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Reduce water demand or face a shortfall

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 03 April 2010

The question of whether we are facing a water crisis similar to the energy crisis has driven Umfula Wempilo Consulting’s Chris Harold to become concerned about water supply and demand.

Illegal water abstraction in the Vaal river system is estimated at 180-million litres a year.

“My motivation is that water is the single and greatest force of peace for the people in Africa and I still believe that,” Harold said in a recent address at a conference hosted by the South African Institution of Civil Engineering.

He added that he had been accused of being an alarmist, but outlined that the art of prophesy was to motivate the actions that proved one wrong and that alarmists always took action. “The water crisis is caused by supply shortfall, resource theft, water demand management failures, decaying infrastructure and water quality,” said Harold.

He pointed out the government concurred that, unless something was done about the current growing trends and needs, there would be a water shortage by 2013. “If we do not achieve a reduction in demand, we will run the risk of a water shortfall.” Illegal water abstraction in the Vaal river system is estimated at 180-million litres a year.

In a bid to avoid water restrictions by 2014, urban water demand management is said to be gaining momentum in Gauteng, but at a pace that one expert believes is inadequate to meet its target of a 15% water consumption reduction in the next five years.

Last year, at the Afriwater’s Water Institute of South Africa conference, engineering consultancy WRP’s Willem Wegelin cautioned that water demand in the Gauteng area exceeded the capacity of the Vaal river system and that the province was already in deficit in terms of water consumption.

Wegelin pointed out that some of the challenges facing the implementation of water demand management included illegal irrigation and water loss, such as through leaking taps and valves. He said even approval for the Polihali dam, in Lesotho, would not bail this country out as its earliest possible delivery date was 2018.

The Polihali dam is part of phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, valued at R7,3-billion. The feasibility study, which cost R56-million, has been completed.

Source: Engineering News

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