Water ...

Here we discuss various alternative energy solutions. From converting your car to electricity to converting your home to be off the grid.
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ChrisF
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Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:13 pm

So on Tuesday 1 November 2016 the Western Cape is moving into the next era of water restrictions. The powers that be indicating that we have a "drought" ... some would say we had less rain, but the real problem is the drastic and constant increase in water use outstripping the catchment capabilities in the Western Cape.

While this is a new era for the Western Cape, our friends upcountry had a water-shedding today. According to the news water supply was cut to certain areas, as people were not heading the calls to reduce water consumption ....

so politics, planning, excessive use, etc etc are all topics to be discussed at great length ....


But closer to home : What are YOU doing to reduce your water foot print ?



My neighbour has a three fold plan :
1) small roof and bath water going to a tank. This grey water mix will be used to wash the cars, and to water two small flower beds in the front.

2) garage roof goes into a very small tank. This will be used as available to water some plants.

3) massive tank with 80% of the roof area being piped to deliver any rain water into this tank. From this he hopes to keep his garden going ..... right or wrong, I do admire his effort !


He has inspired me to get a 2 000 liter tank. The primary purpose is to catch the water when I back wash the pool filter. Leave it to settle, the put the clean top layer back into the pool. I will also catch rain water from a 64m2 roof into this tank - I will then have this water tested to confirm if I can use this water for the pool. (a 2 000 liter tank cost double what a 500 liter tank costs..)

For washing the car I can then use water from this tank, and a pressure washer ....

The plumbing of my house makes it near impossible to harvest water from the shower or bath ...

In the Western Cape "Nel tanks" are much cheaper than Jo-Jo.

My next option will take some more planning (and saving) ... my front lawn has never worked, not even expensive roll on lawn took properly. We believe it might have a lot of building rubble below the surface ... either way the lawn just does not "take". Seriously considering ripping it up and paving the front. Any recommendations on paving contractors ?



Please share your ideas and concepts for saving water ...

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Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:25 am

I think we all know most of the things we should be doing, but do we do them?

Municipal water is not expensive (yet) so for most it's not justifiable to put in catchment tanks - and it certainly is not if one looks at it from a purely financial viewpoint. If on the other hand one is concious about one's water "foot-print", not everyone has the financial resources to spare.

The starting point in any event would be look at unnecessary consumption before going the catchment route. The things that we all know about - fix any leaks / dripping taps, shower instead of bathing and turn it off while lathering up and then on again to rinse off, fit two stage toilet cisterns or remove the 'brake' from the older 'beta' valve type which allows you to control the amount of flush water used, plan your laundry activities so that you don't have a full cycle for a ¼ load (some washing machine models have water saving cycles or ½ load cycles), look at how you wash your dishes and do other household chores that require water usage and so on. When it comes to the garden one can use hardier lawn grasses that don't require as much water and the same goes for the type of plants / trees that you have in the garden.

A pool cover (I know it's a schlep to take it off and put it back) can also save a significant amount. Firstly there is a lot less evaporation (especially if you are in a windy area) and then there is also a lot less debris that finds it's way into the pool that results in less backwashes being necessary (it will also save on pool maintenance costs for the same reasons).

So a lot can be done before incurring the expense of catchment tanks - one can even 're-use' the grey waste water without catchment by just leading it out onto the lawns or trees wherever possible (depending on gradients and waste plumbing).

We are only two persons in the household (our daughter and son-in-law sometimes sleep over on a weekend) and our consumption varies between 6 and 8 Kl per month. I'm happy with that, so have no plans at this stage to install tanks.

I agree that one of the major factors is demand outstripping supply, more so than there being a shortage of catchment dam volumes, but here I have to say that I believe the main culprits are the townships where usage is not controlled nor paid for. Taps run unnecessarily as do faulty cisterns and the general wastage is enormous.
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Tue Nov 01, 2016 6:57 am

I have been using borehole water for well over a year now, with just one bathroom & the laundry still operating on Municipal water. A couple of months ago someone made a huge mistake on my water reading and I got billed for R4500 water usage, because some incompetent either did not read my meter correctly or they spun a wheel and took a guess at the reading. I gave up phoning to talk to somebody with a brain about this but for the next month I was in full credit iro my total Municipal account, including rates, water, electricity, sewerage and refuse removal, and still had R1500 credit for last month.

