Offbeat 03 June 2016
The water situation in 061 is troubling to say the least. The municipality is obviously intent on getting as much water back into the drainage system, so it is restricting grey water. This is the item that seems to be causing the most public concern: people still want their gardens.
What nobody has commented on much is the couple of statements that restrict other uses of water: no storing water, no illicit selling of water, and no movement of water from one place to another. These water regulations have the character of regulations that are put in place to conserve and distribute resources when a black market may emerge.
The character of the announcements seem to indicate that water will become so scarce that black market sales will arise. Scary stuff, but real. I can’t say I disagree with the regulations. Water needs to be distributed equitably.
In spite of repeating cycles of drought and repetitive campaigns, some of which I wrote, suburban Windhoek has grown fat, lazy and complacent on water. If the tap works, water is there for use. But it’s a western pattern. A shower seems to be a noble sacrifice, but in circumstances where water is carried to the household, a wash in a bucket using two liters and a flannel cloth, is actually a luxury. After all, those two liters have to be carried to the household.
One of the major complaints is that nothing was done to develop infrastructure to secure the water supply. It holds some merit, but right now, we are in a situation where we can’t blame others in the expectation that there will be some sense of justice. We have to look at our behaviour and, to my mind, stock up on buckets and flannels.
There is a complaint about the Eveline Street car washes that troubles me. Maybe that water can be saved. On the other hand, the Eveline Street car washes provide some form of minor income to the extremely poor. If those jobs go, the potential for crime increases. The sound way would be not to put a halt to washing cars, but to look for ways to wash them with a very small amount of water, maybe redesignating them car wipes instead of car washes.
Perhaps people who want their cars washed should bring their own bottles of water. But that would flout the regulation on transporting water. At least Eveline street is becoming notorious for something other than shebeens. Why can’t we have a campaign to promote social exclusion for people who still have green lawns? There are more than enough of those around to cause anger.
The root of the problem is the high-water consumption pattern of the western lifestyle. The pattern is unthinking. Because water saving is by and large still an unknown thing in spite of repetitive cautions and education, there is no balanced view, so the responses are knee-jerk. The threat to incomes in Eveline Street, and its socio-economic impact, is a case in point. Everything has ripples, pardon the tasteless pun.
And on the topic of atrocious puns, creeks need water, so the fact that we don’t have a paddle seems to be less of a problem than previously thought. Sewage and sanitation are now the major problems.
The root of the thing lies in ostentatious lifestyles and expectations. In current thought, more is bigger and better, but obviously it’s not.
Just about every day, I get an email newsletter from the tiny house movement, lifestyle porn.
The homes they feature are minute and extremely compact. They show me that it is possible to live with just a few possessions, maybe a minimal bit of ornamentation or keepsake possessions and, above all, less resources. Nowadays, most joys, luxuries and diversions can be accessed on a small device: books, films and music. There is less of a need to sprawl and accumulate.
Wanting less possessions and using less resources is possible. The world is changing, but we seem to be locked in older, less sustainable ways of living. Less water is one of the changes we have to absorb. Maybe washing in a basin or bucket should become the new normal.