Can the perfect water come from the sky?

Drinking water is crucial for your health and essentially keeps you alive but drinking the wrong water could be doing you all types of harm.

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Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality’s beneficiation of bio-solids project wins inaugural Green Economy Change Champions Competition

The City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality has won the inaugural Green Economy Change Champions Competition for its project that adds value to bio-solids produced at waste water treatment facilities. 

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RecyclePaperZA calls on citizens to recycle paper products

According to RecyclePaperZA, the paper recycling association of South Africa, our country recovered 1.1 million tonnes of recyclable paper products in 2020, putting the paper recovery rate at 69.8%.

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Water and Sanitation on KwaZulu-Natal dam levels

17 Jun 2021

Dam levels in KwaZulu-Natal experience a decline as the winter season sets in

A weekly report on the status of dam levels issued by the Department of Water and Sanitation this week shows a decline in water levels in some of KwaZulu-Natal’s dams. The Department said the provincial storage capacity has decreased from last week’s 73.0% to 72.6% this week.

Midmar Dam is down from 99.2% recorded in the previous week to 98.9%. Also on a downward trend is the Nagle Dam at 88.6% from last week’s 88.7%. Albert-Falls Dam is this week at 54.8% down from 55.1%. Meanwhile, Inanda Dam is at 97.4% from 97.9%. 

Similarly experiencing a decline this week is the Hazelmere Dam at 50.3% from 51.2%, Driel Barrage Dam at a steep decline to 88.4% from 99.7%, Woodstock Dam at 95.7% from 97.0% and Spring Grove Dam at 98.2% from 99.6%.

Bivane Dam has declined from 97.9% to 94.1%. Hluhluwe Dam is at 95.8% this week from 95.3% last week. Ntshingwayo (78.5%) and Zaaihoek (78.4%) and Wagendrift (100.3%) Dams have recorded declines as well. Last week the dams stood at 79.1%, 78.6% and 100.6% respectively.

The Department indicated that there were some dams that remain above average amid the decline in others. Such dam includes the Spioenkop and Craigie Burn Dams which are unchanged at last week’s 100.1% and 100.6% respectively.

Mearns Dam has slightly increased from 67.5% recorded in the previous week to 80.7%. Also up and although minimally is the Goedertrouw Dam at 74.5% from 74.4%

Speaking on behalf of the Department, spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the minimal declines in dam levels should not alarm residents. He however called for prudent water use.

“You will note that our data shows a minimal decline in some dam levels, with most recording above-average percentages. However, this does not mean we should be reckless with how we use water,” Ratau said.

He added that the province’s largest water supply system, the Umgeni System, has also taken a dip from 84.9% to 84.4%.

“Using water with the utmost care should be part of everyone’s lifestyle. We should really do our best to change our relationship with this precious resource. Report water leaks and infrastructure vandalism, this we cannot overemphasize,” he concluded.


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Water and Sanitation urges residents to save water as dam levels decline due to the dry winter season

10 Jun 2021

Water consumers urged to intensify water conservation as dams rapidly decline due to dry winter season 

The Department of Water and Sanitation Spokesperson, Mr Sputnik Ratau has pleaded with the public to be circumspect in the manner they consume water to ensure the country has enough water stored until the summer rains soak the country.

He issued this plea after the Department issued its weekly state of the reservoir early this week, showing a rapid decline in most dams across the country, something he attributed to the dry winter season. Ratau indicated that, with the exception of the Western Cape, most parts of the country experience satisfactory rains in summer, however, South Africa remains a dry country when compared to the rest of the world.

“The amount of water stored in our reservoirs across the country has taken a knock this week, declining to 83.8% level from last week’s 84.1%. This is however a good improvement compared to last year’s 70% but there isn’t much of a difference, we need to intensify our efforts to save every little drop. This implied that we have 26 908.3 cubic metres available for us out of a capacity of 32 116.4 cubic metres”, he pointed out.

