Water Wise Watch: November 2019

This month at Water Wise

We are well into summer and the temperatures are soaring, with little rain in sight at the moment. With a rise in temperature and low levels of rainfall, it is expected that the demand on our water supply is going to increase. This is a great time to focus on being Water Wise!

In other water news, Gauteng is going through a two-month period of reduced water supply because of the shut-down of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). The LHWP was initiated in the 1950s as an economical way to supplement South Africa's water supply. The first phase of the project was completed in 2004 and Phase 2 is currently underway, with 16.7% of the project complete as of October 2019. Once the project is completed, the system is expected to transfer around 2 000 million cubic metres of water from Lesotho to South Africa every year.

The project is currently undergoing maintenance and inspection to ensure that the system is operating optimally. This means that for the months of October and November 2019 there will be no transfer of water from Lesotho into the Integrated Vaal River System in South Africa. The LHWP supplements approximately 27% of the IVRS supply. The closure of the LHWP is not expected to affect water supply to Gauteng, as the Vaal Dam receives water from numerous other sources and transfer schemes.

Nonetheless, it is important that the public do their best to use water sparingly. As temperatures rise and weather forecasts suggest that we can expect lower than normal rainfall for the first part of summer (October, November, and December), water demand is expected to rise. The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and various municipalities across Gauteng are encouraging residents to adhere to Level 1 water restrictions to prevent the over-demand of water. Level 1 water restrictions are as follows:

  • Watering of gardens is not allowed between 6 am and 6 pm in summer months (1 Sept to 31 March);
  • Residents are not allowed to wash paved areas and driveways using hose pipes; and
  • Residents are urged to report any water leaks they come across.

Follow these tips to reduce your water consumption:

  • Do not leave taps dripping;
  • Wash your car on the grass, this will water your lawn at the same time;
  • Shorten your showering time;
  • Use a glass of water to rinse when brushing your teeth;
  • Take shallow baths and avoid filling your bath to a depth greater than 100 mm; and,
  • Re-use grey water to water your garden or pot plants

Visit the Water Wise website for more tips on saving water in your home and garden. Always be Water Wise!

For more on the LHWP visit:


Water Wise Events

The Clearwater Mall 

Clearwater Mall, in conjunction with Garden World, showcased various landscaped gardens from 15 - 30 October, as an extension of the Garden World Spring Festival, which ran from 26 July to 1 September. Water Wise was also there, with an informative and colourful display showcasing Water Wise practices such as vertical gardens or green walls, and how recycled and recyclable materials can be used to brighten up a space. The display drew a lot of attention, especially the vertical garden. A vertical garden or green wall consists of a wall that is partially or completely covered with growth media such as plants, soil, and water. Green walls provide insulation for buildings, keeping temperatures constant. They also clean the air from pollutants, act as a sound proofing barrier, and provide a habitat for wildlife. Have a look at the beautiful Water Wise garden below.

For more on green walls and vertical gardens, click here.

The Johannesburg International Flower Show

The Johannesburg International Flower Show was held from 30 October to 3 November 2019. The event was hosted in Midrand at Waterfall City and was held to celebrate design and innovation within South Africa's green industry, specifically leading landscapers, designers, and gardeners. Notable attractions at the event included show gardens, the Netflorist Grand Pavillion of Flowers, and Water Wise and sustainable practices throughout. All exhibitors were encouraged to use Water Wise plants in their landscapes, to prevent the use of invasive alien plants in their arrangements, and to use solar power and recycled infrastructure where possible.

Water Wise events in November

World Toilet Day is an international event that was established by the World Trade Organisation and made an official United Nations celebration day in 2013. It is celebrated on 19 November 2019 with an aim to highlight water and sanitation issues experienced globally. It also focuses on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6, which is to implement sanitation for all by 2030.

