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What to do with all this rain

Intaka Island | Greywater and Rainwater harvesting systems

Rain harvesting and greywater recycling system

The earth has more water than land but not all of it is potable. The limited options often fall short of meeting demands and water shortage is faced by many. Despite this fact many of us fail to realize the importance of this life saving natural resource and tend to waste a good deal of it. It is time we woke up and gave water its due importance. This will be beneficial for every living being and create a better world. On a personal basis each one of us can do our part and take steps like adopting water harvesting methods.

Rainwater harvesting for indoor use is one of the many applications we can put rainwater to. Once you start harvesting rainwater you will get to experience its benefits. For one it is a free source of water. It contains less chemicals than municipal water. Once you start showering or bathing in rainwater your skin is less dry and your hair feels softer.

The water falling from the sky is collected in tanks for future use. Harvesting water brings down your utility bills. It gives you the pleasures of harvesting your very own water taking you a step closer to living a greener life. Being self-dependent is an amazing feeling and rainwater harvesting makes you feel that independence. Your water meter reading may not change for months as you live on your stored rainwater supply.

So many benefits for taking up rainwater harvesting methods are sure to kindle a fire in you. Your purpose could be limited to indoor use or simply for garden irrigation  or for multiple uses but you will surely be contributing towards a better tomorrow. Depending upon place, facility and convenience you can adopt a rainwater harvesting system that best suits you and your requirement.

Water shortage crisis looming in South Africa

South Africa faces a massive water shortage in the near future, but contingency plans are already in place, the SA Local Government Association (Salga) said yesterday.

Water problems“New dams are coming because this is a challenge that we are actually experiencing as a country in its totality,” Salga councillor Pinky Moloi said.
As she made the announcement, news emerged that GIBB, the black-owned consulting engineering firm, had been contracted to supply water to Midvaal and Vaal Marina’s low-cost housing areas.
Mining companies – after decades spent polluting groundwater – are now preparing for an era when they will be supplying processed drinking water to municipalities.
Billiton and Anglo American have been providing eMalahleni with reconditioned minewater since 2005.
“We are aware of the fact that there is going to be a shortage of water in general at some point,” Moloi said. Sapa reports she said it was important to educate people on water conservation.
Moloi was addressing the media on Salga’s annual report on water service delivery at municipalities as part of the Municipal Benchmarking Initiative (MBI).
She said it was inconceivable that with all the technological advances in the world contaminated water still caused deaths.
“Water security remains one of the most tangible social, political, and economic challenges faced by communities across the globe today,” she said.
The MBI is aimed at supporting municipalities in improving the efficiency of service delivery.
Carel Davids, Project Leader at GIBB said, “Both the Mamello and Midvaal bulk water and sewerage infrastructure projects began in 2012 and are currently underway. Environmental approvals are underway for both the Sicelo Bulk Sewage and Sicelo Bulk Water projects and the projects will be completed by 2017.”
The project also included the construction of a sewerage pump station, 110mm rising main, an outfall sewer to the Vaal Marina Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) and refurbishments at the Vaal Marina WWTW.

Source: Citizen

Until municipalities are pushed to the point where they can no longer supply water to the population without loosing profits there is a slim change that they will actively push rainwater harvesting projects to residence. As long as you are still paying your water bill each month the municipality has little incentive to encourage rainwater use.

You could always be on top of your game and invest in rainwater harvesting system today. It could mean that you will be off municipal water supply for 6 to 8 months a year, if not longer, and then only pay a minimal amount over the dryer summer months.

Fill in the contact form on the right to further information and a quote to suit your need.

The end of free water – Free water taps to be turned off

Cash-strapped ratepayers, already battling the high cost of living and enduring the effects of a faltering economy, will soon also be hit with increased water bills if the government has its way.

“For an average household with a monthly water bill of R919, factoring in the cost of the 6kl into the equation – at the lowest tariff category – will add about R150 to the bill.”

Talks are under way to stop providing 6000litres of water a month free to residents deemed able to pay for all the water they consume.

Since 2001 the government has been allocating free basic water to consumers indiscriminately. But this might come to an end if proposals on the table are made law.