North West province has seen a slight decrease in the level of dams, dropping to 81.4% this week compared to last week’s 82.0%. The province’s dam levels were at 70.6% last year at this time.  The province’s biggest dams are at satisfying water levels. Klipvoor has remained unchanged at its full capacity of 100.7% this week. Bospoort is at 100.7% capacity this week, and Buffelspoort is sitting at 100.1%.

Mpumalanga dam levels have slightly decreased to 85.7% this week, compared to last week’s 86.0%. Longmere Dam has declined by 98.7% this week from last week’s 100%. Westoe Dam in the Usutu river has also decreased sharply from last week’s 80.2% to 78.6% this week. However, the province’s Nooigedacht and Vygeboom dams are at their highest levels at 95.6% and 100.6% respectively. Kwena Dam has remained unchanged at its full capacity with 100.1%.   

Water levels in Limpopo also declined, recording 86.4% this week compared to last week’s 86.6%. Flag Boshielo Dam has dropped from last week’s 93.3% to 92.2% this week. In Mopani Region, a critically low Middel-Letaba Dam continue to drop to 10.0% compared to last week’s 10.2%. Tzaneen dam is however at its full capacity with 100.5%. The biggest dam in Limpopo, De Hoop is steadily full with 99.0% 

Drought effects continue to affect most parts of the Eastern Cape with Nelson Mandela Bay being of the most affected areas, facing acute water challenges. Even though the provincial water storage is above 50% at 59.9%, a slight increase from 52.7% last week, the Algoa Water Supply System with five dams supplying the Nelson Mandela Bay is at a paltry 11.8% this week.

The Department is also making interventions by supplying water with water tankers in areas that are experiencing water supply challenges across the province. These measures will allow communities to have access to freshwater.

In Gauteng, dam levels have remained steady at 99.1%.

Free State Province dam levels have dropped from last week’s 97.2% to 96.8% this week. Fika Patso Dam, which supplies the residents of Phuthaditjhaba in QwaQwa, has dropped from last week’s 91.7% to 91.0% this week. This is however a great improvement from last year’s 44.6% at this time. Free State’s biggest dam, Gariep, has also dropped from last week’s 94.2% to 93.7% this week. 

Northern Cape dams are the only province that has seen an improvement in its dam levels this week with 93.1% compared to 88.7% last week. The province’s Vaalharts and Douglas Storage Weirs are at 93.3% and 110.5% levels respectively. The critically low Karee Dam has also seen a slight improvement with 15.0% this week compared to last week’s 14.9%.


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Water and Sanitation on Integrated Vaal River System

9 Jun 2021

Integrated Vaal River System continues to take a knock as dry winter persists

The dams within the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS), with the exception of four dams have fallen this week while one remains unchanged for the second consecutive week.

The system (IVRS) consists of 14 dams that overlap Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State and the Northern Cape provinces

Continuing to drop weekly, the IVRS has decreased further this week. It dropped from the level of 89.9% last week to 89.5% this week. In the previous year during the same week, the system was at 66.3%. This indicates that it had recovered over the months, placing it in a healthy status.

Some of the dams within the system which have recorded a decline include the Vaal and the Grootdraai dams.

On its part, the Vaal Dam saw a drop from 98.7% last week to 98.0% this week. The present level of the is a leap up compared with the 48.2% it was during the same week last year. Before the current decrease in the level of the dam, it had soared quite considerably to breach the 100% mark.

The level of the Grootdraai Dam has similarly fallen this week. It dipped from last week’s 90.8% to 89.9%. In the preceding year at the same time, it was still firmer at 86.2% but lesser compared to the present level.

In the Free State, the Bloemhof Dam also recorded a decline. The dam is currently hovering at 106.4%, down from last week’s 107.6%. At the same time last year, the dam was at 100.1%.

