There is an increasing need for businesses to reduce and secure their energy requirements, improve water efficiency and reduce and beneficiate their waste streams generated as a result of the current crises in energy, water and landfill airspace.
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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:
|Dam||Status last week||Status this week|
|Klipfontein||99.3 %||99.0 %|
|Hluhluwe||98.2 %||97.3 %|
|Wagendrift||100.4 %||100.0 %|
|Bivane||100.0 %||99.2 %|
|Ntshingwayo||80.6 %||80.2 %|
|Driel Barrage||100.7 %||89.3 %|
|Mearns||90.7 %||72.6 %|
|Goedertrouw||75.0 %||74.7 %|
Courtesy: www.gov.zaView more
Water and Sanitation calls for wise water use
20 May 2021
KwaZulu-Natal dams takes a dip, DWS reiterates call for prudent water use
The Department of Water and Sanitation in KwaZulu-Natal has reiterated its plea to consumers to use water sparingly as dam levels in the province experienced a minimal decline this week. The provincial storage capacity has declined from 74.0% to 73.8%. Comparative to a similar period last year, dam levels stood at 63.6%.
However, the Department said the decline was not a cause for concern as the province’s main water supply system, the Umgeni Water Supply System was considerably steady at 85.9% from last week’s 86.1%.
Meanwhile, some dams within the System have similarly remained above average this week as compared to the previous week and last year. Midmar Dam is at 100.1% from 100.4%. Nagle Dam is slightly down from 90.7% to 90.4%. Albert-Falls has remained unchanged at last week’s 56.0%. Inanda and Spring Grove Dams have recorded 99.3% and 100.5% respectively.
The Department said it continues to work around the clock to implement long-term measures to ensure water security for all.
“We are committed to carry out our mandate of ensuring water provision for all households in the country. This is as we prepare to hear priority areas which will be tabled by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu next week Tuesday, 25 May 2021, as she will deliver the 2021/22 Budget Vote for the Department in Parliament,” said Spokesperson Sputnik Ratau.
“We can confirm that the Budget will consist of long-term projects which will need to be implemented in the province and some which will bring immediate relief to communities, especially those experiencing the dire effects of drought” he said.
Ratau said while the Department was geared up to continue with implementation of projects in different parts of the province, it called on water users to play an active role by using water sparingly and reporting water leaks and infrastructure vandalism to their local authorities.
Here’s a look at this week’s dam level status in some KwaZulu-Natal dams:
|Dam||Status last week||Status this week|
courtesy: www.gov.zaView more
Water and Sanitation: Integrated Vaal River System dams project
19 May 2021
IVRS dams project a mixed picture as they drop while others are stagnant this week
A major part of the dams within the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS) has this week seen a decrease in levels while others have remained unchanged for the second subsequent week, with just one recording an increase.
According to the Department of Water and Sanitation’s weekly reservoir report, nine of the dams within the system dropped and four others remained unchanged from last week.
Inevitably, the mixed picture in the levels of the system spilt over to the overall level of system as shown in its decline this week. Last week, the system, which is still in a top notch position, was at 91.3%. This week the system is hovering at 91.0%. The level of the system this week represents a substantial improvement from 67.4% over the same week in the preceding year.
The system is the backbone of the economy of Gauteng as the economic hub not only of South African but the entire African continent. Leading industries that breathe life to the country’s economy such as Sasol and Eskom are supplied with water from the system.
A significant dam within the system, the Vaal Dam has declined this week. It lowered from 101.4% last week to slightly above the 100% at 100.7% this week. During the same time last year, the dam had slightly passed the 50% to stand at 50.5%.
Another dam to flow at lesser level this week is the Grootdraai Dam. It fell from last week’s 94.9% to 93.5% presently. The dam stood at 89.2% at this time last year.
The Lesotho’s Katse and Mohale dams have equally dropped this week.
The former dam has seen a decrease to 76.5% from 77.1% last week. The dam bounced back from a dire state of 37.7%, which it recorded twelve months ago during the same week.