For an average household with a monthly water bill of R919, factoring in the cost of the 6kl into the equation – at the lowest tariff category – will add about R150 to the bill.

William Moraka, director of water services at the SA Local Government Association, confirmed yesterday that talks on the issue had begun.

“Yes, there are discussions. Actually, the Minister of Water [and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane] has released 12 policy positions about changing the face of the water sector. One of the suggested policy positions is for municipalities not to provide 6kl of [free basic] water to citizens able to afford to pay for services. But that is still under discussion. Culminating from that process will be legislation that will clearly define how we will provide free basic water going forward,” he said.

The move has incensed social activists. Lee Cahill, formerly of the now defunct Joburg Advocacy Group, rubbished the plan, saying it was “unconstitutional”.

Cahill argued that ratepayers should continue to enjoy the free monthly allocations as their rates and taxes subsidised the scheme.

“My real concern about Salga’s proposal is that the net increase per household would depend on how tariffs are to be structured. The elimination of the free 6kl per month for certain households would not only add to each household’s monthly bill but may push the rest of that household’s consumption into higher tariff brackets,” said Cahill.

“As it is tariffs are difficult for residents to understand and I believe this creates room for abuse.

” If the additional 6kl were to push additional consumption into higher tariff brackets, the increase could be much more.”

It also emerged yesterday that municipalities might be losing millions, even billions, of revenue through the way they charged for water.

Moraka said because of this, Salga would need to look at how its members priced water, signalling another possible tariff increase.

“We’ve done a comprehensive study to determine the cost of providing services and, in some respects, some of our members have not understood the cost of providing these services,” he said.

“First, we need to relook at how we are pricing from a tariff point of view. Second, we need to have a deeper understanding of how the whole transfer system of local government needs to respond to the cost of providing water services in the country moving forward.”

Moraka said the studies indicated that South Africa was currently “undercharging from a cost point of view”.

“[Between] the cost we are incurring to provide the service and what we’re charging, there is actually a deficit,” he said.

Source: Times Live

For those of us not already harvesting rainwater and using it inside our homes for baths, showers, laundry and flushing toilets, etc. this proposed scrapping of 6000 litres free water per household seems devastating. However for those that already do, this change will have little impact. Homes that already harvest rainwater already spend 6 to 8 months a year off municipal supply and over the dryer months they use a minimal amount of municipal water to back up their rainwater supply.

The proposed change will allow municipalities to provide more households in need with basic water and invest in upgrading old and outdated infrastructure.

Fill out the contact form on the right for a quote on a fully installed rainwater harvesting system to suit your need.

Rainwater Harvesting A New Cost For Home Buyers

The harvesting of rainwater, which is to become a standard design feature in real-estate developments, whether a single home or residential complex, will add to the cost of construction projects, developers say.

Those costs appear, in some circumstances, more likely to be borne by home buyers, according to local developers, as well as the top supplier of homes in Jamaica, the National Housing Trust (NHT).

Construction project designs must include the means for harvesting rainwater in order to receive planning approval, under a new push for sustainable use of water.

The directive, which is yet to be approved by Cabinet, has come from the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change (MWLCC), which also says individual builders, too, are required to make provisions to catch and store rainwater “especially where piped water or a public supply is not available”.

The ministry is also encouraging the installation of rainwater catchments – which can be different vessels capable of storing water – in homes and developments already built.

Source: Jamaica Gleaner

In South Africa any rainwater harvesting system will be an additional cost to the home owner. For the average home this is typically R55 000.00 (2014). The return on investment has been calculated to be 5 years.

It is recommended rainwater be stored in tanks and then sent back into the home, to be used for baths, showers, laundry and toilet flushing. This way a house hold can be off municipal supply over the rainy months while only having to supplement their rainwater supply with municipal water over the drier months of the year. It is not unusual for a home to be off municipal supply for 6 to 8 months a year.


Water everywhere but not a drop to drink


Massive amounts of water appear to exist deep beneath the planet’s surface

Washington – If you want to find Earth’s vast reservoirs of water, you may have to look beyond the obvious places like the oceans and polar ice caps.

