Monday, June 18
DIY

Feedback: Using grey water in homes a worry

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The whole drought/water shortage (there is a difference) in the Western Cape has been handled poorly.

To clear up what appears to have been some misunderstanding about the use of grey water I received the following letter from Dr Jo Barnes below. While the use of grey water in gardens has been around for years, what we are talking about here are the necessary controls to get it re-used in our homes.
I am seriously worried that, due to the dereliction of duty of several authorities, the situation is now forcing middle-income people who have never had to recycle water before, into doing irresponsible things. 
I am a member of a team from UCT who wrote a background document for the Water Research Commission and the Department of Water and Sanitation to use to draw up meaningful regulations for grey water re-use. We came to a unanimous conclusion that household-based re-use is risky, thanks to health and legal implications, and impossible to regulate. The outlook for grey water re-use in large office blocks etc is much more promising and should be safer. This document has been submitted and should appear soon. I will let you know when it does.
The City of Cape Town is coming down hard on water users under their control – the ratepayers – but any other parties are escaping. 
The single biggest water “waster” is the city itself. The inhabitants of informal settlements are actually very water wise, as they have to fetch water from distant taps. The vast bulk of the water used there is lost through poorly maintained taps, toilets, leaking pipes, etc – ie lost via the city’s own systems. 
The city owns all the infrastructure in the settlements and loses about 13% (they say 8%) though leaks and burst pipes in the overall metro. That makes the city the biggest “water waster” of all. I have never seen any municipality I have worked with issue themselves a fine.
It is irresponsible to encourage people to re-use grey water and not issue firm guidelines on what is safe and what should be avoided. This whole drought/water shortage (there is a difference) has been handled poorly.


If you have a question for Don, please send it to don@macalister.co.za or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB: facebook.com/thehandymac 

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