Water resources survey

A project aimed at improving understanding of South Africa’s water resources will begin in April, the Water Research Commission said on Wednesday.

South Africa is a water stressed country

The Water Resources of South Africa 2012 study would bridge the 10-year gap between the commission’s other hydrological surveys, research manager Wandile Nomquphu said in a statement.

This was necessary because South Africa was a “water-stressed country, with accelerated demands, in which rainfall is highly variable with real threats of climate change impacts”.

Constantly updated information was needed to assess the quantity and quality of the country’s water, and measure climate change.

Certain aspects of water quality and ground water measurements would be included in the survey, which would inform the national water resource strategy.

– Sapa

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

Rift Valley fever outbreak imminent

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 05 January 2011

The heavy rains over the past few weeks have been a welcomed development in water-strapped parts of the country, however, the Free State Agriculture Department has warned of an imminent outbreak of Rift Valley fever.

The Aedes mosquito transmits Rift Valley while feeding on farm animals

“The above average rainfall seen in this past week spells an inevitable consequence of yet another Rift Valley Fever outbreak,” said the department on Tuesday.

The heavy showers cause shallow water surfaces and water pans to become flooded. Combined with warm weather conditions, this promotes the breeding of mosquitoes, which transmit the disease.

According to the World Health Organisation, a specific species of mosquito, the Aedes, transmits this viral disease while feeding on farm animals like sheep, goats and cattle.

The disease leads to the death of newborn lambs and calves and abortions in ewes and cows.

Humans become infected by handling tissues or organs of diseased animals.

The department has emphasised the seriousness of infection in people, saying that at times, it can be life threatening. Symptoms include severe muscle and joint pains, high fever, severe headaches and blurred vision.

The outbreak of Rift Valley fever during 2010 resulted in 232 human cases, 26 of which died from the disease.

Vaccination is the only effective method to protect livestock, and farmers are advised to vaccinate their animals once a year. They should also dip them weekly to control mosquitoes and to use insect repellent sprays or pour-ons.

The public is urged not to handle any sick animals or cut up any dead animals or aborted foetuses. Protective clothing and goggles should be used when touching sick or dead animals.

Source: Bua News

Dams overflow with more rain expected

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 04 January 2011

The Gariep Dam, the largest dam in South Africa, is 107 percent full with an outflow of 1670 cubic metres per second.

Dept of water affairs urges caution in the vicinity of the Vaal Orange River System

The water levels of the four largest dams in the Orange River catchment were rising following heavy rains in the past day, the department of water affairs said on Tuesday.

The Vaal Dam was 103% full and three sluice gates were open, spokeswoman Linda Page said in a statement.

It had an outflow of 870 cubic metres per second.

In the Free State the capacity of the Bloemhof Dam was currently at 104% with an outflow of 1000 cubic metres per second.

The Gariep Dam, the largest dam in South Africa, was at 107 percent with an outflow of 1670 cubic metres per second which would increase to about 2900 cubic metres per second, Page said.

The capacity of the second largest dam, the Vanderkloof Dam, was at 107.7% with an outflow of 1323 cubic metres per second and would increase to about 2500 cubic metres per second.

As more rain was forecast over the next 24 hours, it was expected that changes to outflows would be made, she said.

“The department of water affairs wishes to again urge all communities to exercise caution in the vicinity of the Vaal Orange River System and affected dams,”

– Sapa

Water rethink as migrants pour into Cape Town

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 06 December 2010

Tens of thousands of migrants pouring into Cape Town are forcing authorities to rethink the city’s water supply strategy.

Migration growth is now "16 000 households per annum" at 5 people per household

“There are quite large numbers of people coming in and the city needs to review its water-use growth strategy,” department of water affairs’ Western Cape chief director, Rashid Khan, told Sapa.

He said assumptions made by Cape Town’s water planners in 2007 were “now being overtaken by some serious developments, that is (population) growth”.

His remarks followed an announcement by the department that it was “exploring initiatives to ensure that water use in and around Cape Town does not outstrip supply in the near future”.

It had recently learned that “water use may be growing faster than anticipated”, despite significant successes achieved by the city in reducing water usage.

“An increase in demand could have serious implications for the supply area, as the next augmentation project may well have to be fast-tracked to ensure an adequate supply of water to every city, town and industry that gets its water from the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS). Continue reading