Scientists said massive amounts of water appear to exist deep beneath the planet’s surface, trapped in a rocky layer of the mantle at depths between 250 miles and 410 miles (410km to 660km).

But do not expect to quench your thirst down there. The water is not liquid – or any other familiar form like ice or vapour. It is locked inside the molecular structure of minerals called ringwoodite and wadsleyite in mantle rock that possesses the remarkable ability to absorb water like a sponge.

“It may equal or perhaps be larger than the amount of water in the oceans,” Northwestern University geophysicist Steve Jacobsen said in a telephone interview. “It alters our thoughts about the composition of the Earth.”

“It’s no longer liquid water that we’re talking about at these great depths. The weight of hundreds of kilometres of rock and very high temperatures above 1 000 degrees Celsius (1 832 Fahrenheit) break down water into its components. And it’s not accessible. It’s not a resource in any way,” Jacobsen added.

Jacobsen said water is taken down into the mantle with minerals during the process known as plate tectonics – the slow, inexorable movement of the colossal rock slabs that make up the Earth’s surface.

When the minerals containing this water reach certain depths, they break down in a process called dehydration and release the water to form magmas. Such “dehydration melting” is common in the shallow mantle and forms the source for magmas in many volcanoes.

In a study published in the journal Science, the researchers present evidence that this is also occurring much deeper in the mantle in a region called the “transition zone” between Earth’s upper and lower mantle.

The study combined lab experiments involving synthetic ringwoodite being exposed to conditions simulating the heat and pressure of the “transition zone” and observations of events in this zone based on seismic data from a network of more than 2 000 seismometers across the United States.

A team led by Jacobsen and University of New Mexico seismologist Brandon Schmandt identified deep pockets of magma, a likely signature of the presence of water at those depths.

“Melting of rock at this depth is remarkable because most melting in the mantle occurs much shallower, in the upper 50 miles (80km),” Schmandt said in a statement. “If there is a substantial amount of H2O in the transition zone, then some melting should take place in areas where there is flow into the lower mantle, and that is consistent with what we found.”

The research built on another study in March showing that a commercially worthless diamond found in Brazil contained ringwoodite that entrapped water amounting to more than one percent of its weight. Ringwoodite has been found in meteorites, but this was the first terrestrial sample because it normally is so deeply buried.

Source: IOL

JHB battles electricity and water shortages

Power shortage causes water outageJOHANNESBURG – After a widespread power outage in Springs this weekend, Ekurhuleni officials say parts of the city are now without water.
Reservoirs in the area are reported to be dry and authorities say they can’t be filled without a steady flow of electricity.

Affected areas include Selection Park, Pollack Park and Wright Park among others.

Technicians have been working since Friday to repair a damaged electrical tower which collapsed after essential metals were stolen from the structure.

Ekurhuleni’s Themba Gadebe says officials hope to have both electricity and water restored in the city by this afternoon.

“We had anticipated that power would be back by midnight, but unfortunately due to the extent of the damage the power is expected to be back today in the afternoon.

“Some areas might get power by 12pm, but we expect full power restoration by the afternoon.”

The repairs are expected to cost an estimated R30 million.

Meanwhile officials say electricity has been fully restored in Lenasia where residents have been in the dark since Thursday.

City Power’s Louis Pieterse says a temporary electrical line has been set up.

“The reconstruction of the line is going to take ten days to two weeks because we have to cast new concrete foundations and that has to set.”

Source: EWN

SA’s water supply: how safe and accessible is it?

Cape Town – Following the tragic death of three infants from contaminated water in Bloemhof, News24 questions the safety of South Africa’s water supply.

In President Zuma’s state of the nation address earlier this year, he said that 95% of South Africans “have access to water”.

Having “access” however, does not mean that everyone has piped water, and it does not mean that the water is safe to drink.

In fact, most people have no idea about the quality of the water they drink, according to the charity WaterAid, because water supplies are “rarely subject to testing”.

What impacts access to clean, safe water?

