Future water supplies lie in demand management

By: Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor (Founder of Water Rhapsody Conservation Systems and winner of a WWF Green Trust Award)

Water is in the news again, but never has the situation been as dire as today.  Quite simply – Cape Town is out of water. Any new augmentation schemes are not sustainable.

The following are proposed non-sustainable schemes:

  • Damming the Lourens River at Somerset West:  This will add less than one percent capacity to our beleaguered situation.  There are no more rivers that can possibly be dammed to provide any more water for Cape Town.
  • Extracting water from the berg by pumping to the Voëlvlei Dam:  The well-respected head of the Freshwater Research Unit at UCT, Prof Jenny Day, commented that this was a “no-no”.  Already the salinity of the Lower Berg River is rising to unacceptable standards, and any further extraction will make this worse.  The situation of the Lower Breede River is equally parlous.
  • Desalination of sea water:  this is not sustainable as it is too costly on any scale let alone on a large scale.  Costly because each kilolitre of water desalinated from sea water will cost more energy than we have got or we likely will get. Desalination costs eight kilowatt hours per kilolitre of desalinated water.  Further problems of desalination are that a super saline concentrate is returned back to sea, which turns valleys in the sea into a place where neither plants nor animals can survive.
  • Pumping from the TMG (Table Mountain Aquifer):  Already we have seen deep boreholes dry up and collapse in this aquifer and any extraction from this aquifer will have a negative impact on the river systems as this is most likely where the recharge of the aquifer will come from.  These are the same rivers that are now dammed to extinction throughout the Western Cape.
  • Recycling of sewerage effluent:  while this is to be supported, it must be understood that this will not be acceptable to some of our religious groups.  It should also be noted that our sewerage systems are in an unsafe condition, and we need some 6.6 billion Rand to upgrade and build new sewerage treatment works.  Here too energy plays a huge role, as 90% of the running cost of our sewerage treatment works is the energy cost of pumping water around the various treatment sewerage works.  At last check there was only 300 million on any long term budget for upgrading sewerage works. Continue reading

Green Building Council urges SA to set world example

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 26 Aug 2011

With the international community poised to arrive in South Africa for the UNFCCC’s 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) climate change talks in Durban in December 2011, the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) is urging South African industry, business and government to work together to achieve the mitigation potential offered by greening our built environment, and thereby set an example for the rest of the world.

Water tanks store harvested rainwater for use at False Bay Ecology Centre.

“Worldwide, buildings are responsible for about a third of all carbon emissions,” says Bruce Kerswill, Executive Chair of the GBCSA.  “Consider that this translates to one in every three tons of carbon released into the atmosphere is from buildings – so the built environment has a major role to play in climate change.”

At the previous climate talks in Cancun, Mexico (COP 16) in 2010, South Africa  committed to reducing our carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025. Given that we are heavily reliant on coal for our electricity, one of the fastest and easiest ways to reduce our emissions is through the greening of our built environment (our homes, offices, shops, etc).

In fact global experts have recognised the potential reductions in emissions from the built environment through green buildings as a “low hanging fruit” of carbon emission mitigation – a relatively quick and easy way to turn things around with readily available tools and technologies. Continue reading

We can all reduce water consumption

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 25 Aug 2011

It’s not only businesses and public entities that should assume the responsibility of saving water, but homeowners can play a major role as well.

A Cape Town school recently installed a Water Rhapsody Poolside Tank to recycle up to 15000 litres of swimming pool backwash water every week; sending the clarified water safely back to the pool.

CEO of car rental company Avis, Wayne Duvenage, did not mince his words at the Sustainable Water Resource Conference and Exhibition; attended by leading water experts and business people.

Recycling water for reuse in buildings was the experts’ principal recommendation. Homeowners are also advised to go for recycling technologies.

Avis saved 75-million litres of water in 2010 in its major centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Harvesting rainwater is a focus of Avis’ recycling efforts. “You know how much it rains in Cape Town, so it’s nice to switch off municipal water and use rainwater,” said Duvenage.

South Africa is water-stressed, experts at the conference revealed. Reports have pointed out that the country runs the risk of facing critical shortages by 2020.

“South Africa is stressed both in the quantity and quantity of water that we have,” Duvenage said.

Alison Groves, a sustainability consultant at WSP Green by Design, said: “In South Africa we need to get beyond the idea that water is always going to be available.”

New solutions are needed to sustain potable water availability, Groves added. Continue reading

Cape Town on brink of water restrictions

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 01 Aug 2011

A University of Cape Town climatologist on Monday warned that the Mother City’s water situation is critical.

Using grey water for irrigation

Recent figures indicate Cape Town received about 20 millimetres of rainfall in July. That is well below the month’s average figure of 140 millimetres.

Dams are currently at about 70 percent capacity, but climatologist Peter Johnstone said if it does not rain soon, dams may run dry by summer.

Johnstone said it may become necessary to impose strict water restrictions.

“After September the rainfall gets very low and if it comes to October, November, December with very little rain, we start using a lot of water, then we find that our dams are running at 30 percent full and that is very, very risky…”

He added, “At that sort of levels we are going to have very strict water restrictions.”

Farmers are also battling.

Chief Executive Officer of Agri Wes-Cape, Carl Opperman, said they are desperate for more rain.

“The rain that we received last week was not enough, but it was basically just enough to tick us over the critical phase that was busy developing. We are looking for some more rain,” he said.

By: Rafiq Wagiet
Source: Eye witness news

Grey water will green your garden all year round

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 16 April 2011

Installing a grey water system provides safe garden irrigation all year round and saves money and water.

Using grey water for irrigation

Grey water is waste water from baths, basins showers and washing machines, and can be used safely to irrigate lawns and gardens provided certain rules are followed.

Rule 1. The correct choice of washing powders is necessary to avoid harm to plants (also see: Commercial washing powders destroy wetland). The use of a phosphate-free washing powder is required as well as avoiding fabric softeners or sodium hypochlorite, eg Jik. Provided that laundry washing powder is changed to one that is phosphate free, grey water is perfectly safe for all gardens, including fynbos.

Rule 2. It is important to avoid wastewater from kitchen sinks and dishwashers as this wastewater contains detergents that can harm your garden.

Rule 3. When harvesting grey water it is necessary to expel the wastewater to the garden immediately – it may not be stored for later use, as in a short period the grey water turns to black water.

Once grey water has been correctly identified it is re-routed from the gully (sewer) to a small chamber from where it is automatically and silently pumped to the garden for irrigation. This is normally sent to a flexible hose and pyramid style sprinkler, providing up to 6 meters of spray.

A correctly installed system must also be connected to the sewer pipe line. This will ensure that any overflow, e.g. caused by a power failure, will see the grey water sent to sewer.

Water Rhapsody has 18 years of experience in grey water solutions, and provides a complete system installation; leaving you with years of free water and a green, healthy garden.