Last year I was treated to three months with full credit for everything as a result of a mistake with my electrical consumption reading.

I use Solar heating for the Main geyser as well, that resulted in an immediate drop of electrical costs of close to R1k per month. The laundry however is still on electricity but it is only a small geyser of 100 litre capacity.

The borehole is relatively deep at 102m but it has never faltered and serves the pool and rest of the house. It also tastes much better than the chlorinated municipal water.


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Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:24 am

We try to use each other's bath water as much as possible.
Limit toilet flushes as far as hygienically possible (and don't flush waste that can go into the dustbin)
Sprinkler system program changed to literally just keep the lawn from dying off
Leaves from trees left in flower beds to retain moisture.
Down pipes from garage and patio roofs diverted into pool.
Backwash pool onto lawn & flower beds (would love a tank for that)

Agree with Andy, I just looked at my landscaping tech Saturday....opens the tap and just leaves it running whilst drying his hands....clearly it is free where he lives. I walked up and closed it. I definitely believe water should be throttled to areas where it is not metered/controlled

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Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:29 am

Saw a nice tip in the local paper....take a 2L cool drink bottle and fill it with sand, put the cap back on and drop in the cistern of the loo, thus a 2L saving on each flush.

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Tue Nov 01, 2016 8:36 am

Just a question on catching water from the roof / bath / pool...

As part of the my pipedream to throw down the old house and rebuild, i wanted put storage tanks in basement to catch water from the roof.. but since water restrictions only really come into affect in summer, when there is no real rain , will that not be pointless?

also for the grey water from the shower / bath. In essence that water container soap, dirt, bacteria etc. so standing in a storage tank waiting for a car wash , is it not going to go foul ??

also, backwash from pool, will the chlorinated water not kill the grass??
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Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:06 am

Shaun Pollock does it.... :mrgreen:

Seriously though, don't have any issues with back washing on the lawn; the algae seems to do wonders for the LM grass when the pool is green.

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ChrisF
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Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:19 am

Andy thanks for the feedback. Clearly you have given this some thought.

Eric unfortunately our ground water has a very high metal content and is hardly suitable for the garden, certainly for nothing else. Pity as our water table is very high - hit it when we dug the pool.


I must admit that we have been using water sparingly, and that was it. Never bothered to think deeper about this, afterall I was not wasting water ....


But being told I can no longer wash my car (which I dont do often enough in any event ..) got me thinking about this topic.


We do use a pool cover. I CAN confirm that it saves a LOT of water !!!!

The backwashing thing got me to invest in a tank ... certainly not for financial saving. But I will rather spend some money on a tank to reduce losses due to back washing (catching some rain water for the pool would be a nice bonus), than to tell the 5 year old to stop enjoying the pool. He is NOT "bombing" and wasting water, but still some water do get used when a kid plays.

And with a bit of luck I might get some water from this tank to wash the car ...

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Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:26 am

We have water restriction in Windhoek for a while now. We have to save 40% per household and industry.

No more watering of gardens, no grass, only every 2nd week you can water trees.
No more washing cars at home.

I use a bucket in the shower to catch water for the garden and toilet.

A friend uses a small sludge pump in his drain for his shower, he pumps this water to an unused geyser, but circulates this water through a sand filter, otherwise the water starts to stink a lot. Uses this water for his tolets.

Grey water that can be used is shower/bath and washing machine, but you have to circulate and filter the water, espesially if you are going to store it, otherwise it will go foul very quickly.

A natural bacterial sand filter works very good.

All I can say is saving water is hard work

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Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:56 am

Would a pool filter work for this? Can't see why not...

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Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:17 am

In the area I stay we cannot do wellpoints and only borehole; borehole will cost north of R100 000 so not even an option. I have gone the route of rain harvesting and 2 x 5000L tanks. You would be surprised how quickly they fill when it rains. Next plan is to get 2 more 5000L tanks.

I did try grey water traps but the submersible pump just does not last because of the dirty water. I ended up replacing the pump every 12 to 18 months. Submersible pump for rain water capyure has been running without issue for a few years now. Best way to use grey water is pipe it straight from outlet into the garden.

