Contrary to popular belief, South Africa is a water-scarce country. That is besides KZN and Mpumalanga. Coastal areas have become more than holiday destinations and have started to feel the pinch of water scarcity. This is because of, amongst other things, population influx, leading to higher demand in the area and Climate Change, which predicts peaks (floods) to be higher and troughs (droughts) to be lower. The effects are compounded by population growth.

What does that mean for us, the citizen of the region? With all the demands on the government and the scarcity of a limited resource like water, we have no option but to find ways and means of becoming partially or entirely self-sufficient. The other option is to be subjected to water outages, water-shedding and severe restrictions.

I realized early in my career, spanning more than 40 years, that this region is particularly suspectable to extremes. If we are not in flood/wet period, we are in a drought/dry period. Normal is abnormal for this region.

Always Be Ready To Harvest

Being a homeowner, I quickly realized I would have to lay out some money to find an alternative water source. But unfortunately, a borehole was beyond my financial reach.

I started with those 200l plastic oil drums before progressing to those practical but unsightly flow bins. Then I had some luck with a friend wanting to experiment with well-points. A well-point is like a borehole but is around 10 m deep and extracts surface water. 

I now had some extra water for my pool. This is an excellent alternative if you live in an area with sandy soil and a high water table. It does not work in rocky areas, unfortunately. It is also great if you have a damp problem on your property. Mine was done for free courtesy of a good friend and yields about 20 l of quality water per minute. 

Always Be Ready To Harvest

Always Be Ready To Harvest


I have and am constantly adding storage tanks to my arsenal.

Costs vary, and I am unsure what they are now, but they are a fraction of the cost of boreholes. However, one still needs a water tank or pool to store the water.

Other methods, such as dew harvesting, also require a storage system.  

What are the alternatives to storage tanks? I have seen some very creative and artistic options. These include covering swimming pools and turning them into underground water tanks. I have even seen storage tanks built out of brick and mortar. However, I think they are more costly than the plastic variety.

Other storage methods include putting used plastic drums under gutters and transferring the water to the bath and any other home container, including the kitchen sink.

Unfortunately, used storage containers such as flow bins and used chemical and plastic oil drums are in high demand, and the costs are at a premium due to our water shortage.

On the plus side, the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of water tanks have not exploited the situation. On the contrary, they have kept prices reasonably low, even offering regular specials.

Besides becoming self-sufficient, every citizen of the region must be on a constant water conservation drive.

We have all been bombarded with water-saving tips which do not need repeating. Unfortunately, however, there are not many tips on water recycling.

I recently visited a supporter of my page (advert on the top of my WG page) who specializes in greywater recycling. I was shown the systems and was amazed to see how one can realize savings of up to 80% on water consumption. These systems vary from simple to complex. So naturally, they are priced accordingly. An excellent alternative for a car wash or laundromat that now has to spend a significant portion of its profits on water.

Remember, at the present consumption rate, our local dams will be empty by July if we do not receive dam-filling rain.

Are you going to wait till then before you start utilizing water better and finding other practical water storage means? 

Garth Sampson – The Weather Guru

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