Blue Gold could ignite military conflict

Expert warns of future SADC water conflicts. Africa faces absolute water shortages by 2025

Recent statistics and developments indicate that availability of the precious liquid ‑ or blue gold as it is now called ‑ is declining and has the potential to be a major source of military conflict.

The Nsanje Inland Port on Shire River sparked a diplomatic dispute

And SADC is not immune to the problem.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Environmental Outlook to 2030 Report, about 1.2 billion people are living in areas of water scarcity, while 47 percent of the global population will live in areas of high water stress by 2030.

It is statistics such as these that have analysts worrying that future wars will be fought over blue gold, as thirsty people, opportunistic politicians and powerful corporations battle for dwindling resources.

Last week an official in Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Henrie Manford Njiloma, warned that rising populations and industrial development in SADC were resulting in increased water demand and could cause political instability if not managed well.

In particular reference to Malawi, he said: “Despite enjoying political stability internally and peaceful coexistence with neighbours, subtle issues in the Malawian water sector affecting both internal and external political stability exist and hence as seen elsewhere in the world could be a cause for future conflicts.” Continue reading

Water demand management for Kimberley

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

The water supply to houses in Kimberley will be cut for the next two nights to help restore reservoir water levels, the Sol Plaatje municipality said on Wednesday.

The municipality is to restart an old water treatment plant in Riverton

“The exercise is only preventative and the decision to conduct the shutdown at night was to reduce the impact on the residents,” said municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie.

He said the controlled water supply shutdown was to restore water levels at the Newton reservoirs.

“We would like to indicate that there is supply to the entire city at the moment.”

Matsie said the controlled shutdown would be from 20:00 on Wednesday until 05:00 on Thursday.

The process would be repeated from Thursday night to Friday morning.

The shutdowns would help the municipality restore the water levels at the reservoirs to a comfortable level for a continued supply to residents.

Matsie said the municipality had also decided to restart an old water treatment plant in Riverton to improve the bulk supply capacity of the Sol Plaatje area.

“The refurbishments at the plant will be stepped up at the same time.”

The Riverton water plant would add an immediate 27 megalitres a day to the city’s water supply.

Once the plant was fully operational, this figure would climb to 54 megalitres a day.

Matsie said residents would be notified when the water levels in the reservoirs had been restored.

– Sapa

Cape Town looks towards desalination

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

By: John Yeld

The City of Cape Town plans to call for tenders for a feasibility study on a large-scale seawater desalination plant, as the region runs increasingly close to using all of its available fresh water supply.

Water scarcity may require winter rainfall pumped from the Berg into Voelvlei Dam

The tender call, expected within a month, will be for a study on where such a desalination plant could be built and what capacity it should have.

The call coincides with a major effort to plug water leaks and theft that, in February last year, accounted for one quarter of all treated water in the city, and with a warning that few options remain for tapping existing surface water sources.

The city will also be looking at the large-scale re-use of water. This is the only potential major new water source at a cost lower than seawater desalination, which is very expensive because of the large amount of electricity required. This study is expected to kick off “within the next few months”.

These initiatives are among the water conservation and water demand management measures that form a major part of the strategy for providing water in the Western Cape region that is already using about 92 percent of all “safely” available water. “Safely” means with a high degree of certainty of availability, without water restrictions.

Depending on how successful these measures are and on how much the city grows, the remaining 8 percent of available water will be fully utilised anywhere between 2017 and 2019, according to projections by the Department of Water Affairs. Continue reading

Adopt a River project allocated R2 million

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

An amount of R2 million has been allocated to the Adopt a River project to allow it to continue for another 12 months.

Adopt-a-river. Women beneficiaries clean litter out of the Buffalo River.

Launching the Buffalo Adopt a River project on Friday in King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, reported that 595 job opportunities have been created through the project.

The initiative is currently implemented in Limpopo, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Free State, which were the pilot provinces.

Mabudafhasi said through the project, women have acquired skills in waste management, occupational health and safety, identification of alien weeds and herbicide application, water safety, snake handling, first aid, environmental education and life skills.

“The other direct benefit is that the health of rivers has improved drastically. The Buffalo River project employed 100 women from the rural poor communities around the 17 wards of Amathole District Municipality, including Buffalo City Municipality and Amahlathi Local Municipality, who are involved in the cleaning of solid waste and alien vegetation species along the banks of the Buffalo River. Continue reading

Water partnership launched to protect SA’s water resources

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

At the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of South Africa Edna Molewa, Chairman of Nestlé and Chairman of the Water Resources Group Peter Brabeck-Letmathe announced today a Declaration of Partnership.

Water demand is expected to rise by 52% within 30 years while supply is sharply declining

Recognizing the critical role that water plays as a catalyst for both economic growth and social development, the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) of South Africa forges a partnership with the Water Resources Group (WRG), an influential public-private global network on water supported by the World Economic Forum and the International Finance Corporation.

This new public-private group, chaired by the director-general of the DWA, will oversee the activities of a partnership called “South Africa Strategic Water Partners Network” to address critical water issues in South Africa: water conservation, demand management and developing more sustainable management of groundwater resources.

“This new partnership between the Government of South Africa and the Water Resources Group will help identify how South Africa’s plans for growth can be met with the water it has safely available. The foresight and leadership of Minister Molewa in this regard should be applauded” remarked Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of Nestlé and Chairman of the Water Resources Group.

In South Africa, water demand is expected to rise by 52% within the next 30 years while the supply of water is sharply declining. If current trends of leakage from aged and poorly maintained municipal infrastructure and the loss of wetlands persist, this growth in demand will intensify competition for water resources across all sectors of the economy (agriculture, energy industry and domestic).

Should status quo in management practices remain, a gap of 17% between water demand and supply is forecast by 2030. This gap will have serious social and political implications and strongly impact South Africa’s plans for economic growth. Continue reading