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Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:58 pm

I made a small water catchment tank 2 weekends ago to catch the water from the washing machine.I connect a hose and put it in the front of the house where it is lower and water the flower beds and then fill up into a watering can and water the pots pots at the back of the house.worked ok for now would like to install a pump though
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ChrisF
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Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:11 am

Time for some feedback ....

We have all seen the photos in the media of water levels in the dams being "low" .... photos DONT do it justice !!!

Over the last three weekends we have been doing a lot of driving, and past many of our dams. downright scary !!

Here are some pics of farm dams in the Western Cape :
Damme-1 (Large).jpg
Damme-5 (Large).jpg
and where there is a bit of water left there is life -
Damme-2 (Large).jpg


.

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ChrisF
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Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:19 am

October last year my neighbour ordered a couple of rain water tanks ... on the spur of the moment I asked him to include a 1 500 liter tank for me. It was the best value for money option, though the aim was to primary use it for back washing the pool into.


It helps that I have a 64m2 garage roof that now fills this tank.

Since then I have not used any municipal water in my pool, and have done the bulk of my miniature-garden (8 large flower buckets) watering from this tank.

It then struck me that the rain water from the back of the house roof goes straight down the drain .... But here is no place for a large tank .... I ended up with a "wheely bin", 240 liter capacity. The gutter feeds into the small tank. Once 80% full the water overflows into a pipe that feeds into my pool. This pipe has a tap so I can stop this inflow when the pool is full.

At the bottom of this tank I have a take-off point that feeds a 350W pump. This provides ample water to wash my cars with the hose pipe....

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Sat Jun 03, 2017 11:12 pm

Installed 2 x 5000l tanks and a 2500l. With the rain this evening i am looking forward to the investigation tomorrow to see the amount of water accumalated.

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Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:10 am

Just a thought to share that might help someone. Chris mentioned not having space to put a tank to catch the roof water at the back of his house. A subterranean tank can work, but above ground is always first prize if you have the space since the installation is a lot easier and depending on the use of the water, there is not always a need for pumps, their maintenance / replacement over time and of course, the electricity required to run pumps.

Conventional concrete subterranean tanks can be a pain and costly to construct but there is a simpler solution for small installations.

Dig a pit for the tank size and shape so that it's just a little less than a foot deeper than the height of the tank and that there's a gap around the side of the tank that's also about a foot wide. Select the location of this installation taking into account the distance and practicality of both inflow and supply plumbing as well as the positioning of a pressure pump if required to supply the household.

Lay a base of concrete into the bottom of the pit so that the overflow of the tank is just above the ground level. Set the tank in place immediately so that you can make adjustments to position, level, height and rotation. Any "extra" concrete mix can then be filled around the bottom of the tank but be careful that it doesn't start 'floating' - filling some water into the tank as 'ballast' can prevent this. The dry mix allows for

Then make a 1:3 dry mix cement : sand (no stone required) and use this to fill the foot-wide gap around the tank which will create an external cement shell. The way to do this is to lay only about 300mm at a time and then water it (not excessively) - the dry mix will absorb moisture and cure over time without adding water, but you would have to fill the tank to prevent deformity - watering the dry mix as you lay it also compacts it a little. Filling too much at a time can put pressure oh the tank and deform it or even collapse it. So one would wait for each layer to solidify before adding the next - maybe only one or two layers a day.

When the last layer is laid that brings the shell up to surface level, you can start laying a couple of courses of bricks around the tank to protect that small bit that is above ground level, just remember to leave an opening at the overflow that allows you to work on it as required.

Don't bury the tank completely - you will need to have access to the manhole on top to occasionally get in and remove excess sludge from the tank every few years. Also if you make use of a submersible pump, you will need to get to that from time to time as well.

One can make up a cover that sits on top of the surrounding brickwork and it might be a good idea to make it so that it can be locked - one doesn't want accidents when there are adventurous kids about. At the very least, make a bracket or grid so that the manhole cover can be locked.
When your road comes to an end ...... you need a HILUX!.

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Life is like a jar of Jalapeño peppers ... what you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.
Don't take life too seriously ..... no-one gets out alive.
It's not about waiting for storms to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.
And be yourself ..... everyone else is taken!

