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Cape Town water demand below peak level

THE City of Cape Town has managed to keep water demand below the peak level recorded in 2001, despite a population that has grown by more than 30% since the 2001 census, city authorities said on Sunday.

City officials said that the annual water demand is now growing at 2.3%, rather than the near 4% recorded in the period just prior to 2001.

The Department of Water Affairs has previously warned that the city’s available water will be fully utilised by 2019 due to growth in the population and the economy. South Africa is a water-scarce country where, even when there is an abundance of water, it often cannot be used because of pollution such as acid mine drainage and E. coli contamination from leaking sewage plants. Cape Town has also considered seawater desalination to improve water supply, with a feasibility study conducted last year. Desalination refers to processes that remove salt and other minerals from saline water, making it suitable for human consumption.

Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, said on Sunday that the city has — through careful management, ingenuity and consumer education — managed to stabilise the demand on the Western Cape Water Supply System.

Mr Sonnenberg said successful interventions include:

• Extensive implementation of water pressure management in areas such as Retreat, Goodwood and Crossroads. Pressure management systems constantly regulate the pipeline water pressure which reduces water losses, pipe bursts and internal leaks and prolongs the life of the reticulation system. The major and minor pressure management projects are resulting in current annual savings of approximately 3.37-million cubic metres of water, worth around R31m per year.

• A targeted retrofitting programme — the replacement of pipes and systems. Retrofitting and leak fixing in Samora Machel, Ravensmead and Fisantekraal has resulted in an annual saving per area of between R1.2 and R1.7m. This is over and above ongoing upgrading and maintenance of infrastructure.

Mr Sonnenberg said that there has been a downward trend in the incidences of burst water pipelines as a result of improved maintenance and upgrades to the reticulation network. He said this had helped the city bring down its overall water losses (a combination of losses in pipelines and connections, meter inaccuracies and unauthorised consumption) to 14.5% in 2012/13 — it is less than all other metros in the country which combined maintained an average of 29.7%.

“The city celebrates water month every March, this is to enhance education and awareness on water conservation to all our communities. Cape Town is a water scarce region and it is through working together that we can make further progress possible in reducing the water demand,” Mr Sonnenberg said.

Source: DBLIVE

Over the past few years Aquarista has been actively playing its part in managing water demand. Our efforts have targeted the individual users, that includes schools, industry, and private residence. Through a combination of both rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse the typical household can save as much as 90% on their water bill. The average carwash can reduce it’s water demand by 70%, hotels and guest houses can reduce their water demand by up to 50%.


State views water as ‘commodity’ – SAHRC

Government is not protecting water as a basic human right, the SA Human Rights Commission said on Tuesday.

unenclosed toilets“…water is viewed mainly as an economic good or commodity by government departments and the private sector,” a SAHRC report on water and sanitation in the country, released in Cape Town, said.

“The result is that most of South Africa’s water is used by business, especially agribusiness, mining, and other industries, at a relatively lower cost per kilolitre than poor households.”

In addition, the provision of water and sanitation was not approached on a human rights basis.

“This relates to the principles of transparency and public participation in the delivery of basic services and access to information.”

Government had also failed to budget appropriately for these basic services.

“The report highlights systemic failures in governance and budgeting, particularly in the implementation of and spending on projects,” the executive summary said.

“These failures point to the need for government to evaluate the current models of governance and funding.”

During hearings held on water and sanitation around the country, people had also claimed corruption had played a role in the lack of service delivery.

The areas worst affected by a lack of water and sanitation were poor black households.

“Those areas which lack water and sanitation mirror apartheid spatial geography,” the SAHRC said in its findings.

“Former homelands, townships, and informal settlements are the areas in which communities and schools, who are black and poor, predominantly do not enjoy these rights and many others.”

The lack of sanitation often led to other human rights being transgressed, including the rights to dignity, education, health, safety, and the environment.”

While nationally access to acceptable levels of water stood at 85 percent, in some provinces, like KwaZulu-Natal, 14 percent of people had no access to water at all.

Over 70 percent of South African households had access to acceptable levels of sanitation.

For the Eastern Cape, however, 12.5 percent of people had no access to sanitation.

The commission decided to investigate the state of water and sanitation provision in the country following two probes into the building of unenclosed toilets in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, in Cape Town and in Rammulotsi in the Free State.

