Cape Town and surrounds have been experiencing the worst drought in about 100 years. Despite the winter rainfall this year exceeding that of 2016/17 residents of the Western Cape continue to face tough water restrictions that allow each person the use of 50 litres of water per day. But are these conditions here to stay and how will they affect properties in the Western Cape and in Cape Town in particular?
Theewaterskloof Dam – Photo by Brendan Collocott
According to an article written by Dr Wolski, a researcher with UCT’s Climate System Analysis Group, although this drought is rare and severe the overall trend in the Cape Town area is towards lower rainfall. What that essentially means is that yes the drought will end but the amount of water that our catchment dams are getting is slowly decreasing year on year. Add to that the increase in the number of people living in Cape Town and water will remain a precious resource that will have to be used with care.
Effects of the drought crisis on properties in Cape Town
Industry players have indicated that property sales have slowed, particularly in the upper-end suburbs of Cape Town. The drought, however, is not the sole cause of this drop in sales. Investor confidence, the image of DA-run local and provincial government being blemished in recent months as well as affordability issues with the price of houses in Cape Town rocketing in recent years, have all had a negative impact on the property market.
Despite the drought not being entirely to blame for the drop in property sales, estate agents have noted an upward trend in house buyers who are looking for “water wise homes”. Such homes would include water saving devices like grey-water systems, storage tanks and installed water-saving devices.
How your designer can increase the value of your property
Whether you are building a new home or renovating a well-loved home there are small changes/additions that your designer can make that will make your property water-wise. A water-wise home lowers your carbon footprint, saves you money on your water bill and increases the value of your property.
Your designer can save you money by installing taps with aerated outlets. What this means is that air is mixed in with the water thus reducing the flow of water but not the pressure. For example, a bathroom hand basin tap fitted with an aerated outlet allows a maximum flow rate of 12 litres per minute versus the 25 litres a minute of a tap with a plain outlet.
There are many options out there. We like the Cobra Water Saving Collection. A wide variety of multifaceted showerheads, toilet flush mechanisms, mixers and taps are available in this range. The range includes electronic taps and mixers that deliver water only when hands are placed in front of the sensor.
The site (listed in the references) is easy to navigate and provides important information such as the maximum flow rate per minute of the taps and shower heads. Their energy saving shower heads deliver an astounding maximum flow of 9L per minute versus the 30L per minute of a standard shower head.
Another favourite of ours is the Hansgrohe EcoSmart Range. Their Crometta 85 Green overhead and hand showers use a staggering 6L of water per minute. The ecosmart technology reduces water consumption in all Hansgrohe basin mixers by up to 60%, reducing water flow to around 5L per minute. Like Cobra they also offer non-contact mixers with infrared-sensing electronics.
Obviously an easy way to be water smart is by harvesting rainwater and recycling grey water. South Africans are resilient people and as the drought has persisted and became more serious new companies have popped up and old companies made relevant changes offering to sell water tanks, install grey water systems etc. Consequently there are lots of options just a google away.
The most innovative idea that I have seen was in my hood. An overseas buyer, renovating his house decided that instead of filling his pool (he does not want a swimming pool) he would build a concrete deck over it. He now uses the empty pool to store water directly from his roof, and all hard terraces. The water is pumped from the pool to storage tanks which are then filtered, treated and exposed to strong UV light – after which the water is pumped into his house.
If you are renovating or building your house from scratch, underground water storage tanks make a lot of sense. They are able to store a lot more water without taking up ridiculous amounts of space as well as maintaining the aesthetics of your home.
Water Worries Won’t Abate
Water is not a limitless resource. In South Africa we stand an even greater chance of water shortages due to mismanagement and corruption. The question: “Is Water the new Eskom?” has already been asked.
It is therefore not only in the best interest of the environment that we save water but also in our own best interest. Saving water does not have to be a burden of water buckets in the shower, unsightly water storage tanks, etc.
True water saving strategies that will save you hassle and money are simply put: All in the design.
Article written by Claudine Collocott
Claudine Collocott is responsible for marketing at Salient Design.
She is passionate about writing, research and design.