Water is a safe, wholesome commodity available in your home 24 hours per day. But water does not arrive by magic – it starts as runoff into streams and rivers. Then it has to be caught in dams, purified, pumped, stored and finally piped to your house. The cost of operating the water supply system is recovered through the sale of water.

South Africa is a water scarce country. We only get half of the world’s average annual rainfall, and only 9% of that rainfall lands up in our rivers (the rest is lost to evaporation, to plants and to infiltration into the soil). We have less than 1 000 cubic metres of water available per person a year, and we have to use that water wisely.

If we use more than we should, the storage, supply and wastewater treatment facilities will have to be enlarged sooner than planned for – increasing the cost of water. Furthermore, during droughts, we could find ourselves with little water for longer periods.

Think about water. It is precious. By conserving it you could save yourself a lot of money, and also contribute to our national survival. Without water we are doomed.

There are various ways in which you can conserve water. First, find and repair any leaks in your own water system. Second, use the available water more efficiently. Finally, if you are in the process of building or renovating, plan for an efficient water-supply system.