WaterAid said the best way it has found to measure levels of access to water and sanitation, and its quality, is “by actually asking people where they get their water from, and what type of toilet they use”.

The charity said improved sanitation, such as flush toilets and septic tanks, ensures safer water because of the hygienic separation of human waste from human contact.

Hand-washing and the use of proper toilets prevents the transfer of bacteria, viruses and parasites found in human waste, which could contaminate water supplies.

It is this type of contamination which is a major cause of diarrhoea – the cause of the deaths in Bloemhof and the second biggest killer of children in developing countries.

Contamination can also lead to more serious diseases such as cholera, though this has not been found in Bloemhof, the department of water and sanitation has said.

Who is to blame?

Dr Anthony Turton, water expert and professor at the University of the Free State’s Centre for Environmental Management, said the tragedy at Bloemhof is “not a one off – for the simple fact that this has been coming for a long, long time”.

Dr Turton pointed out that the constitutional changes of 1994 took the delivery of water supplies out of the national government’s hands, placing it under the direction of local municipalities.

Local governments were expected to help each other, yet “the opposite has been true”, said Dr Turton.

In the last 20 years, infrastructure in urban areas has been swamped by new inhabitants, while maintenance has been left to fall behind in rural areas.

Complaints in the run up to the 2011 local government elections prompted the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to launch a nationwide investigation, pulling in baseline assessments for all municipalities from the department of performance monitoring and evaluation (DPME).

Publishing its report Water and Sanitation: Accountability to People Who are Poor earlier this year, the SAHRC said it found that nationally, South Africa seems to “indicate progress”.

However, the regional story was quite different. Based on its assessment of the provision of water services for example, 23 municipalities (9% of the total) were in a crisis state, the report found, with an “acute risk of disease outbreak”.

A further 38% were at high risk, with the “potential to deteriorate into a state of crisis”.

Water supply ‘mirrors apartheid geography’

Latest government statistics show that Zuma was wrong to claim 95% of South Africans have access to water – in fact 90.8% of households had “access to piped water” in 2012 according to the General Household Survey.

But that access ranged from 98.9% in the Western Cape to 79% in the Eastern Cape. Plus, a breakdown of the statistics shows that access isn’t equal for all.

For example, less than half of households gained access through their own dwelling, just 27% have access to piped water “on site”, while 16% use communal taps and 3% use neighbours taps.

Stats SA, who compiled the survey, said: “It is a cause for concern that 2.3% of households still had to resort to sourcing drinking water from rivers, streams and dams.”

The SAHRC’s report meanwhile found that regional shortcomings tended to “mirror apartheid spatial geography”.

The report found that 1.4m households had yet to be provided with sanitation services – including 12.5% of all households in the Eastern Cape. While in KZN, 14% of households have never had access to water.
The areas noted as having “high levels of infrastructure maintenance needs” it said were located within Limpopo, KZN, Free State, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape.

“Who is valued and who is not is reflected in decisions by both the DA and ANC-led municipalities to build unenclosed toilets in open public spaces,” the SAHRC said.

Where is the quality control?
There is no official measure of water quality – the same water supply can feed a number of municipalities and could be treated differently by each one.

Household satisfaction however “has been eroding steadily since 2005” according to Stats SA.
Back then, 76% of households rated the quality of their water services as “good”. That figure dropped to 62% of households in the 2011 Census.

The Census found that people living in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga have “consistently been least satisfied” with the quality of their water.

Almost a third of households in KZN felt their water smelled bad, compared to just 3% of Northern Cape households.

Meanwhile, the Census found that 16% of Eastern Cape households felt their water was unsafe to drink, being unclear and bad-tasting.

The government’s benchmark for international standards, the Blue Drop Certification Programme, is supposed to keep check on the municipal management of water quality in South Africa.

A water system has to score 95% or higher on a combination of points, including water quality compliance and operational services, such as asset management, to get the Blue Drop stamp of approval.

But while some municipalities will not make the grade, many others do not bother to report, Dr Turton explained.

The government therefore insists that a town “without Blue Drop certification does not automatically mean that its water is unsafe for human consumption”.

