"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Emergency action

This is probably a boring subject to most of you, but the reality is that the drought in the Western Cape, and specifically Cape Town, may cause Cape Town to be the first ever metropolitan to run out of water.  Ever.


There are 5 dams which feed Cape Town:

  • Theewaterskloof Dam.
  • Wemmershoek Dam.
  • Steenbras Dams (Upper and lower)
  • VoĆ«lvlei Dam.
  • Berg River Dam

The Theewaterskloof Dam is the largest, and it is currently sitting at 16.05% - 10% of which is unusable, so basically that dam has 6.05% water left to give Cape Town.  The combined total of all five dams is 29.1%  When that total hits 13.7% Day Zero has arrived and the only water supplied to the entire city will be by water tanker.  This is predicted to happen on 22 April 2018.  If we have any heatwaves before then, then obviously that date will be brought forward.

So, I have been researching how to "create" water, and this site gave me a few idea's: http://all-about-water-filters.com/awesome-diy-emergency-ways-to-filter-water-in-the-wild/

I tried out # 5, and this was the result.
Empty jar inside muddy water filled glass salad bowl
I took a clear glass salad bowl and added some muddy water to it.  
View from the side
An empty jam jar was placed inside the salad bowl.  
Rock / weight placed in the centre of the plastic wrap
The salad bowl was then covered in cling wrap, with a stone in the centre. This is so that any condensation which gathers on the cling wrap will fall into the empty jam jar and not back into the muddy water.
A drop of water in the making
Placing the salad bowl in the sun I left it for the day.
Small rock / weight placed in the centre of the plastic wrap
Condensation is clearly visible on the inside of the plastic wrap.
Water collected in the jam jar via condensation
At the end of the day, this is how much water was collected.
Roughly 25mls of water
Placing it in a measuring jug, roughly 25mm was collected.

Considering I used a clear glass salad bowl (in order to demonstrate the principle / take photo's), that's not bad.  Had I used a black container instead of the glass, I'm sure that more condensation would've taken place and the yield would've been greater.  To produce enough water to drink / stay hydrated would probably require a number of containers, but I am chuffed at the success of the experiment.

A word of caution though.  This does not produce "clean" water.  It produces clear water, which will still contain germs / bacteria.  Therefore, I would recommend that anyone who tries this method, boils the clear water prior to drinking.


  1. Very ingenious. Here in Britain we are used to just turning on the tap for water. We don't know how lucky we are.

  2. Mum - Water is something humans take for granted. Water in Africa is a different thing altogether. I know, from the Faebook group I belong to, that people in the Western Cape have had a complete shift in approach and lifestyle - and, judging from their comments on posts in that group, that shift will positively affect their lives and their attitude to water going forward. There is a saying "You never know the true value of water until you have to collect, and carry, every drop you use".

  3. Better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness, as the saying goes. If a city runs out of water, I doubt there's a cure, though. American cities like L.A. and Las Vegas are already looking at a similar situation in the not so distant future.

  4. Harry - It is very worrying. And, they reckon that 4 - 5 seriously heavy downpours in the catchment areas are required to allieviate the problem. The chance of those downpours happening is...?

  5. I hope you are keeping an eye on what your new leader is proposing.

  6. I am praying that you get the desperately needed rain to fill your dams soon. Its a wonder the Govt hasnt thought about developing a desalination plant given Capetown is right on the coast. I read your post where you mentioned the numbers of how much water was going to be allowed per person if it has to be trucked in. The numbers are scary. When I was in Capetown 4 years ago the B&B we stayed in only had a bath. It was also a very big and very deep bath. To get enough water to wash took an enormous amount of water. I guess it would now be a bucket. Here's to rain, lots of it with no flooding.

  7. Wow, so scary. I wish there was something we could do to help. Will send positive energy your direction and hope that things work out. That's a great idea with the condensation. Fascinating and my mind is wandering to how that could be scaled up.

  8. Tewshooz - Cyril Raamaphosa is the newly elected president of the ANC party. He has not yet been elected president of the country - yet. Nor has the incumbent stepped down / been recalled.

    That said, he is a savvy businessman - compared to the existing president - and he has also stressed that if, and when he is elected, he will not harm the economy with irresponsible actions.

    The future will be interesting - for many reasons...

  9. Jane Allan - Welcome and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

    Regretfully, it will take many, many storms to replenish the dams :( The current situation is not going to be a quickly fixed.

    Compounding the issue - there was an investigative report on the dire situation on TV last night - and it would seem that politics could be compounding the issue. The Western Cape is the only province held, and, in the main, run, but the opposition party. The pertinent minister, and the national Department of Water & Sanitation is reacting extremely tardily - if at all - and this is surmised to be so that the opposition can "fail", and the majority ruling party can thereby regain control of the province, and the entire country, come the next general election in 2019.

    Playing with lives...:(

  10. 1st Man - Thank you my friend. Positive energy, prayers and rain dances all help... :D

  11. Dani. Very serious situation. We are hearing about it hear as well. Also, where I live, the weather people just told us that we have broke a record for the number of days without any precipitation ever recorded, with nothing forcast in the future until May.

  12. Marlin - yes, it is dire :(

    We haven;t ehard anythhing abot your weather in recent times - guess we're all too involved with our own disaster. The world's weather is certainly taking a turn for the worst (major snow and flooding in Europe, the excessive snow to the north west of the USA, record breaking droughts occuring, and there will still be those who insist that climate change isn't a reality...:(

    1. I'll continue to read your new blog. Good luck. I know you can be of help to your country.

  13. Thanks Marlin. Can you please tell me - are you able to comment on my last post or the new blog?

    1. I just commented on you last entery on this blog without any problems. I opened the link to the Facebook page and it worked fine. As you know it is a page with members who join. If accepted if I join I would think posting to it would be no problem. I just don't know if I should ask to join being in the U.S. and not there.

  14. Marlin - I recently found this comment in my spam folder...?

    Nah, if you want to join thWater Sedding Western Cape FB group, they'd welcome you with open arms. Spreading the word on how to reduce water use, especially in times of drought, is not limited to Capetonians only ;)


Thank you for taking the time to comment - it makes my day and removes the "loneliness' of sitting at my screen blogging supposedly to myself ;) I try and reply as quickly as possible so please forgive me if sometimes my response is delayed.