Both the City of Cape Town and the Moqhaka municipality were found to have violated the rights of residents to dignity, privacy, and a clean environment. – Sapa

Source: IOL

Harvested Rainwater Harbors Pathogens

South Africa has been financing domestic rainwater harvesting tanks in informal low-income settlements and rural areas in five of that nation’s nine provinces. But pathogens inhabit such harvested rainwater, potentially posing a public health hazard, especially for children and immunocompromised individuals, according to a team from the University of Stellenbosch. The research was published ahead of print in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

International studies had indicated that harvested rainwater frequently harbors pathogens, and that, in light of the financing of harvesting tanks, drove the investigators to study the matter locally, says principal investigator Wesaal Khan.

The sampling was conducted in the Kleinmond Housing Scheme, which was initiated by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Department of Science and Technology. The houses, designed to be sustainable, are approximately 400 square feet, with alternative technologies such as solar panels and the rainwater tanks.

The list of predatory prokaryotes the investigators found includes Legionella (found in 73 percent of samples), Klebsiella (47 percent) Pseudomonas (19 percent of samples), Yersinia (28 percent), Shigella (27 percent), and others. They also found some protozoan parasites, including Giardia (25 percent of samples).

Many of the pathogens are normal fresh water inhabitants, but Salmonella (6 percent of samples) indicates human fecal contamination, while Yersinia are markers of fecal contamination by wild and domestic animals, according to the report.

Residents, many of whom are little-educated and unemployed, typically use the rainwater for washing clothes and house-cleaning, but about one quarter of people polled in the study said they used it for drinking, as well. The finding that coliforms and Escherichia coli counts from rainwater samples—markers of fecal contamination—always significantly exceeded drinking water guidelines, reinforces the World Health Organization’s opinion that rainwater must be pretreated prior to use for drinking, says Khan.

Rainwater harvesting is needed in South Africa’s “informal communities” because residents often depend on communal “standpipe” systems that frequently serve more than 100 people, who may have to walk as far as a third of a mile to get water, says Khan. Approximately 23,000 rainwater tanks have been installed, two-thirds of them in the Eastern Cape and one-third in KwaZulu Natal. Nearly 20 percent of South Africans lack sustainable access to water.

Source: American Society for Microbiology (ASM)


These rainwater harvesting installations do not use the Aquarista rainwater system that filters the water before it enters the tank. Filtering the water before it enters the tank removes leaver and debris that wash off from the roof. Should such leaves and debris enter the tank it can be expected the pathogens breed in the water. See note below.

Aquarista never specifies rainwater as potable for the very reason that there may be unexpected animal (or human – as alluded to above) matter landing on the roofs of homes. We do however have a filtering system that filters the water down to 5 micron and than steralises that water.

Fill in the form on the right to have an expert access your home about a possible rainwater harvesting solution.


“There were no obstacles obstructing the roofs, i.e., trees or electrical power lines, and no first flush diverters were installed to eliminate the first flush of debris from the roof surface into the tanks.”


Parts of SA may see more rainfall, research shows – Limpopo

While most climate change predictions point to water shortages for South Africa, and the landscape becoming increasingly arid, new research out of Wits University shows parts of the country may see more rainfall as tropical storms move south.

There is a myth that there will be an increased number of tropical cyclones as the surface ocean temperatures climb, as a result of climate change. But research by PhD candidate Jennifer Fitchett and supervisor Professor Stefan Grab from the Wits School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Science shows these storms are not becoming more frequent, but they are moving south. Their research was published in the International Journal of Climatology.

“South Africa could be at increased risk of being directly impacted by tropical cyclones within the next 40 years,” the university said.

“Most cyclones hit Madagascar and do not continue to Mozambique … but in the past 66 years, there have been seven storms which have developed south of Madagascar and hit Mozambique head-on.” Four of them occurred in the past 20 years, it said.

“This definitely looks like the start of a trend,” Fitchett said. “This is not what we expected from climate change. We thought tropical cyclones might increase in number, but we never expected them to move.”

This has implications for South Africa, as cyclones that hit southern Mozambique cause heavy rain and flooding in Limpopo. “At current rates [of change] we could see frequent serious damage in South Africa by 2050,” says Fitchett.

However, this cyclone-induced heavy rainfall will be confined to the north-east coast.