In contrast to the Bloemhof Dam, the Sterkfontein Dam has seen an upsurge this week. The dam increased slightly from 98.7% this week to 98.9%. The dam presently looks certain to hit 100%, if its present level is anything to go by.

Both the Lesotho’s Katse and the Mohale dams continue to drop each week.

The former dam has declined to 74.5% this week. This is down from the level of 75.2% at which it hovered last week. At the same time last year, it was further down at below the 50% mark at 36.0%

As for the former dam, it sunk to 36.5% from last week’s 37.0%. The current level is however a jump from the 12.2% of last year at the same time.     

According to the Department of Water and Sanitation’s weekly state of reservoir, the other dams within the system are as follows:

  • Woodstock –  97.0%
  • Zaaihoek – 98.6%
  • Jericho – 81.4%
  • Westoe – 78.6%
  • Morgenstond –  85.4%
  • Heyshope – 86.5%
  • Nooitgedacht – 95.6%
  • Vygeboom – 100.6%

In a bid to conserve water, the Department appeals to water users to install a dual flush toilet or alternatively to avoid pressing the lever completely when flushing urine. It is recommended that consumers with large tanks to install a cistern displacement device in the toilet to reduce the amount of water used per flush.


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IFAT Africa 2021 cancelled

IFAT Africa, the continent’s leading trade fair for water, sewage, refuse and recycling, has been cancelled.

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Investors to tackle climate change by tapping into smart opportunities

By Michael Bolliger, UBS Global Wealth Management, Chief Investment Officer Emerging Markets

Over the past few decades, human creativity and innovation have continually improved global living standards. But these standards and the overall level of consumption cannot be sustained by our planet’s finite resources. Rising emissions and growing populations have led to what we’ve come to know as the ‘environmental credit crunch’. Combatting it will require a coordinated and collaborative effort across regions, governments, corporations, and investors.

If we consider that, according to various studies, global household wealth today has reached USD 230–400 trillion, then mobilising even just 1% of it every year would help bridge the estimated USD 2.5 trillion of annual investments required to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). So, we ask ourselves how can private individuals use their investment capital to capture growing opportunities by investing in the future of our planet, and what opportunities exist that have the potential to yield both financial as well as social and environmental benefits?

In a recent report titled The Future of Earth, our Chief Investment Office identified four distinct themes to approach this topic.

First, investors may want to consider how investments influence people, health, and communities. Climate change impacts human health and the sustainability of communities, particularly low-income populations in developing countries. Investors can support the reduction of the human toll of climate change e.g. by looking at companies that effectively address their employees’ working conditions and their exposure to physical climate risks.  They could also find opportunities in companies that develop treatments for illnesses linked to climate change, including drugs and medical devices; as well as those developing urban planning solutions and smart cities technologies.

Secondly, the market share for renewables is expected to increase rapidly at the expense of the current two biggest sources of energy, coal and oil. The European Environment Agency reports that approximately two-thirds of climate-changing global greenhouse gas emissions are linked to burning fossil fuels for heating, electricity, transport, and industry. However, due to its widespread use and particularly in light of strong growth projections for electricity demand for the coming decades, fossil fuels will likely retain a major role globally. This is why we see opportunities with those companies that directly address the transition to a low-carbon economy and show flexibility in adapting and responding to a regulatory environment that increasingly factors in consumers’ sustainability preferences.

The third theme looks at how unsustainable land use is not only the second-largest source of emissions globally, according to the OECD, but also carries high environmental costs. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) estimates that since the pre-industrial period (1850-1900) the mean land surface air temperature has risen considerably more than the global mean surface (land and ocean) temperature. Partially, this is due to 21–37% of total emissions being attributable to the current inefficiencies within the global food system. To reduce environmental impact and systemic risks, there needs to be a rethink on the global supply chains of food and clothing. There are smart agriculture technologies emerging in fields such as land use monitoring and supply chain validation; and sustainable production and consumption practices and solutions.

