We need to transform the way water is used

There is no food security without water security

Drought in some parts of the world has hurt global grain production and contributed to food price spikes virtually every other year since 2007, highlighting the need to transform the way water is used – and wasted – throughout the entire food chain.

This is one of the key messages that the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (“FAO”) is transmitting this week at World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. The annual event brings policy makers and experts from around the globe together to discuss pressing issues related to water and its management.

In a speech made today at the Week’s opening ceremony, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva stressed that “there is no food security without water security,” noting that FAO’s recent report, The State of Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture, warns that water scarcity and pollution are posing a growing risk to key food production systems around the world.

“Agriculture, as we practice it today, is one of the causes of this phenomenon, as it represents 70% of all freshwater uses,” said Graziano da Silva.

But, he also noted, the food production sector also offers tremendous potential for changing how the world uses water. Continue reading

Major water risk

One big drought in the Vaal River catchment area over the next eight years could jeopardise the region’s agricultural and industrial output, senior Eskom and Sasol managers have warned.

Eskom uses 330 million cubic metres of water a year to keep its power stations running

Speaking at the end of the World Water Forum in Marseille, France, they said the period from now until 2020, when Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) starts delivering water to the Vaal, was one of “major risk”.

While a drought would not necessarily pose a threat to the two corporations’ ability to generate power and manufacture fuel – both Eskom and Sasol are deemed “strategic water users” and unlikely to have their supply curtailed – the same would not apply to others.

Particularly vulnerable would be large industrial water users, agriculture and municipalities located in and around the country’s economic heartland, Gauteng.

Eskom’s general manager for water and environmental operations, Nandha Govender, told Sapa a drought would see the region “pushing the boundaries” of available water supply.

“The capacity of the Vaal system is a major risk. We see the crucial period being between now and 2020, when Phase II of the LHWP starts delivering water.

“The risk lies with large industrial water users, agriculture and the municipalities… It’s a situation we don’t want to get into.”

Govender also said although 2020 was the date set by government for Phase II to start delivering more water to the region, large projects of this nature often missed such targets, and the first water might only start flowing from Lesotho in 2021, or 2022. Continue reading

Polokwane water reservoirs dry up

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 03 Oct 2011

Residents of Polokwane Municipality, including the business sector, are being urged to drastically cut down on use of water with immediate effect as water reservoirs dry up.

The main culprit is the continuous watering of gardens.

Municipal spokesperson Simon Mokoatedi said the reservoir levels were alarming.

He confirmed that the Potgieter reservoir was empty and the Krugersburg reservoirs were at 20%.

The reservoir supplying Seshego from the Olifants River is at 0.5%.

The municipality is regulating flow and diverting supply to areas in intervals, which is leading to low pressure and complete shortages in some areas. Seshego and Legae la Batho are without water. The city and Mankweng are experiencing low pressure.

According to the municipality, the main culprit is the continuous watering of gardens, despite it issuing several warnings.

“All sources are pumping water into the city at full capacity and these sources have exceeded the quota for extracting water. Unfortunately, there is no other source to augment the supply. The municipality is warning the public if the high usage of water continues at this rate, the entire municipality will experience serious water shortage,” said Mokoatedi.

“This is largely attributable to an increasing trend in a number of factors such as the watering of gardens, leaking pipes, washing of cars and using hoses.”

Meanwhile, the municipality is importing 93% of its water, supplied from outside the borders of the municipal area – 56% is imported from the Letaba water scheme and 37% from the Olifants scheme. The balance of 7% is supplied from sources within Polokwane.

On average, the municipality supplies 64.95 megalitres (ML) per day but the supply has increased to more than 72ML per day over the past four weeks.

“This usage is not sustainable and we have to cut back drastically to avoid shortages,” said Mokoatedi.

By: Mpho Dube
Source: New Age

Climate change intensifies El Niño and La Niña

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 29 Aug 2011

The severe drought in the Horn of Africa, which has caused the death of at least 30 000 children and is affecting some 12 million people, especially in Somalia, is a direct consequence of weather phenomena associated with climate change and global warming, environmental scientists say.

The intensification of La Niña will see growing desertification in Africa. Photo UNCCD.

“The present drought in the Horn of Africa has been provoked by El Niño and La Niña phenomena in the Pacific Ocean, which unsettle the normal circulation of warm and cold water and air, and dislocate the humidity conditions across the southern hemisphere,” Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe, senior scientist at the German Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK, after its German name), told IPS.

Both phenomena are a part of the southern oscillation climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean every five to seven years. It is characterised by variations in the temperature of the surface of the tropical eastern Pacific – warming or cooling known as El Niño and La Niña respectively – and a changing air surface pressure in the western Pacific. Continue reading

Cape Town drought may bring water restrictions

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 17 Aug 2011

Cape Town may be subjected to water restrictions this summer because August and September are likely to be drier than usual, a climate researcher has warned.

Predicted below average rainfall will bring water restrictions

Peter Johnston, of UCT’s Climate Systems Analysis Group, said there was no need for desperate concern just yet – but this could change if no more winter rain fell.

Traditionally, the province’s dams are full in August and September. However, Johnston said, after the driest July in years, and with below average rainfall predicted for this and next month, water restrictions could become necessary.

The provincial government has urged farmers to store water for the summer months.

Johnston’s colleague, Mark Tadross, said a high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean was keeping storms away from the Western Cape. “We don’t know why (this is happening),” said Tadross. “Of concern is that the dams are well below what they should be (at) this time of the year.”

The regional manager for weather services in the Western and Northern Cape, Antarctica and islands, Johan Stander, said the forecast was dry for the next couple of months. “Because of climate change, adverse conditions will happen more frequently and storms will be more severe.”

Wouter Kriel, the spokesman for Agriculture, and Rural Development MEC Gerrit van Rensburg said:

“We are monitoring the rainfall, but there are no red flags yet. We are advising farmers to fill up their water storage facilities.”

Source: IOL