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ChrisF
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Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:34 am

Had about 20mm of rain last night in Bellville. :thumbup: :yahoo:

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ChrisF
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Sun Jun 04, 2017 12:17 pm

Some feedback -

200 liter system - this WORKS for washing the cars and mountain bikes !!!!!! :yahoo: :celebrate:

A 300 W pump and a multi-function spray head (jet/mist/rain ...) works GOOD to wash the car AND to reduce water usage.

PLEASE NOTE - do post the attached sign !


My neighbours know my system. One even pops over to water down his car, then washes it from a bucket of water.

BUT, washing the car, then going to the shops with a clean car dripping wet is seriously FROWNED upon !!!! :twisted: :blackeye: Got some "dirty" looks for this last week !!!! :siffler:


The 1 500 liter tank is proving to be a BIG saver for my pool !!!!!! I have not used a drop of municipal water for my pool since installing the tank in October. That is a full summer, with a little one swimming OFTEN, and still no municipal water needed.

Granted by February I had to seriously cut back on back-washing .... Had to open the sand-filter box and wash out the sand in April ....

After last nights rain the tank is FULL. I used the opportunity to give the system a good back wash, and filled the pool from the tank. Might repeat this before the expected rains of next week...


Step THREE of our water saving measures - the front yard have always been heavy on water usage ... just one of those where the grass goes brown if it is not watered 4 or 5 times a week .... Removed everything, and paved the front. Practically - MUCH better use of the space !! We live at the back, and use the parking up front. Esthetically .. uhm jaaaa ..... prefered some "green", but not as if we had any "green" left with the water restrictions, rather a dusty patch of brown twigs ....

BEFORE -
IMG_3014 (Small).jpg
IMG_3014 (Small).jpg (29.6 KiB) Viewed 300 times
AFTER -
IMG_0695 (Small).JPG
PS - as the house is "just" lower than the road it turned into an interesting exercise to create a concrete run-off from the weeper holes to a drain point, while ensuring the paving runs AWAY from the house, while still keeping all this detail subtle .....
IMG_0693 (Small).JPG

Step FOUR of our water saving measures - water saving head for the shower. LOTS of negative feedback on these .... so easy to end up with too little water and it not feeling like a proper shower any more ..... I bought a 7,5 l/s unit with adjustable head. As you turn down the volume it sharpens up the "feel" and thin jets hits you harder, providing a nice "feel". It is only when you try to wash off shampoo that that you realise there IS less water. Glad I tried this. It certainly works for us.


We are now down to under 10 000 liters per month, or about 165 liters per day per person.


The only big water user left is the old Whirlpool washing machine ..... :crazy: later ....
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Mud Dog
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Sun Jun 04, 2017 2:54 pm

We currently still use between 6 and 8 kl per month .... still trying to reduce that a little. :winkx:
When your road comes to an end ...... you need a HILUX!.

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Life is like a jar of Jalapeño peppers ... what you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.
Don't take life too seriously ..... no-one gets out alive.
It's not about waiting for storms to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.
And be yourself ..... everyone else is taken!

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Johan Kriel
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Sun Jun 04, 2017 6:56 pm

About 20 years ago Namibia had similar drought. At that stage thee was already back up plans to get water from the rivers in the far north. At that stage a canal/pipelines was in place to get water from Grootfontein area already. Then the following years we had above normal rain for quit a few years. The authorities did not even bother to main the system in place from Grootfontein. Then come the drought last year, it actually came over 4 consecutive years. The dams levels reduced till about 15-20 % then they started to make plans to repair the pipe line from Grootfontein . Not sure if they ever done something. About 50% of the water disappear along the way from Grootfontein to Windhoek. Last year there were lots talks of increase water sources for Windhoek. This year we had good rains so nothing will be done about it. Somewhere along the line the situation will repeat it again.

We had trees of 25 years old in our garden that died. Ok, maybe the wrong type of trees but still. And they were recommended by the chief gardener of City of Windhoek. :frustrated:

My point, yes each one should work sparingly with water but were are in the hands of the most useless Counselors, Politicians and their even more useless Officials. The more we save the less they do. :twisted:
Johan Kriel

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