Wednesday, October 17
DIY

Keep sharing water ideas

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Please keep using this forum to inform and educate other readers

I am sure, like me, wherever you go the subject of water or the lack thereof keeps coming up. 

As much as I would like to write about other things, I believe this column must be used as a forum for the sharing of ideas and the exchange of knowledge. 

Much of the technical information sent to me in this field is above my knowledge level, but I will keep running it to give you all a chance to try the ideas, or simply be better informed. 

I am happy to act as a postbox and to forward contact details of those submitting the information. I am sure that, at this time of crisis, nobody minds trying to help others by sharing their ideas. 

When Mrs Mac returns I shall enlist her help in making my FaceBook page more user-friendly for spreading this information. Last week I reported on Dave who lives in Constantia, and who says he has successfully softened his borehole water for use in his home. 

He says he is now completely off government water. He had also installed an altered nozzle on his main basin tap and is saving 98% of the water he uses. What an interesting visit I had to Dave. 

Because of the nature of his business at home he was receiving horrendous water bills, but a bigger problem was his desire to save potable water and rely on his borehole. 

Not all of us have boreholes and some who do are not producing water that is drinkable. Look for the homes that still have lush gardens, but walls with yellow or brown stains. 

One of the original names for Cape Town was Hui Gaeb, a Khoisan phrase meaning “where clouds gather”, implying it was a place with an abundance of rainfall. For decades we have had a lot of clear water in the aquifers under our Peninsula and surrounds, and if we are going to start using it we need to protect it. 

We need to plan carefully to ensure these valuable reserves are not poisoned or polluted by rubbish, dog poo or whatever is left on the ground to eventually be carried down to the aquifers by rain water. 

Dave showed me what he has done to ensure his borehole water will not damage the copper piping in his residence and the hot water cylinders, showers, washing machine and so on. He has had his water tested and will drink it, but intends putting an ultra-violet light in the supply line to ensure bacterial bugs are knocked out. If you’re thinking of going the borehole route, here’s a brief synopsis of Dave’s method. Have a sample of the water analysed by a professional laboratory. 

The analysis will include minerals, metals, pH and microbials (E-coli and so on). Get a qualified person to read the water quality and prescribe treatment needed. The quality can range from water good enough to drink to water high in iron and bacteria. Almost all underground water has become acidic after contact with Mother Earth. This registers in the pH reading being in the region of 5 to 5.5. 

This must be stabilised before putting it through copper pipes. Newlands spring water has a pH of 5 – perfect for brewing beer and human consumption, but copper pipes and geysers require a pH closer to 7.2. Limestone pebbles and bicarbonate of soda are both suitable for raising pH. This might be a bit technical, but is do-able for most DIY homeowners. 

Follow the prescription from the original water analysis if there is microbial activity, presence of sediment that might get into geyser filters, iron presence and so on. Consider having a single drinking water source in the home filtered by carbon or similar. It might seem unnecessary to filter water to drinking level for general washing throughout the home so just do one tap. 

Dave’s last piece of advice was to present me with an altered nozzle. It is a device that fits on to the end of your tap and restricts water flow by as much as 98%. Mine is still the box, but I plan to fit it later today. I was impressed with the ones Dave fitted – perfect to restrict water flow when we tend to forget to switch off quickly, like cleaning our teeth or rinsing a cup. 

The ramifications of the water crisis are astonishing. I believe physiotherapists are receiving increased business out of the water shortage, thanks to floods of clients with sore shoulders after carrying buckets from the shower to the garden or loo.

Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, 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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