Hewitts go off the water grid

Mowbray couple Justin and Leanne Hewitt have converted their pool into a natural water reservoir.

With the drought situation worsening, a Mowbray couple, Justin and Leanne Hewitt, decided early on to take matters into their own hands by erecting their own private water reserve to ensure that their taps never run dry.

While many of us are using grey water and shortening our shower time, the Hewitt family have taken their water saving to the next level by converting their entire home into a catchment area.

The couple have converted their pool into a natural water pool and computerised their water collection system.

Their tanks, pool and grey water is monitored online, informing them how many litres they have in their reserve.

Their dish washing water and bath water is used to water their plants and overflow of this water is transported through pipes smartly hidden by a green grass covering to their lawn on the west side of their home. Water on their roof is also collected and filtered into their natural water catchment while the rest is collected into water tanks which filter into their outdoor bathroom and water system.

“Our water bill is about R16 per month with the new water rates in Cape Town because we do have to pay for sewerage. We only use municipal water for cleaning purposes.

“It all started when one of our koi ponds began to crack. We needed to redo the pond and because we were already in a drought situation, we didn’t want to get rid of the water, so we got the tanks. We cleaned out the swimming pool and converted it to natural. We needed tanks to move all the water around. We ended up with all these tanks and me – being an engineer and we tend to over complicate things – created a system where we didn’t have to run around for tanks anymore,” said Mr Hewitt.

This developed over last summer, and the couple has since managed to collect 15 000 litres of water from the rainfall in their private “dam” alone. The back tanks have 7 000 litres which gets filled up by the pool, and another 225 000 litres fill storage tanks with water collected from the roof.

The entire project cost a pretty penny to put together, but the couple believe that a similar water system could be recreated on a cheaper scale for approximately R25 000 if aesthetic features are compromised.

“People filling their pool are silly, why are you throwing away a very good water tank. Cover it with a deck and add fish to sort out the mosquitoes. You can convert your pool by building a wall in the swimming pool for pump infiltration in the pool or alongside it. Companies do help to convert your pool to natural.

“The fire station will come and collect any water if you would like to drain huge tanks; they will come over and suck it up for free. You also get a lot of advice on a Facebook group called Water Shedding Western Cape about which pipes to use or buy.

“I am also giving away 15 of these water level indicator pipes that I’m making on that group,” said Mr Hewitt.