Willem Landman, a chief research and meteorologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, explains: “We don’t see tropical cyclones hitting Pretoria. They need an enormous source of moisture … They don’t last long over land, being cut off from their main source of water, the ocean.”

But long-term prediction remains difficult. “The southwest Indian Ocean is one of the most challenging basins for predicting tropical cyclones,” he said, adding that this ocean basin has been understudied in comparison to the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean basins.

He notes, though, that the South African Weather Service has had some success with forecasting the effects of tropical cyclones on “weather time scales”, which span a few days. “But we’re just starting to scratch the surface.”

Landman says: “The problem is that these events happen so infrequently that we are less concerned [with them]. But in the past, [on the very rare occasion that a tropical storm has made landfall in South Africa] we’ve had serious problems.”

Source: Mail & Gaurdian

 Unfortunately the parts of the country that could do with more rainfall, namely the Western and Southern Cape, won’t be receiving more. These areas may still follow the predicted pattern and receive less rain in the years to come.

AfriForum water quality project is ‘misleading’

Johannesburg – AfriForum’s project to test water quality in South Africa is misleading the public, the department of water affairs said on Tuesday.

“Such actions carry the possibility of a legal challenge and an even more dangerous potential to mislead the public about the true nature of water services regulation and performance monitoring”, department spokesperson Mava Scott said.

Earlier in the day, AfriForum spokesperson Julius Kleynhans said the organisation had launched its own blue-and-green-drop project to test water quality in South Africa.

Permission required

The project would test potable and sewage water quality to ensure national standards were upheld.

Mava described the initiative as opportunistic.

He said the type of testing AfriForum was referring to focused only on water quality analysis, which was just a portion of the original blue-and-green-drop audit the department conducted on an annual basis.

He said the department’s audits focused on the entire value chain which included: reticulation, pumping, treatment and discharge of the waste water business with regard to the treated water assessment.

The blue drop, which was drinking water quality, looked at risk management from source to tap.

Mava said such kind of analysis and evaluation was based on annual results and not once-off sampling which did not record any sort of trend in analysis.

He said AfriForum needed permission from the minister to have access to the premises to conduct the tests.

The law did not allow ordinary citizens access to water treatment facilities unless the minister granted permission in writing, Scott said.

AfriForum said the project was part of an initiative to test the quality of potable and treated water in the municipalities across the country.

“If standards are not upheld, we will put pressure on the municipality to step in. If nothing is done, we will take the necessary legal steps to ensure that a solution is found.”

Water samples would be tested and results would be made available on 17 March.

The public was invited to report water-related issues to AfriForum.

Source: News24

Let there be water

brown waterLet there be water… But when all that happens is a hiss, maybe a few splats of brown sludge, many South Africans will know the feeling of “here we go again”.

When that tap has only worked intermittently over the years, it is blood which flows as frustration leads to fear and fear leads to anger. In a nutshell, remember Madibeng in North West, or Bekkersdal in Gauteng, or De Doorns in the Western Province as three of the most recent violent service delivery protests.

For water to flow out the tap even once, many cogs in a huge machine have to run very smoothly and it is at the dam stage life becomes mechanical.

Anything mechanical needs to be maintained. When it is not, people die.

However, Government has A Plan.

“Recent pointed interventions by national government to support municipalities in dealing with the water shortages prove our commitment to end the scourge of water shortage,” said a statement by Department of Water Affairs.

It goes on to say: “These short-term to medium-term interventions include the deployment of technical teams, consisting of engineers, technicians and other artisans to assess systems in the problem areas and attend to these urgently to restore the water supplies.”

Water Affairs spokesperson Themba Khumalo told The Saturday Citizen: “The critical areas we have are water purification plants, recycling of sewage and water reticulation.”

Khumalo said there is a shortage of civil engineers in government in general, but the department is offering bursaries to prospective engineers in matric to study engineering.

This is a good thing, especially when the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) is not as coy as government when it states there are no suitably qualified and experienced civil engineers of any kind in local authorities.

“The lack of infrastructure maintenance is leading to people dying,” said Marie Ashpole of SAICE.

In a 2007 document entitled “Needs and Numbers”, structural engineer Allyson Lawless wrote that local government carried the responsibility for ensuring sustainable and efficient water supply, sanitation, roads, electricity, waste disposal, health facilities, which were only achievable with appropriate engineering skills in place.

