Borehole users must save water too, City says

Lee-Ann Laufs and her son Nicholas, stand near the special pipe her husband Shaun attached to the gutters to divert rainwater into the pool.

“When the water is up, the water is up. We can live without electricity but we can’t live without water,” said Lee-Ann Laufs, of Kirstenhof.

Residents have been advised to use both sparingly but, until recently, Cape Town was little affected by the national drought.

However, low rainfall this year has seen the City of Cape Town implementing Level 3 water restrictions.

This means that as of November 1, recreational and gardening water use is limited to buckets – no hose pipes or plastic pools allowed – and there will be a water tariff increase as of today, Thursday December 1.

But are the restrictions applicable to people who have boreholes? This question raged on the Tokai Community Facebook page last week.

Ms Laufs has a well-point at her home and she quickly joined the fray because the Laufs are passionate about saving water. The family has a well-point but use it sparingly, Ms Laufs said.

“People say, eventually it will rain and the aquifer will fill up again. But there is no rain and we can’t make it rain.”

On Facebook she said: “My husband connected a hose pipe to our kids bath (they bath together in very little water), and to our main shower (my hubby and I tried showering together but, with the size of our tummies, we took much longer to get unstuck and stop laughing than it was worth) and all that water runs onto our back lawn now.

“Then last night he connected a thick cooldrink bottle and a long pipe to one of our drainpipes to fill our pool with when it rains.”

When the Bulletin visited the Laufs to see how well the innovations are helping the family to save water, Ms Lauf showed the reporter the municipal accounts for the last few months.

Each month, Ms Lauf’s husband Shaun has added more and more measures to save water and in that time their bill has steadily dropped from a few hundred rand to below R100 last month.

But the Laufs are far from done. Plans are already afoot in the family to save even more water.

“This weekend he will try to figure out how to connect the washing machine pipe out to our side lawn,” she said.

In the longer term, they are also planning on buying a rainwater tank.

“Every little bit helps,” she said. “What’s going to happen when the well runs dry?”

AnotherFacebookcommentor, Sharon Bernhardt, said her grass had never been greener since she started using grey water.

“Drought is drought. Everyone has a responsibility to save water. My garden has never been watered so much as it has since I have started saving all my grey water. My garden thinks it’s Christmas!”

Laura Burford said: “I have also been using grey water and it makes such a difference. Fill a bucket with borehole water and see how little that fills your bath or sink and then realise what your daily consumption actually is? It’s terrifying.”

According to the City, groundwater users are not exempt of water restrictions because the drought affects the aquifer too. Mayco member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, said: “We encourage residents to use groundwater sparingly and not to water in the heat of the day or in windy conditions.

“In addition, no watering or irrigation is allowed within 24 hours of rainfall that provides adequate saturation. Customers making use of boreholes, treated effluent water, spring water or wellpoints are not exempt from this.”