This year's theme is 'Leaving no one behind'. It is a human right to have access to sanitation; however, more than 4 billion people across the planet do not have access to safe, clean sanitation solutions. In South Africa alone, more than 2 in 10 households do not have access to improved sanitation. In 2015, only 66% of the country had access to safe, reliable sanitation. Here are some other facts about the state of sanitation world-wide:

  • Open defecation is still practiced by more than 670 million people.
  • Almost 2 billion people utilise drinking water from sources containing human faeces.
  • Deaths attributed to inadequate sanitation amount to approximately 430 000 a year.
  • Issues with sanitation cause serious health problems such as intestinal worms, and other water-borne disease and viruses.

Those of us privileged enough to have safe, accessible, and clean sanitation need to ensure that we use these facilities responsibly. Be Water Wise by implementing some of the following practices in your home, office, or school:

  • Re-use greywater to flush your toilets.
  • Install a dual-flush system in your toilet cistern to prevent wasteful use of water.
  • Make sure you have a cistern that uses between 9 and 12 litres of water per flush only. Older types of cisterns can use up to 15 litres of water per flush!
  • Only flush the toilet when necessary: 'if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down.' Do not use the toilet to dispose of tissues and other non-flushable items; rather use a dustbin.
  • Make sure your toilet does not leak. Place a few drops of dye into the cistern. If the dye seeps into the toilet bowl, it is possible you have a leak.

This month, Water Wise is celebrating World Toilet Day by holding a number of internal events to educate and create awareness around the importance and right to clean, safe, and accessible sanitation and hygiene. Find out more about how inadequate sanitation and hygiene can affect people by clicking here.

For more information on World Toilet Day, visit the website here.

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Environmental Days and Public Holidays 

World Fisheries Day 2019

World Fisheries Day is an international event that is celebrated on 21 November every year. This event is a chance to focus on the importance of conserving our world fish supplies, for the benefit of both humans and the environment. Reports from the United Nations show that more than 60% of the world's fisheries have been over-fished and almost 30% are in a state of decline, mainly as a result of water pollution, climate change, and the loss of fish habitats.

Many people across the world rely on fish to supplement their diets, especially those that live adjacent to rivers, oceans, and lakes. Fishing is also an important tradition among these communities. However, with large populations situated close to water bodies, the effects of human settlements is obvious: water pollution from domestic and industrial run-off and over-fishing. Other human effects on fish populations include the use of trawlers and other unsustainable means of fishing. Trawlers are commercial fishing vessels that drag or pull large fishing nets through the water behind the vessel. Unfortunately, trawlers do not discriminate between different sea life, so the result is the capture and harm of turtles, seabirds, mammals, sharks, and other animals, which are often discarded as a by-product and do not survive the process.

The impact of over-fishing can unbalance entire ecosystems, as more often than not, fish species are removed from the ocean at a rate that does not allow replenishment of the population. This can result in depletion of fish populations, and the knock-on effects on other sea life that relies on these fish for food. It also affects the millions of people world-wide that rely on fish as their main source of protein.

How can you help?

  • Only eat and buy sustainably harvested fish.
  • Eat less of the fish that are under threat.
  • Always adhere to fishing restrictions and permits if you are a fisherman.
  • Use the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) to guide you on the fish you can and cannot eat.
  • Encourage your government and officials to implement regulations that prevent over-fishing.

For more on World Fisheries Day, click here.



Water and environmental news
(Click on the bold heading below to read the article)

Vaal Dam records weekly declines – department says it’s not critical yet
"The Vaal Dam declined to 58% during the month of September, a huge difference compared with 81.4% from the previous year around the same period."
Govt report paints a bleak picture of South Africa's rivers
"A new government report has painted a bleak picture of the ecological health of South Africa’s rivers, finding only 15% in a good condition."

South Africa designates three new Ramsar Sites
"South Africa has named three new Wetlands of International Importance. It now has 26 Ramsar Sites. Dassen Island Nature Reserve and Dyer Island Provincial Nature Reserve and..."

Lesotho Highlands Water Project shut down for inspection and maintenance well underway
"The Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) in conjunction with the TransCaledon Tunnel Authority have successfully shutdown the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP)."


Zwartkopjies weather

Our weather station is currently under maintenance and weather data is unavailable. We apologise for the inconvenience. In the interim, have a look at the weather forecast for South Africa, courtesy of the South African Weather Service, by clicking on the image below.  

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