“Where there is no potable water or where systems malfunction, people are at risk of contracting waterborne diseases, such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid. Increasingly communities are demonstrating their frustration with insufficient and inefficient delivery of services in many areas.”

In an effort to bolster the numbers of engineers, government decided to import engineers from Cuba, which promptly put SAICEs nose out of joint.

“It is with exasperation that SAICE learnt of Minister Edna Molewa of Water and Environmental Affairs’ signing of an agreement with her Cuban counterpart to pave the way for 34 Cuban engineers to “sort out our water crisis while here for a two-year stint,” the organisation said last year, while stating South Africa had world class professionals.

In its defence, Water Affairs laid the blame of the water failure at the feet of corrupt officials. “Corruption within the Madibeng District Municipality was responsible for the breakdown of the piping system so that friends of certain officials should be awarded tenders of water tinkering,” said Khumalo, adding it cost millions to replace the pumps.

Ashpole said there was light at the end of the civil engineering skills shortage tunnel. “With young blood coming things are starting to pick up but there is such a middle management gap at the moment.”

Going forward, SAICE hopes its programme “Youth in Construction”, which it has been running since 2008, will start to yield results soon.

“The time for talking is over,” said Lawless in her document. “Practical solutions are offered to address the numbers and needs. Leadership needs to review current policies and approaches in local government, which at present are not achieving the desired improvement in living conditions and needs to drive the required changes.”

The strategic plan Water Affairs has for 2013/14 to 2017/18 allows for R660 billion to be spent on infrastructure during the next 10 years.

The question is will we have the people with the know-how to run it?

Source: Citizen

26 Free State towns without water

Twenty-six Free State towns are experiencing serious water shortages, mainly attributed to collapsing infrastructure.

Residents of Winburg, which falls under Masilonyana Municipality, north of Bloemfontein, have been without water since Friday last week. Residents are forced to walk long distances to get water from boreholes. Last year the Human Rights Commission (HRC) found the municipality guilty of violating the community’s access to adequate drinking water.

“There are children in schools and they spend the whole day there. We know that in a week they will suffer from water shortages. There are a lot of problems between our municipality and the community,” one of the community members says.

“We have to give the children two litre bottles of water to take to school. They can’t even use that to flush the toilets. They can only use it to drink,” another resident adds.

Businesses are also feeling the pinch. Store Manager Jan Swanepoel says that it is difficult operate without running water. “We need water in the bakery, butchery and in the deli to make food. So how can we survive without water?”

Masilonyana municipal spokesperson, Zongezile Ntswabule attributes some of the problems to flooding in some plants.

According to the municipality, the pump station is about 40-years-old and is beyond maintenance. The municipality indicates that without a budget allocation the future remains uncertain.

Source: SABC News

Home water saving audit

Generally, 40 to 60% of household water is used for non-essential purposes, such as watering gardens and filling swimming pools. 

To save water, it is best to know how much water you are using, where you are using it, and where you could use it more efficiently.

The Excel spreadsheet shows typical water use patterns in low and middle-to-high income households in Cape Town. You need to fill in how often an activity is undertaken and, in some of the activities, the number of people in your household. The spreadsheet will calculate your water used per activity and total daily consumption.
Get to know where your water meter is located and ensure that it does feed the outlet points on your plumbing system. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!”
The results will help you to decide where to make water-efficiency improvements in your home. 
Simple household water audit.

Simple household water audit.

Ways to save water would include the reuse of greywater for irrigation and rainwater harvesting for indoor and outdoor use.

Extent of SA’s water crisis exposed

An Eyewitness News investigation spanning all nine provinces has revealed the extent of South Africa’s water emergency and the growing pressure on government to deal with it.

Water problemsCanvassing communities across the country has exposed claims of corruption, pollution and fortunes being made by those selling water or taking over the duties of municipalities.

EWN’s investigation also explored historic problems, migration patterns, infrastructure and planning, the role of industry and threats of further protests by frustrated communities.

Over the past 16 years, the number of South Africans who have tap water has almost doubled.

According to the latest census, nine out of 10 people have such access.
But the reality on the ground, from Nkandla to Stellenbosch, paints a very different picture.

The last seven years have seen a dramatic drop in how communities perceive the quality of their water.