Meanwhile, the latter dam continues to lurch from a calamitous situation to an even lower level this week. It dipped further from 38.7% last week to 38.2% this week. Last year at the same time, it made for a dismal spectacle at 14.5%.
On the contrary, the Bloemhof Dam has surged this week. It went up from 107.6% last week to 108.0% this week. During the preceding year at the same time, the dam was down at 99.2% but in a remarkably strong position.
The Sterkfontein Dam remains at 98.7% for the second subsequent week. In the previous year during the same week, the dam was lesser but steady at 93.5%. Three other dams that are unchanged from last week’s levels are Woodstock Dam at 100.0%, Zaaihoek Dam 80.0% as well as the Vygeboom 100.3%
The other dams within the system stand as follows:
- Jericho – 83.5%
- Morgenstond – 85.7%
- Westoe – 84.2%
- Heyshope – 86.8%
- Nooitgedacht – 96.4%
The Department continues to plead with both businesses and households to use water with care. In this regard, it appeals that toilets should not be flushed unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. This could assist to save many litres of water as toilets do not require flushing after every use of the facility.
In the same vein, the Department wishes to reiterate that when washing cars water users must refrain from using hosepipes but rather use buckets. This is especially the case for businesses such as car washes.
Courtesy: www.gov.zaView more
SA could cut planned infrastructure budget by addressing billions of litres of wasted water
Water waste, leaks, and the use of drinking water for manufacturing is resulting in billions of litres of potable water going to waste, which – if addressed – could reduce the water infrastructure spend that is necessary.Continue reading View more
Water stress can put business models in jeopardy
South Africa’s recent droughts are teaching businesses a life-changing lesson: we can no longer simply assume that clean water will always be available to keep operations running smoothly.
According to Gert Nel, partner and principal hydrogeologist at SRK Consulting, responsible water management is becoming a cornerstone of any sustainable business model – with investors starting to look more critically at how water risks are mitigated. “When putting together a business model for a multi-million rand business development, a key factor will now be the reliability of water supply,” said Nel. “Can you trust the local and regional water services provider to always offer a sustainable water source, and what are the broader environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues you will face with securing your own supply?”
He highlighted that the signing of a contract with a public service provider does not necessarily guarantee water supply if all available the traditional sources simply run out. “Indeed, the experiences of severe drought in cities like Cape Town and Port Elizabeth show that the communities’ basic right to water will take precedence, and businesses will be left to develop their own solutions in a crisis,” he said.
In this context, groundwater remains the most readily accessible resource to businesses – as long as it is used and managed in strict accordance with ESG best practice. This means early-stage scientific investigations into the viability of boreholes, as well as careful adherence to the regulatory framework.
“While desalination has been considered in coastal locations, it is a relatively costly option and takes years to implement,” he said. “Drilling boreholes is generally the only practical option, but businesses might be located on a very poor aquifer which could be low-yielding or have an unacceptable water quality.”
To ensure the integrity of the business model, developers generally require the involvement of a professional groundwater specialist to investigate and highlight the groundwater development potential of the town, city or area in which the operation will be established. These studies will also include a consideration of the number of existing groundwater users in the immediate area, and their respective water uses.
“The question that needs to be answered is whether there is enough groundwater for your business, in addition to the other private and public users in the area.”Gert Nel, partner and principal hydrogeologist at SRK Consulting
“A hydrogeologist can compile a numerical groundwater model that delivers scientific predictions on the future availability of groundwater in the area you’re investing in – taking into account both existing use and the likely increased demand in the future. This is standard practice in the mining sector, for example, and all sectors can learn from this.”
Legal compliance is of course a key aspect of ESG, and this requires early planning to accommodate the potentially lengthy permitting period. Boreholes require a water use license (WUL), which can take up to two years to approve. Having the necessary license in place gives a business the ability to start drilling and preparing the necessary infrastructure for self-supply of water in case of a drought.
