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

Water is critical to creating a better future

Source: FAO

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said that producing enough food to feed the world’s rapidly growing population will require the international community to ensure the sustainable use of the world’s “most critical finite resource,” water.

1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted each year

“Unless we increase our capacity to use water wisely in agriculture, we will fail to end hunger and we will open the door to a range of other ills, including drought, famine and political instability,” warned Ban in a statement read at the start of World Water Day 2012 ceremonies taking place at FAO.

In many parts of the world, water scarcity is increasing and rates of growth in agricultural production have been slowing, he noted. At the same time, climate change is exacerbating risk and unpredictability for farmers, “especially for poor farmers in low-income countries who are the most vulnerable and the least able to adapt,” he said.

Guaranteeing sustainable food and water security for all will require transferring appropriate water technologies, empowering small food producers and conserving essential ecosystem services, the UN chief said. He also called for policies that promote water rights for all, stronger regulatory capacity and gender equality.

“Water will play a central role in creating the future we want,” concluded Ban. “At the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit, the international community will need to connect the dots between water security and food and nutrition security in the context of a green economy.” 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

Raising the profile of water

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 06 Dec 2011

Efforts to establish water as an agenda item in its own right in climate change negotiations are gaining momentum in Durban, South Africa. Water experts say doing this will lead to a greater focus on developing policy, and attract more resources into the water sector through adaptation programmes.

As rainfall patterns change, Africa is facing major crises

“For every one of us, the first thing you use when you wake up in the morning is water, and when we are going to bed, it is water. Yet, it’s taken for granted,” says Chris Moseki, research manager at the Water Research Commission (WRC) in South Africa. WRC is a member of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) – a global alliance of organisations working on water issues.

Access to water is an urgent issue here in the Southern Africa region, where nearly 100 million people lack adequate access to water. Modelling by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa shows the region will become hotter and drier over the next 50 to 100 years, putting farms, industry, domestic water supply and natural ecosystems at risk.

International water experts and policy makers are concerned that planning for changes to water availability is not getting the prominence it deserves. Bai-Mass Taal, the Executive Secretary of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), says they are working to raise the profile of water within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“We are saying to the parties, look: we appreciate what you are doing in other sectors, but without addressing water directly, all of that will be in vain,” says Taal. 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