Finally, South African investors should already be well aware that water scarcity is a climate change threat of particular relevance to this country, as well as globally. Between 1900 to 2010, global water withdrawal increased 7.3 times, whereas the world population grew 4.4 times. The UN estimates that 2.2 billion people lack safely managed drinking water, and nearly 700 million could be displaced by 2030 due to water scarcity.

This impacted every major region of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa, a region likely to be most affected by climate change, especially water shortages. The 2017/18 water shortage in Cape Town serves as an international cautionary tale. The consequences of inadequate alternative water supply and over-reliance on natural rainfall in well-known drought regions fell upon Capetonians. ‘Day zero’ was barely avoided even though the resilient population successfully reduced their daily water use to 50 litres per person per day. Before the drought, Cape Town’s population used about 200 litres per person per day.

A sustainable investment portfolio would want to include companies that effectively manage their water consumption in both operations and supply chain, and which are focused on those new technologies related to smart water networks, water automation systems and meters, as well as water testing and desalination equipment.

Despite the daunting challenges we face, there are reasons to be optimistic for the future. We have the human ingenuity to shape a more sustainable path that will allow mankind to continue to evolve our quality of life while preserving our planet for the succeeding generations. By directing capital toward solutions and considering environmental factors in their strategies, investors can play a key role in the race to net-zero emissions. The ‘Future of Earth’ rests with us.

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Wheels in motion to implement bulk water projects in KZN

27 May 2021

The Department of Water and Sanitation in KwaZulu-Natal has set wheels in motion to implement bulk water projects in different parts of the province. This comes after Minister Lindiwe Sisulu tabled a budget of R16.9 billion for the 2021/22 financial year on Tuesday, 25 May 2021.

She also announced that the Department has prioritised a number of unfinished projects across the country and aimed at utilising the bulk amount of the budget to push for their completion. “Chairperson, I need to indicate that for the coming financial year, we have prioritised the following water infrastructure projects, including the Raising of Hazelmere Dam wall in KwaZulu-Natal,” said Minister Sisulu.

The implementation of such projects come amid the minimal decline of dam levels in KZN from last week’s 73.8% to 73.6%. During a similar period in 2020, the provincial storage capacity stood at 63.4%.

“The plan is to speedily and effectively implement bulk water projects so as to ensure water security to affected communities,” said the Department’s spokesperson Sputnik Ratau.

He also maintained that the Department has identified severely affected districts such as the Ugu District which continues to experience inconsistent water challenges.

“You would have heard Minister Sisulu during the tabling of the Budget Vote earlier this week, she did acknowledge that water challenges in Ugu are uncalled for and should be resolved. It is for this reason that we are working around the clock to speedily implement water projects as dam levels are expected to decline in the coming weeks,” Ratau said.

Meanwhile, the Umgeni Water Supply System this week stands at 85.5% from 85.9% last week.

Midmar Dam is at 99.0% from 100.1%. Nagle Dam is down from 90.4% to 89.3%. Albert-Falls Dam is at 56.0 from 55.5%. Inanda Dam is at 98.7% from 99.3%.

Here’s a look at this week’s dam level status in some KwaZulu-Natal dams:

DamStatus last week              Status this week
Klipfontein99.3 %99.0 %
Woodstock100.0%98.9 %
Spioenkop100.1%100.0 %
Hluhluwe98.2 %97.3 %
Wagendrift100.4 %100.0 %
Bivane100.0 %99.2 %
Ntshingwayo80.6 %80.2 %
Pongolapoort58.7 %58.7%
Driel Barrage100.7 %89.3 %
Mearns90.7 %72.6 %
Goedertrouw75.0 %74.7 %


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Aquasky MD, Brendan Williamson, talks about the birth of the atmospheric water brand and the changing face of the company

The Aquasky story begins in 2017, when the Western Cape government started raising alarm bells about Cape Town’s low dam water levels.

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