New technology the answer to water shortages, says resident

As seen in Constantiaberg Bulletin – Written by Karen Watkins

Birger Lundgren with the Wostman eco-flush toilet.

For many people, Day Zero is history, but not for Constantia’s Birger Lundgren.

During the drought he got used to short showers and to carrying buckets to flush toilets, but he hated the “if it’s yellow let it mellow” approach to water saving.

He wanted his modern and comfortable lifestyle back and looked for a long-term water-efficient solution.

He believes that drilling boreholes, installing rainwater tanks and desalination are not the answer to Cape Town’s water shortage. New technology is the answer, he says.

Not finding anything locally manufactured he resorted to importing an eco-flush toilet that has been around in the archipelago of his home country of Sweden for 30 years. Mr Lundgren said fresh water was not a problem in Sweden but flushing it away was.

“In the old days, it was pumped into the sea. Then it was collected in septic tanks that were cleaned out every three years. Then a toilet was invented with low water usage which is now used by thousands of people in Sweden.”

It looks like any conventional toilet with a double-flush function, but peer into the bowl and you’ll notice it is divided to separate urine from poo allowing the right amount of water to flush each.

Curious about what happens to the paper, I tried it, and for a number one, it works. Mr Lundgren said the urine bowl in front uses 300ml of water and the large flush releases 2.5 litres into the entire bowl. This against 1 litre and 9 litres for a conventional dual-flush toilet.

Mr Lundgren fitted one eco-flush toilet in his four-bedroom house and left the others as is.

He then looked at his showers after getting tired of military style quick washing and came up with another Swedish product. It looks space age and complicated, but an eight-minute shower uses the same amount of water as a two-minute conventional one.

Larry English, of Milnerton, who is in the backpacker tourism industry, tested it. He was impressed, especially because it is possible to shower without getting hair wet. Mr Lundgren said the shower atomised water streams into millions of tiny droplets of mist.

It uses 2.7 litres a minute as opposed to a conventional 10-litre shower head – up to a 70% saving. As of Monday May 20 the combined water storage for Cape Town was 46% at 412 815 megalitres. During the drought years of May 2018 and 2017 it was about 20% or 189 375 megalitres. In May 2016, it was 30% at 275 561 megalitres and in May 2015 it was 49.5% at 445 054 megalitres.

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