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Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

We need to plan for water security

By: Deon Nel – head of the biodiversity unit of WWF South Africa.

With Human Rights Day fresh in our minds, it is appropriate to reflect on the words of the late Kader Asmal, an unrelenting defender of human rights and a former minister of water affairs. Speaking as the patron of WWF South Africa’s Water Balance Programme, Asmal observed that “water runs through our every aspiration as a society”.

The World Economic Forum ranked a “water supply crisis” as the second most important global risk in its Global Risks 2012 report. Photograph: Mahesh Kumar A/AP

Water affects everything we do, both positive and negative. From a governance point of view, this complicates things. To illustrate, some of the most important strategic decisions affecting water – for instance, mining, agriculture, urban planning and energy – are not led by the Department of Water Affairs, which merely plays an administrative role of issuing water licences, often after the fact. Added to this, the minister of mineral resources is currently asking the Constitutional Court to further exempt mining from the normal planning processes that apply to all other forms of economic development.

This would be problematic. However, when we consider the dire water situation, it reaches a critical scale.

The nascent National Planning Commission (NPC) provides a unique opportunity to deal with such a highly integrative and complex issue at its appropriate national strategic level. The first report produced by the NPC, the national diagnostic report, recognised the fundamental role of water. Continue reading We need to plan for water security

Strict water saving measures urged in food industry

Key players in South Africa’s food industry have been urged to implement strict water saving measures to address the country’s impending water deficit that is threatening food security and produce.

Water recycling

The appeal comes from Gareth Lloyd-Jones, managing director of Ecowize – the hygiene and sanitation company servicing the food sector.

In a report compiled by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) last year, it was said that there have been repeated warnings that SA faces a water supply crisis. Furthermore the report stated that SA’s freshwater resources will be fully depleted by 2030 and unable to meet the needs of people, industry and its neighbours if people continue to exploit their water resources by following a “business as usual” approach.

“This report highlights the critical need for food producers and manufacturers to realise the magnitude of this crisis and take responsibility and make concerted efforts to prevent water wastage often caused by, pipe bursts and water leaks and unscheduled use of water,” said Lloyd-Jones. Continue reading Strict water saving measures urged in food industry

DRC – study warns of alarming trends

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 10 Oct 2011

With half of Africa’s forests and water resources and trillion-dollar mineral reserves, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could become a powerhouse of African development provided multiple pressures on its natural resources are urgently addressed.

About 50% of Africa’s total water resources are concentrated within the Congo basin

A major Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment of the DRC by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) underlines the global significance and extraordinary potential of the country’s natural and mineral resources.

However, the study warns of alarming trends including increased deforestation, species depletion, heavy metal pollution and land degradation from mining, as well as an acute drinking water crisis which has left an estimated 51 million Congolese without access to potable water.

The outcomes of the two-year assessment have been released today in Kinshasa, by UNEP’s Executive Director, Mr Achim Steiner, and the DRC’s Environment Minister, Mr José Endundo.

Conducted in conjunction with the DRC’s Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism, the assessment highlights successful initiatives and identifies strategic opportunities to restore livelihoods, promote good governance and support the sustainability of the DRC’s post-conflict economic reconstruction, and reinforce ongoing peace consolidation.

The study’s good news is that most of the DRC’s environmental degradation is not irreversible and there has been substantial progress in strengthening environmental governance.

For example, through steps such as regular anti-poaching patrols, the Congolese Wildlife Authority has secured the Virunga National Park, which at the peak of the DRC’s crisis was losing the equivalent of 89 hectares of forest each day due to illegal fuelwood harvesting.

However, the country’s rapidly growing population of nearly 70 million people – most of whom directly depend on natural resources for their survival – and intense international competition for raw materials are adding to the multiple pressures on the DRC’s natural resource base. Continue reading DRC – study warns of alarming trends

Environmental awareness to be central to all school curricula

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 28 June 2011

With climate change now widely recognised as the major environmental problem facing the world, the South African government is taking awareness to schools with plans to incorporate more environmental studies into the school curricula.

South Africa's population is increasing at a steady rate while water levels remain the same

Projects to curb climate change are also being designed and will be made available to all schools across the country, according to Basic Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty. He said officials were working on making sure that environment awareness formed part of and was central to all school curricula.

“We all know by now that we have a problem of climate change and everybody is talking about it so we are using all platforms to redirect the attention of our young people to the importance of conserving the environment and making sure that we mitigate the impacts of the problem,” Surty said at the third annual Youth Water Summit organised by the Water Affairs Department on Tuesday.

With South Africa hosting the 17th UN Congress of Parties (COP 17) on climate change in a few months time, the Water Summit, which started last week, gave the floor to young citizens from all nine provinces and several SADC countries to share and discuss water and the need to save the environment. They all agreed that it was up to them to reverse the damage caused by global warming to the climate and committed to save the world for future generations.

Water Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi conceded that water shortages and climate change were among the greatest challenges to South Africa’s development. Continue reading Environmental awareness to be central to all school curricula

Shocking ecosystems spur water crisis

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 22 March 2011

By: Duncan Alfreds

The ecosystems in SA are under threat and unless something is done urgently, the country will face a water crisis, a researcher has found.

Up to 85% of our estuaries are critically endangered .

“Our ecosystems are in a shocking state,” CSIR researcher Dr Jeanne Nel told News24 at the World Water Day 2011 conference in Cape Town.

Nel’s remarks at the conference were underpinned by the water report by the CSIR and released to the public. It showed that water ecosystems were under threat from a variety of factors, including development and industry.

“Up to 85% of our estuaries are critically endangered and in the past five years we’ve been able to map the zone of an estuary. Our big systems are in trouble,” she said.

Estuaries form the transition ground between river and ocean environments and play a critical role in managing the marine ecosystem, but they are also sensitive to ecological damage from farming or industry. Continue reading Shocking ecosystems spur water crisis