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Did you know that South Africans use 61% more water than the world average? Find out more about the importance of water, and how you can help save it.

Water is life - don't waste it!
Water is life - don't waste it! (Photo: Government Communications)

The City of Joburg treats the month of March - which includes National Water Week and World Water Day on 22 March - as Water Month, to stress the importance of conserving one of the City's most precious resources.

Here's why water matters, facts on water scarcity in South Africa, and what each of us can do to help save it.

The importance of water

  • Water provides the earth with the capacity of supporting life.
  • All plants and animals rely on water to survive.
  • Water is also essential for the healthy growth of farm crops and farm stock and is used in the manufacture of many products.
  • Water is important to the mechanics of the human body.

Tips on how to save water

  • Water your garden with a watering can rather than a hosepipe. A hosepipe uses 1 000 litres of water an hour.
  • Mulching your plants (with bark chippings, heavy compost or straw) and watering in the early morning and late afternoon will reduce evaporation and also save water.
  • Install a water drum to your drainpipe and use the water collected to water your plants, clean your car and wash your windows.

How plants and trees benefit from water

  • If there is not enough water for a plant, the nutrients it needs cannot travel through the plant.
  • A plant cannot grow if it doesn’t have healthy roots, so the proper balance of water is key when growing plants.
  • A typical tree breathes out 250 to 400 or more tons of water per day through the amazingly large surface area of its leaves (an acre of forest can contain well over 1 000 acres of leaf surface area.
  • Plants utilize most of the water absorbed from the soil for transpiration (95%), but a small portion of the water absorbed is used during photosynthesis for producing the carbohydrates necessary for plant growth (5%).

Facts on water scarcity in South Africa

  • South Africa is a water scarce country and is the 30th driest country in the world with an average rainfall of about 40% less than the annual world average rainfall.
  • Shortage of water leads to poor sanitation and affects human health.
  • South Africa is facing water shortages after the worst drought since 1992, cutting dam levels by 12 percent from a year earlier as most of the country enters its four-month dry season.
  • South Africa has an average annual rainfall of less than 500 mm, while that of the world is about 850 mm. Despite all this, between 37% and 42% of potable water is unaccounted for.
  • The International average water usage per day is 170 litres, while South Africans use 61.8% more water than the world average.