Out of the 931 water systems within the 153 municipalities audited in 2012, just 98 systems obtained Blue Drop Certification for the 2012 reporting cycle.

According to the SAHRC’s report, a key issue with access to water is the poor quality of infrastructure delivered by local governments.

The Blue Drop Report may help steer you on how well your local government is doing, though Dr Turton argued: “The bottom line is that you only have to look at the roads, the railways to see that across the board, infrastructure is failing.”

Source: News 24

Harvesting rainwater is a safe alternative to using dirty municipal water. Through an innovative and inexpensive water filtration process Aquarista is able to supply households with clean water. Once the system has been installed the typical household can be off the grid for many months a year and have a build in emergency water supply.

SA needs to respect water

Water problemsJohannesburg – It has been said that the next world war will be fought over water. South Africa can attest to that premonition having had to calm a number of protests since the acid mine drainage woes in Carolina, Mpumalanga, and with at least four lives lost in the recent water crisis in Brits.

Being a water scarce country, South Africa is vulnerable to water contamination and it should be maximising the use of its wastewater. Africa’s energy and water leaders joined forces to discuss challenges faced by these two sectors in the annual African Utility Week in Cape Town last week.

South Africa is facing a serious challenge of water losses. The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and the Water Research Commission’s research published last year showed that from leaks alone, water losses in the country amount to approximately R7.2 billion a year.

But another challenge the country faces is that wastewater is not being recycled.

According to Steve Mitchell, the principal consultant at EON Consulting who presented the company’s wastewater risk abatement plans at African Utility Week, a common notion is that it is not possible to treat wastewater to the point where it can be reused.

“But the fact is we actually have to change that. We’ve got to start treating our resources with respect so that the economy won’t be destroyed by poor water quality,” he said on the sidelines of the conference.

Mitchell said recycling 50 percent of wastewater to the point of reusing it effectively, doubled a country or company’s water resources.

EON Consulting has developed a tool called a Wastewater Risk Abatement Plan (WWRAP). The tool is based on the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs’ Green Drop Certification, which is the wastewater services incentive-based regulation.

The regulation seeks to improve the level of wastewater management in South Africa.

The current Green Drop Assessments on the department’s website show that no province has a score of more than 90 percent when it comes to its water treatment plants.

The department’s 2012 assessment report, which analysed 821 municipal water treatment facilities around the country showed that only 40 plants or 4.9 percent were in an excellent condition to purify water. A major 56 percent of the treatment plants assessed were in a critical or very poor state.

Adri Venter, also a principal consultant at EON Consulting, said things could easily go wrong during wastewater treatment and the risk was elevated on poorly maintained and ageing plants.

So this tool, which has been rolled out to five municipalities, was designed to detect the critical areas that could contribute to things going wrong in a water treatment plant.

It was initially developed last year for the Randfontein Municipality, which had problems with its wastewater treatment systems. It covers all steps in the wastewater value chain, from production to discharge or reuse in a particular catchment. Unlike a report, it allows municipalities to see which are the high risk areas in their waterworks, what they need to fix or maintain on their water treatment plants and track their progress in getting the plants to optimal effectiveness.

The tool had been used by municipalities, but Mitchell said it could be used in mining, energy generation and other industries.

It can be tailored to purify water to different levels. South Africa has water quality standards for different purposes and different sectors of the economy. For instance, the standard of drinking water differs from that of water for agricultural use and so does the standard of environmental water from that of industrial processes in order to maintain biodiversity.

“When we look at ‘fit for use’ for wastewater (we have to consider) to what point are we treating it for the receiving environment,” Venter said.

Source: IOL

Water crisis lies on the horizon

Water Restrictions Mpumalanga

Crocodile river running dry

The next time your throat is as dry as a bone and the Sun is beating down, take a glass of clean, cool water.  Savour it. Sip by sip.

Vital and appreciated as that water is, it will be even more precious to those who will follow you.

By the end of this century, billions are likely to gripped by water stress and the stuff of life could be an unseen driver of conflict.

