Drought threatens Eastern Cape industry

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 14 February 2011

The Nelson Mandela Bay metro, which is facing a critical water shortage, needs to raise more than R1bn to avert a potential economic disaster after the Treasury “indicated” it would not provide all the funding to alleviate the effects of a prolonged drought.

The drought threatens the government’s automotive production and development plan

Ali Said, the municipality’s infrastructure and engineering director, said last week the Treasury had indicated it would provide only R450m of a requested R1,6bn in aid or about 30% of the emergency funding.

The drought of more than three years threatens billions of rand in investment in the Eastern Cape’s industrial hub, including the government’s priority automotive production and development plan.

Water-intensive industries in the Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch area — including South African Breweries, Coca-Cola Fortune, Clover and Parmalat dairy products, chocolate maker Cadbury, and Sappi pulp and paper — have long reduced their water consumption by 25%. The Coega industrial development zone, Volkswagen SA and General Motors SA, which have between them pumped more than R10bn into the region, are also affected. Continue reading

Shortage of water in Nelson Mandela Bay still critical

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 28 December 2010

The five dams supplying water to the Nelson Mandela Bay are still at critical capacity levels despite the area having experienced recent rainfall, the municipality said on Tuesday.

Churchill Dam

The Kouga, Churchill, Impofu, Lourie and Groendal dams had on average experienced a total combined capacity of 32.7% following the rainfall between 13 and 19 December, spokesman Ongama Mtimka said.

Mtimka said although there was some inflow into the storage dams that raised their capacity levels from the 31% recorded over the past few months, the shortage of water in the Nelson Mandela Bay was still critical.

– Sapa

Roll-out of 100000 solar water heaters resumes

Posted by: Yes Solar Cape (Cape Town, South Africa) – 15 September 2010

Three ground-breaking renewable energy projects earmarked for Nelson Mandela Bay with a combined investment value of more than R1-billion are on track, with at least one to start being implemented before the end of the year, top project officials have revealed.

Solar hot water. Evacuated tube installation.

They include the resumed roll- out of up to 100000 solar water heaters (high-pressure solar-powered geysers) to residents after the R900-million project was put on ice in June, as well as a proposed wind farm at Van Stadens consisting of up to 15 giant wind turbines, and methane gas harvesting facilities at the Arlington or Koedoeskloof waste disposal sites.

Because the three projects are being funded by ETA Energy Ltd – a subsidiary of parastatal the Central Energy Fund (CEF) – they are on track and unaffected by the Bay municipality’s cash-flow problems which has seen many infrastructure projects halted.

The three projects will see the metro catapulted to the forefront of attempts by cities around the country to minimise their dependence on energy provider Eskom and its steep annual price increases by “going green”. Continue reading

Nelson Mandela Bay plans to secure groundwater

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 07 July 2010

Nelson Mandela Bay’s water crisis is not over yet, with its dams at a combined capacity of 34.8%, but plans are on track to ensure the city’s supply lasts until its desalination plant is completed next year.

Kouga Dam was completed in 1976 to provide a reliable source of water for the metropolitan area of Port Elizabeth. Photo:'Port Elizabeth Dail Photo' blog.

With the Kouga Dam at 35.3% of capacity, the Churchill 21.4%, Impofu 38.8%, Loerie 36.6% and Groendal 35.5%, there is only enough water to last until March next year if there is no significant rainfall until then.

But municipal spokesman Kupido Baron says plans are under way to secure groundwater until the desalination plant is built.

The municipality applied for the city to be declared a drought disaster area in March, allowing it to apply for R1.6-billion in emergency funding. Although it has not been received, Baron said work had already started on the emergency plan.

Measures included building a R750-million desalination plant and “fast-tracking” of the R650-million Nooitgedacht Dam low-level water scheme. Other measures include using groundwater schemes and improving detection of water losses, requiring an R80-million budget.

“A site for the desalination plant has been identified at Swartkops River and we are working towards securing contractors to start work on (it). Construction is planned to begin in September and it will take six to nine months to complete.”

Baron said the municipality had already started investigating areas where it could find boreholes containing large quantities of water until the plant was completed.

“It would not make sense to sink these boreholes unless we know there is enough water below.

“The recent rains we received did a lot to stabilise the situation, because Churchill Dam was sitting on 10% and now we are on 20%, so that is a major shift, but we are not out of the drought yet and we still need people to adhere to our water restrictions,” Baron added.

Although the emergency funding had not become available yet, it would only be a matter of time.

“We have been declared a disaster area, so the government has a legal responsibility to approve the emergency funding.

“It is only a question of how much and when we will receive it.”

Source: Weekend Post

Fragile ecosystems under threat of growing communities

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 24 May 2010

How can communities develop economically and socially without damaging the fragile ecosystems they live in?

That was the primary question at a seminar hosted at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University on Friday by the national Department of Social Welfare, the UN’s Leadership for Environment and Development (Lead) programme and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

Agathosma serpyllacea - coastal fynbos, Western Cape

The seminar is one of six set to take place over the next six months in preparation for the International Training Session on Population, Climate Change and Development Conference in Port Elizabeth, in October.

One of the speakers at Friday’s event, Schalk Potgieter, assistant director of strategic planning in the municipality’s human settlement unit, said the nexus of population development and critical ecosystems was a crucial one in Mandela Bay.

Five biomes or broad indigenous vegetation zones meet here and two, coastal fynbos and thicket, are particularly fragile.

These ecosystems are vulnerable to human development and also to climate change, which will likely result in rising seas and increasingly fierce and frequent storms – putting pressure especially on impoverished communities living on marginal land.

This can result in migration by “climate change refugees” and conflict, in turn, with people in the areas where they migrate to, and greater pressure on that land. Continue reading