5.1 Key Adaptation Sector - Water

 

Present population growth trends and water use behaviour indicates that South Africa, as a water scarce country, will exceed the limits of its economically usable, land-based water resources by 2050. South Africa has low rainfall and among the lowest rates of run-off in the world. South Africa’s water sector faces two major challenges: limited water resources; and the need to ensure that the benefits of those resources are distributed equitably. The adverse impacts of climate change will worsen the existing problem of systemic water shortages and will bring forward the limits to water resources. Increasingly, South Africa’s water security will depend on the extent to which it is able to refine and re-orientate its institutional arrangements to make the most responsible, equitable and effective use of its water, while strengthening environmental management of the natural resource base. Challenges to this from the likely impacts of climate change include:

  • Increased variability of storm-flow and dry spells - By ~2050 the frequency of storm-flow events and dry spells is projected to increase over much of the country, especially in the east (over much of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, including some of the most crucial source regions of stream-flows in southern Africa such as the Lesotho highlands), but much less so in the west (much of the Western and Northern Cape). Median annual stream-flow is projected to increase in the east and decrease in the west over the same time period.

  • Increased cost - The cost of providing water will rise. It is estimated that just a 10% decline in run-off could double the cost of new water schemes, raising the cost to the fiscus and users of new infrastructure developments. Already the cost of water from South Africa’s new big dams may quadruple and result in even higher prices than users are accustomed to paying. In addition, inter-basin transfer schemes, high levels of assurance of supply to key sectors of the economy and extensive local reticulation networks require extensive pumping, with rising energy costs.

  • Rising temperatures - Climate change will bring higher average temperatures. This is projected to lead to more erratic weather, more flooding and greater rainfall variability. Higher temperatures will increase evaporation from dams and rivers, and will reduce run-off on the ground, so that less of the water that falls reaches our rivers and dams.

To address these impacts of climate change on water resources, South Africa will:

  1. Continue to develop and maintain good water management systems and institutions, from village through to national level, to ensure we achieve our equity objectives, and can sustain affordable provision of water to all.

  2. Accelerate the development and/or capacity of effective and accountable catchment management agencies that will: promote equitable and sustainable use of available water resources at local and regional level; strengthen water resources regulation at local and regional level; monitor developments and emerging stresses, and propose effective ways of addressing them. As groundwater grows in strategic importance as a result of increased surface water evaporation, they will have to manage the recharge of aquifers as an integral part of local water management where this is feasible.

  3. Invest in monitoring capabilities across a range of disciplines in order to spot trends and understand them as well as track the efficacy of adaptive strategies.

  4. Accelerate the finalisation and implementation of cost reflective water and water-use pricing including effluent charges.

  5. Optimise the re-use of wastewater. For example, although most coastal towns discharge their effluent to sea after limited treatment through marine outfalls, cities like Cape Town and Durban are now acknowledging that it is significantly more cost-effective to treat and recycle this water for re-use, rather than building new dams.

  6. Increase investments wastewater treatment capacity to meet stipulated norms and standards for waste discharge – to safeguard public health, river health and ecological services and to minimize environmental disasters and treatment costs.

  7. Increase investments in maintenance and renewals to minimize system losses in infrastructure networks. Maintenance deferred is infinitely more expensive, and the country needs the most efficient networks possible to optimize currently available resources.

  8. Develop and implement an household rainwater harvesting incentive programme.

  9. Implement integrated water resource management including protecting and restoring natural systems, increasing conjunctive use of surface and ground water, and learning through adaptive management experiments. Given South Africa inter-basin and trans-boundary transfer schemes integrated water resource management provides an important governing framework for anticipating and achieving successful adaptation measures across socioeconomic, environmental, and administrative systems. It needs to facilitate effective actions for specific outcomes based on linkages among monitoring, research and management as climate varies and changes. It explicitly addresses information across the nodes of action viz. States, agencies, communities and the private sector.

  10. Explore desalination opportunities, especially those that may be powered by renewable energy resources.

  11. Vigorously enforce compliance with water quality standards to ensure that our water remains fit for use, and that clean water is available for blending to dilute pollutants. Contamination by salts, excessive nutrients, heavy metals and other pollutants must be restricted.

  12. Develop and rollout more effective support mechanisms to ensure that safe drinking water is available to all, with a priority of ensuring that affordable access for all is safeguarded.

  13. Measurably improve the management and maintenance of existing systems and strengthen the foundation of professionalism that already exists.

  14. Invest in maintenance and renewals to minimize system losses in infrastructure networks. Maintenance deferred is infinitely more expensive, and the country needs the most efficient networks possible to optimize currently available resources and protect future ones.

 

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Rainwater harvesting

RAIN WATER HARVESTING STANDARDS.

Dear Madam,

Subsequent to my attending your recent Green paper conference in Durban I respectfully wish to reinforce my call for a national Rainwater standard.

I stress the point as I have attended almost every National and Provincial conference on Water, sustainability and job creation. Rainwater harvesting is oft mentioned but to date real action in the form of using Rainwater for other than growing food appears to be a pipedream.

My colleagues and I feel that the White paper on climate change is the nail needed to fix on the wall the required guidelines preparing for a complimentary water supply on a one to one basis. One litre Harvested today is one litre less needed to keep the country running tomorrow.