So say hydrologists who forecast that on present trends, freshwater faces a double crunch – from a population explosion, which will drive up demand for food and energy, and the impact of climate change.

“Approximately 80% of the world’s population already suffers serious threats to its water security, as measured by indicators including water availability, water demand and pollution,” the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in a landmark report in March.

“Climate change can alter the availability of water and therefore threaten water security.”

Global demand

Already today, around 768 million people do not have access to a safe, reliable source of water and 2.5 billion do not have decent sanitation. Around a fifth of the world’s aquifers are depleted.

Jump forward in your imagination to mid-century, when the world’s population of about 7.2 billion is expected to swell to around 9.6 billion.

By then, global demand for water is likely to increase by a whopping 55%, according to the UN’s newly published World Water Development Report.

More than 40% of the planet’s population will be living in areas of “severe” water stress, many of them in the broad swathe of land that runs along north Africa, the Middle East and western South Asia.

Yet these scenarios do not take into account changes in rainfall or snowfall or glacier shrinkage caused by global warming.

As a very general rule, wet countries will get wetter and dry countries will get drier, accentuating risk of flood or drought, climate scientists warn.

But whether people will heed their alarm call is a good question.

Verbal sparring

“When seismologists talk about an area at risk from an earthquake, people generally accept what they say and refrain from building their home there,” said French climatologist Herve Le Treut.

“But when it comes to drought or flood, people tend to pay less attention when the warning comes from meteorologists.”

Water squabbles in the hot, arid sub-tropics have a long history. In recent years, the Tigris, Euphrates and Nile have all been the grounds for verbal sparring over who has the right to build dams, withhold or extract “blue gold” to the possible detriment of people downstream.

“There will clearly be less water available in sub-tropical countries, both as surface water and aquifer water, and this will sharpen competition for water resources,” said Blanca Jimenez-Cisneros, who headed the chapter on water for the big IPCC report.

Citing a 2012 assessment by US intelligence agencies, the US State Department says: “Water is not just a human health issue, not just an economic development or environmental issue, but a peace and security issue.”

Rows over water between nations tend to be resolved without bloodshed, often using international fora, said Richard Connor, who headed the UN water report.

However, “you can talk about conflict in which water is the root cause, albeit usually hidden”, he said.

“It can lead to fluctuations in energy and food prices, which can in turn lead to civil unrest. In such cases, the ‘conflict’ may be over energy or food prices, but these are themselves related to water availability and allocation.”

Efficiency options

Failing a slowdown in population growth or a swift solution to global warming, the main answers for addressing the water crunch lie in efficiency.

In some countries of the Middle East, between 15% and 60% of water disappears through leaks or evaporation even before the consumer turns the tap.

Building desalination plants on coasts in dry regions may sound tempting, “but their water can cost up to 30 times more than ordinary water,” said Jimenez-Cisneros.

Efficiency options include smarter irrigation, crops that are less thirsty or drought-resilient, power stations that do not extract vast amounts of water for cooling, and consumer participation, such as flushing toilets with “grey” water, meaning used bath or shower water.

Above all, the message will be: Don’t waste even a single drop.

Source: News 24

What is greywater recycling

If you’re unfamiliar with this type of recycling, the No. 1 question on your mind is likely: What is greywater, anyway?

To put it simply, greywater is water from bathroom sinks, tubs, showers and laundry washing machines. Despite frequent confusion, greywater does not include water from toilets, kitchen sinks and automatic dishwashers (this is called “blackwater”) and has not come into contact with food and human waste, either through kitchen sink food waste disposal or flushing toilets.

Greywater may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair and certain household cleaning products. While Greywater may look “dirty,” it is a safe and even beneficial source of irrigation water, according to the advocacy group Greywater Action (The spellings of “greywater” and “graywater” are often used interchangeably in discussions about this topic).

As potable water supplies become more limited throughout the world, there is a growing interest in innovative approaches to water resources sustainability, and household greywater reuse for residential landscape irrigation is a potential solution that’s slowly picking up steam.

Greywater recycling offers scores of benefits; plants can beneficially utilize the constituents found in greywater as valuable nutrients.

Source: Earth911