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Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

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 Water partnership launched to protect SA’s water resources

Where does our water come from?

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 23 March 2011

“South Africa needs to be more sensible about the use and management of land and water resources. The more we reduce the ecosystems’ ability to deliver clean fresh water, the less water secure we will be and the greater the cost we will have to pay for our water,” says Mark Botha, Head of WWF’s conservation programmes.

We need to concentrate more of our efforts on catchment security. Photo by: Peter Chadwick

This week (20-27 March) marks South Africa’s National Water Week 2011, and the theme for this year is, “Water for cities: addressing the urban water challenge.”

“Many South Africans, especially those living in urban areas do not have a full understanding of where the water that flows from their taps really comes from, and the key role clean catchments play in providing it,” says Botha.

“Cape Town has run out of water many times in the last century. Each time an expensive “supply side” solution was found to buy us more time, but always at a cost. Now, with augmentation (further water supply) options rapidly diminishing, we’re finding that the biggest cost of dams is the complacency that they leave us with as ratepayers.”

“At some point, we need to realise that we cannot only continue building more dams and other water infrastructure, but that it is imperative to invest in the natural resources that we already have. We need to concentrate more of our efforts on catchment security,” says Botha. Continue reading Where does our water come from?

Scientists to highlight water insecurity

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

Demand for water in agriculture and energy production could spike in the coming decades while catastrophic floods and droughts strike more often, a water conference in Canada is to hear this week.

A pair of denim jeans requires up to 6 tons of virtual water

“At unpredictable times, too much water will arrive in some places and too little in others,” said Zafar Adeel, chair of UN Water which coordinates water-related efforts of 28 United Nations organizations and agencies.

Within a generation, water demand in many countries is forecast to exceed supply by an estimated 40 percent.

In other parts of the world prone to flooding, catastrophic floods normally expected once a century could occur every 20 years instead.

Meanwhile, spending on technologies and services to discover, manage, filter, disinfect and desalinate water, improve infrastructure and distribution, mitigate flood damage and reduce water consumption by households, industry and agriculture is expected to rise to a trillion dollars annually by 2020.

Some 300 scientists, policy-makers and economists will release these and other research findings as well as proven new tools, ideas and best practices for optimizing water management at a Canadian Water Network international conference in Ottawa.

The event kicks off on February 28 and runs through March 3. Continue reading Scientists to highlight water insecurity

Johannesburg farms at risk from tailings dams

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 08 December 2010

Tailings Dams are holding millions of tonnes of dangerous metals and leading to severe damage to farms in the Johannesburg area.

Gold mines constitute the largest single source of waste and pollution in South Africa

That’s according to Mariette Liefferink, from the Federation for a Sustainable Environment who showed Business Day around the West Rand and outlined some of the major environmental challenges.

Liefferink says acid mine drainage is exacerbating the problem, because it dissolves the heavy metals and precipitated them in water sources and wetlands, where people grow crops and abstract water.

She says the Lancaster dam in Krugersdorp, which is surrounded by tailings dams, is the source of the Wonderfonteinspruit.

The stream is now filled with acid mine water and its wetlands had been classified as the radiological hotspot by the by the Nuclear Regulator.

“Lancaster dam historically was indeed the source of the most pristine water. It was classified by a 1934 German documentary as one of the seven wonders of South Africa. Today as you can see it is filled with acid water. The Lancaster dam is filled with water of a PH of about 2, 6. It is similar to lemon juice. There is absolutely no life,” she added.

“It is as a result of 120 years of mining and obviously very poor management of wastes from the gold mines. The gold mines generate the most cost of the socio-economic impact and also ecological impact. The gold mines generate 47% of the mineral wastes.”

“Waste from gold mines constitutes the largest single source of waste and pollution in South Africa… Acid mine drainage may continue for many years after mines are closed and tailings dams decommissioned,” Liefferink said. Continue reading Johannesburg farms at risk from tailings dams

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 Fragile ecosystems under threat of growing communities