Yesterday, we had the first shock of the year: Cape Town confronts the looming ‘Day Zero’ water crisis!
What is day zero? The day (April 22, 2018) the major city of South Africa will run out of potable water. Now, as a precautionary measure, only 87 litres of water per person is permitted, and the water is supplied with the guards watching all the citizens strictly.
The importance of potable water needs no description. Water is life. This city, once upon a time was known as “camissa” that is the “place of sweet water”. It was getting plenty of rainfall, thrice in a year and all water was retained in dams. Capetown is basically a catchment area surrounded by table mountains and south Atlantic ocean. The city was a destination for the rich for its beauty and abundance. Now it is gripped by three-year-long drought and the water level of the dams are now just thirty percent of total capacity.
A tremendous rise in population and the climate change is held responsible for Day Zero. The raised population spent water above the limit and the climate change. We will have to wait and watch the end result, how the city copes up the first ever crisis of its kind. It is not the Capetown alone but slowly most of the major cities are going to face this crisis for water.
As we are now well aware of the environment, pollution, how to protect the planet and many are working on this line, I feel it is also high time we focus on water conservation too. In every country, there is a rise in population and the growing population are spending the nature’s bountiful sources without a hitch. Only a few people throughout the world is thinking and working to save the natural resources. The Capetown crisis today bring me and my students together on a discussion of recycling the grey water. One of my students wants to do a project to help poor people save water and as they are poor, they will suffer the most if water crisis hits our part of the world. Otherwise too, I live in a drought-prone area where every summer people go through tremendous water crisis.
Greywater can be defined as any domestic wastewater produced, excluding sewage. The main difference between greywater and sewage (or blackwater) is the organic loading. Sewage has a much larger organic loading compared to greywater. Some people also categorise kitchen wastewater as blackwater because it has quite a high organic loading relative to other sources of wastewater such as bath water.
How much water we use to clean our house, vehicles, clothes, in bathing? If we can have a system where we are able to collect the water from bathrooms, washing machines, water purifiers where the water does not contain any organic material (faeces, food particles, oils and grease). This water can be treated or simply filtered by passing it through a bed of sand and gravels, then through a fine mesh before discharging it to the backyard garden or any other tank. From that tank the recycled water can be used for washing vehicles, cleaning homes, irrigating plants etc. In this way, our basic need for water for cleanliness and tree plantation can be solved. If the water is further treated to remove microorganisms then it can also be used for another round of bathing. One more thing which can be done by his recycled water is to use it for sanitation, to keep toilets and bathrooms clean.
We must start the work now to save and recycle water. The young generation must be taught in this direction so that they can come up with new ideas. If new buildings are constructed, then the recycling of water can be preplanned and included in building design. The old building also can implement the idea where minimum plumbing work is needed o do so.
The segregation of grey and black water at the source require proper building design. The method is very much required in hostels, big apartments, public places where the consumption of water is huge. The segregation will reduce a load of sewage water too. LET US THINK ABOUT OUR FUTURE. We don’t want to see the days with zero water and people fighting over water! A simple measure adapted today can save us in future.