Millions of people don’t have access at all while others report queuing for up to ten hours to get a single bucket of water.

Two weeks ago, four people protesting for water were killed in Mothutlung near Brits.

Pregs Govender, Deputy Chairperson at the South African Human Rights Commission, says South Africa has the ability and money to fix these problems and must do so urgently.
“It [government] actually has to respond to the needs of the poorest people in the country. Our Constitution is very clear; dignity is inherent for every single person.”

Municipalities have had to bring in private or semi-private contractors to deal with water problems and these deals are worth millions of rands.

The commission is due to release a landmark report on the water and sanitation situation later this year.


The water crisis in Limpopo has been described as a ticking time bomb, a human rights violation and yet another blatant example of empty promises.

The death of a five-year-old boy who died in a pit toilet last week has increased pressure on government to address water shortages in schools.

But locals aren’t convinced it’s enough to spur officials into action.

A grade nine pupil says she isn’t holding out for any immediate changes.

“We just keep telling government to do something but they never do anything. They do more talking than acting.”
Thousands of schools in rural Limpopo are on the sanitation waiting list but principals say they will only believe in progress when they actually see it.


The Mpumalanga government appointed Theo van Vuuren to take over the role of Emalahleni City Manager as well as the executive functions of the mayor.

He reports decades of neglect left the water treatment system unable to cope with demand.

“The infrastructure wasn’t maintained properly and wasn’t expanded. Most of the infrastructure we are working with now dates back to 1994.”
Van Vuuren says there was no oversight or accountability.

“The municipality stopped functioning in a proper manner. It was a free-for-all. There was a lot of corruption which took place.”

He urged communities to be vigilant and demand better services from their leaders.


People in Protea South, which saw violent protests last year over basic services, say with elections coming up and the water crisis far from resolved, chaos may return to the area.

Twenty four-year-old Sipho Ndlovu says the few piped water taps scattered across the community are evidence of government’s neglect of the people.

Although he says he is voting for change in the upcoming elections, he has lost faith in politicians delivering on their promises.


In townships outside Cape Town similar threats have been made.
Siqalo resident Prince Njokola says he is willing to risk life and limb during a march to the Western Cape legislature set to take place on 11 February.

Organisers of the march warn while they will do their best to ensure the march is peaceful, they can’t exclude the possibility things may spiral out of control.

In October last year, a similar service delivery protest in the Cape Town CBD turned violent when some protesters looted stores.

In Nkandla hundreds of households go without a steady water supply.

While controversy rages around President Jacob Zuma’s “fire pool” and reservoir, people in villages next door say their children often miss school because of the water problems.

An old and often dry reservoir supplies water to three communities in the area.

Women and children carry muddy buckets of water to and from the river.
Mbekeni Sibisi, who has lived in the rural hamlet his entire life, says fetching water is a daily struggle.

He and his wife raise their six grandchildren.

“I am an old man. If there is no source of water there is nothing we can do such as washing the children’s uniform, making it difficult for them to attend school.”

Residents rely almost completely on subsistence farming and watering crops without a steady supply of water is difficult, if not impossible.

Source: EWN

Even if the government can do something about the water crisis in the country, are the individuals in power competent enough to provide the service for the country?

It seems like this fight will need to be fought by both the rich and the poor. The better off may be able to afford rainwater and greywater systems to supply them with their water requirements even in times of water outages. Should this be done, it will allow the government to focus more attention on serving the population that most requires there help.


Kimberley residents urged to save water

Bloemfontein – Kimberley officials on Wednesday urged residents to use water sparingly due to low levels in city reservoirs.

“Due to the extended heat wave we have experienced in Kimberley over the past weeks, water use has soared and water levels at the Newton reservoirs have steadily dropped over the same period of time,” municipal spokesman Sello Matsie said.

He said the city was not experiencing any operational problems at its purification plant or water network.

“The situation is still well in hand.”

The municipality wanted to prevent a further drop in the reservoir levels and wanted its water to be used sparingly. If there was no reduction in water use the municipality might have to resort to night shutdowns by Friday, which it wanted to avoid.

Source: IOL

The most cost effective way to still water gardens even during the heat of summer with out using even more municipal water is to reuse greywater from shower, baths, hand basins and laundry machines. Doing so will exempt you from any water restrictions.