What are you doing to save water in your SME?

Water-saving techniques can save your bottom line

Day Zero is no longer a threat for Cape Town in 2018, which is good news for one corner of the country. But the water crisis in the Eastern Cape deepens and KZN is continuing with its own water restrictions. In the City of Johannesburg, level one water restrictions are still in place despite water usage increasing at an alarming rate. One thing is certain, South Africa is a water-scarce country and we will never look at water the same way again as it finally dawns on us that water is a finite resource.

It’s not only residential users of water who must focus on water saving, but owners of small businesses too. Small and medium-sized enterprises contribute to more than 65% of South Africa’s employment and 50% of the country’s GDP, and the impact on SMEs could be huge. The water crisis has direct financial costs associated with it. As the price of water rises, your operational costs will increase, which will directly impact on the profitability of your business. By taking early action to implement water-saving techniques, you can prepare your business for long-term growth by investing in water efficiency where it matters most.

Use these basic tips and recommendations on how to restrict water usage in your SME

It’s not only residential users of water who must focus on water saving, but owners of small businesses too.

Do a water audit

Record your meter readings on a daily basis to establish your baseline use of water for flushing toilets, cleaning, filling the urns etc. Then record these readings with days that your business uses more water, for example, when you are hosting more people, as in the case with a tavern over weekends. Once you can establish the normal water usage for your business, you need to obtain copies of your utility bill to determine your average monthly consumptions and compare the difference. Any huge discrepancies can be due to leakage such as dripping taps, toilets and irrigation systems. After your water audit you can identify and implement water efficiency options suitable to your type of business and according to your business needs.


Install faucet aerators on taps which screw onto the part of your tap where the water comes out of. Adding an aerator onto your kitchen and bathroom taps saves water without decreasing the flow. They can be purchased at any local hardware store.

Flush less

Place plastic bottles or one building brick in all toilet cisterns to reduce the amount of water used while flushing.

Reuse grey water

All wastewater generated in households or businesses which comes from the bath, shower, basins, laundry and kitchen sink is grey water. This grey water can be diverted directly from the outlet pipe or using a grey water system (which collects it in a tank and pumps it out) and used for watering plants, cleaning and toilet systems.

All fridges and freezers have condensers and evaporator trays, a lot of water goes into the evaporator trays, which if pumped out, can gather a lot of grey water.

Do less laundry

Ditch the cloth tablecloths and replace them with plastic versions that can easily be wiped down.

Buckets catch the spillover

Don’t run the water trying to get to the hot water. If you cannot avoid this, run that water into a bowl or a jug. This is drinkable water so don’t waste it. Use it to fill your kettle, ice trays and water dispensers.

Tourism tips 

For those in the tourism and hospitality industry, save water by installing low-flowing showerheads, allowing for less water use during shower time. Save water by placing a bucket in the shower and catch the water to be used as grey water. When doing laundry loads, always do full loads.

Make sure that everyone in your business knows about the water-saving strategy and understands the rules. We are ALL responsible for using water with care. Remember, every drop counts.

Water by numbers

30 litres

The amount of water, on average, that a dripping tap or leaking toilet wastes per hour.

7 litres

The amount of water it takes to manufacture the plastic for an individual packaged bottle of water.

9 litres

The amount of water used in one flush of a toilet.


The percentage of South Africans with access to piped water.

Less than 50%

The percentage of South Africans with access to piped water running directly to their homes.

18 litres

The amount of water it takes to fill a sink to wash dishes.


The amount of water on earth which is suitable for drinking as is.


The amount of water in the average glass of water.

75 litres

The amount of water used on a “quick wash” setting on most washing machines.

8 minutes

The average South African shower time.

160-170 litres

The amount of water it takes to fill an average-sized bathtub.