Despite the fact that my point raised on a National Rainwater standard being noted at the Durban DEA meeting, reading between the lines using the number of lines referencing Rainwater harvesting within the Green paper and how it mitigates Climate change on a local level, it does appear that Government may not see the reality of saving free water today for tomorrow.

For the sake of argument the household scenario as applied worldwide is used.

It is noted in the paper that Rainwater harvesting shall “... Develop and implement household Rain water harvesting...” (Page 11 para. 5.1.8). Nothing more is mentioned. It appears that the powers that be for whatever reason lacks the understanding for example of the complexity of the regular maintenance of catchments or the some 1800 Bacteria that need to be removed before water can be used in the home. Before Household Rainwater harvesting is implemented on a national scale I propose that a research on a national standard, from Catchment maintenance, to storage, and home purification is undertaken to stop future resource waste and the continuance of below par installations.

The simple truth is that seen from a modern context Rainwater harvesting is no longer Gutter and tank, done by anyone. The international research is as vast as it is wide ranging in this area.

Right now in South Africa because of the lack of legislation and standards a lot of money is going to waste due to the inefficient use of harvested rainwater.

Having experience with various Departments one hears every excuse that can be thought up. Added to this is the side stepping of the water issue reality. The introduction for example of the “ Food for Water Project “ while admirable, harvested water for home consumption is ignored in the belief is that more Dams and Pipelines should be built.

Others in various departments will say that we the water advocators should teach the people. Sorry to say that this is a shift of responsibility. Private industry cannot pass the legislation that is required to protect the people from bad practice.

Other’s ask, what if it does not rain? The answer is simple. Nationally if it does not rain, like Beaufort West, Dams empty. However It has been proven in SE Australia that Rainwater harvesting worked in the five-year drought. It is widely known that Rain does fall in drought though it may not be enough to fill rivers but does fill storages.

From New Zealand to Germany, China to the USA Rainwater harvesting standards is an accepted practice across the world. Why is SA lagging behind?

Even Countries that are not water starved such as the United Kingdom and Canada have Rainwater harvesting standards to ensue that a minimum water quality and quantity is maintained. Germany for example gives a tax rebate if one uses harvested water.

I am sure Madam will agree, that Nationally we suffer now for what was neglected yesterday. As with Electricity in South Africa, just so many government projects can be built at one time.

Surely a Harvesting standard is a national imperative before climate change takes place? It takes two to three years to develop such a plan for national use. The question is, do we legislate preparing now or wait for climate change to bite? Those whom have experienced the Cape water shortage or those on the ground in the now water starved Beaufort West are best positioned to answer the question. Why should crisis mode be the chosen path?

Rainwater harvesting is an instant water source from as little as 1mm rainfall. Beaufort West and parts of the Western Cape had sufficient rainfall to wet the land but none entered the river systems. Had Beaufort West for example harvested the rain as recent as last year, the town may not be in the position it is today.

The same goes for the Eastern Cape or the current problem in Cathcart. If Rainwater harvesting had been introduced correctly when the signs became evident the water shortage may not have led to a crisis.

Like Solar heating is applied nationally to ensure that our Government can deliver on promises so should Rainwater Harvesting save our country. A country with an electric supply problem can survive as there are alternative sources but if all predictions are correct a country without water will collapse.

Finally we have the question of sustainability. In short Rainwater harvesting is in it infancy and therefore has the potential to create at least 50,000 permanent jobs nationally at low cost. Being a sustainable growth industry and working on the premise that once government has an established standard, new skills are open for development.

A vacancy exists for example in the Rural production of Rainwater goods for major Metros and municipalities production. Contractors and installers are need to meet the potential 9 million households ( Dept of statistic ) Seen in this light I am sure that DEA could if the mind is applied see the seriousness and potential. Developing a national standard, training now for the future should be of benefit to all.

If all is to be believed in the Green paper, I am certain that government would not introduce a Carbon tax if the climate change threat was not real, if this is so then water will be crucial to our nations survival.

Kind regards
Hugh Robinson

Telkom: 0314691958
Xen Rainwater Harvesting systems.
3 Quilter place, Woodlands Durban

water

5.1 Key Adaptation Sector – Water
Implement integrated water resource management including protecting and restoring natural systems, increasing conjunctive use of surface and ground water, and learning through adaptive management experiments. Given South Africa inter-basin and trans-boundary transfer schemes integrated water resource management provides an important governing framework for anticipating and achieving successful adaptation measures across socioeconomic, environmental, and administrative systems. It needs to facilitate effective actions for specific outcomes based on linkages among monitoring, research and management as climate varies and changes. It explicitly addresses information across the nodes of action viz. States, agencies, communities and the private sector.

We support the adaptation responses listed above for water but in addition to the above would include:

This restoration and protection of services and resources should occur all along the entire length of the water catchment and include communities in the monitoring and management of the catchments to ensure sustainability. Wetlands should also be included and a focus on conserving ecosystem services such as filtration, clean water and reliable water supply.

Infrastructure

Linked to point 9, when we have floods in 3 places in South Africa but other areas are in a drought,we should be looking to build arterial man-made rivers to fill those in the drier areas.Your figures should show you exactly which areas in South Africa will be most affected by drier conditions;these are the areas that should get the redirected water from the surpluses. God gave us more than enough water to sustain life, we the ones who need to think.