pool (aka our new source of water for flushing toilets) and access to shower at the houses of family members who have not yet been affected by the water crisis. We also had water for a few hours last night, allowing us a chance to top up containers.

What on earth is going on in Johannesburg? Well, we are in the middle of a heatwave inflicted drought, coupled with a poorly maintained water infrastructure. For weeks, we have had low water pressure, with just trickles of water coming out of our taps (we live at the top of a steep hill and apparently higher areas are the first to be affected). Then, over the weekend, a massive power failure meant that the little water there was could not be pumped from the reservoirs and suddenly- crisis, with no water in several parts of Johannesburg. Mass panic ensued, with bottled water at local stores running out at some places. While tankers with water were deployed by yesterday, I am told that the water brought was smelly and did not appear suitable for human consumption (we were still stocked up so I did not witness this myself). To top it all, we have a tummy-bug ridden toddler and not enough water for those delightful projectile vomit clean ups.

Times are tough but we are reminded of just how privileged we have always been to enjoy an abundance of water. While inconvenienced, we have plenty to drink and just about enough for everything else. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of those in places where no water is a norm, leading to illness and dehydration. 

While we can point fingers at government for the current crisis we face, we can all do a little to save the little of this precious resource that we have. I am scared to think of the consequences if action is not taken soon. There is no indication as to when the current situation will improve, so we all need to do our share to save water.

While we all pray for rain, here are some things we can all proactively do:

  • Jo'burgers with water, please share with those without. It has been nice to see the spirit of community in our area, with those with tap water letting those without fill up.
  • Adhere to the current city regulations of not watering plants during the day time. In fact, avoid watering them at all if you can. Yesterday, I saw several homes with sprinklers on full blast in a neighbouring suburb.
  • If you are fortunate enough to have water, ensure that all taps are properly shut when not in use and fix leaky faucets. 
  • Install eco-friendly taps and shower heads if you can afford to do so and adjust your toilet flow so that the minimum is used for flushing.
  • Use water responsibly and sparingly. 
  • Close taps while brushing teeth and while lathering up in the shower. 
  • While you are waiting for the shower to heat up, collect shower water in buckets for use elsewhere.
How have you been affected by the water crisis? Please share.