“This creates the vital back-up water supply to mitigate the operation’s risk in situations when the usual water supplier is unable to deliver,” he said. “It does need the investment in studies and permitting well in advance, though, as it will be too late to respond once ‘Day Zero’ is in sight.”
He reiterated the importance of considering ESG impacts related to the drilling of boreholes, and the crucial need to follow due process.
“If you drill boreholes to provide a supplementary or sole supply to your business, and you don’t follow scientific, environmental and social due processes, you could face public resistance,” he warned. “Surrounding borehole users could well accuse you of depleting their groundwater, or even causing the failure of their businesses due to their only water supply source drying up.”
While it might be possible to address these claims through detailed hydrogeological investigations, it cannot always be assumed that the scientific answer will be accepted by all stakeholders. Careful processes of communication and consultation – and perhaps even collaboration over the use of available groundwater – will help to manage the risk of reputational damage or worse.
“Irrespective of the specific environmental and social context of the business, it is wise to engage experienced scientists and engineers in preparing a water solution for a sustainable business plan,” he said. “The regulatory, social and physical landscape is complex, and there are a number of pitfalls that a responsible business would do well to avoid.”View more
Beyond infrastructure plans – SA needs action, regulation to overcome water and waste crises
Major long-term infrastructure plans are necessary, but South Africa also needs to take immediate action to overcome current water and waste management problems and looming crises.
Stakeholders across the water, wastewater and waste management sectors report growing frustration at the lack of progress in averting crises, despite years of discussion and planning. Pointing to critical failures in water and wastewater service delivery and a looming crisis in landfills and waste management in much of the country, experts say South Africa appears to lack the will to take real action.
The experts emphasize that sustainable action plans must be implemented as a matter of urgency, with the government committing to enabling these plans, and independent regulators assigned to enforce their implementation. By moving now to address water and waste management problems, South Africa has an opportunity to delay or even avoid crises, and also to spark much-needed job creation in many sectors.
Urgent action needed on Water Master Plan
The National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, designed to guide the water sector with investment planning for the development of water resources and the delivery of water and sanitation services, does address key issues, but falls short in some respects – notably that it is built on outdated data, that the situation has changed since it was drafted, and that little or no progress has been made in implementing it, stakeholders say.
They urged the government not to delay further, and instead of attempting a massive and costly effort to address all challenges at once, to immediately start rolling out ‘quick win’ initiatives. Independent regulators to oversee the environments would be key to overcoming the current challenges, they noted.
“A plan without action is nothing really. If the goals of the water plan were achieved, we would see employment, empowerment, an improvement in the quality of water as a natural resource. But you need the political will and intent to start the process, and the funding will follow.”Wayne Taljaard, Managing Director at WEC Projects.
Progress in the water and waste sectors are foundational to driving investment, economic progress and job creation, say stakeholders. Benoît Le Roy, Environmental, Technology & Project Alchemist, says: “Water is a fundamental economic enabler, so to attract investment you need to address the water challenges. A real problem is that all of our infrastructure is ageing, and by a decade ago our water reserve was 98% allocated. Investors know this and without water security, they won’t invest.”
“Government at the national level understands the realities, but addressing all the challenges is a massive task and we need to see all stakeholders working together, as well as the introduction of an independent regulator.”
New approach to PPPs needed
To help fast-track progress, traditional Public-Private Partnerships models should be re-programmed to create more collaborative and viable partnerships, they say. These new models could include outsourcing maintenance contracts, enabling private sector stakeholders to implement, own and manage key technologies, and bringing in independent water and waste providers as subcontractors to state entities.
The private sector approach in moving quickly, and applying new technologies and industry best practice can address problems quickly and efficiently, say the experts. In contrast, traditional government consultation and procurement processes tend to slow progress down to a virtual standstill. Frustratingly, they say, government departments seem reluctant to accept offers of assistance from the private sector – even when it is offered for free.
Says Dean Mulqueeny, Group Executive – AECI Water: “We have made offers to some municipalities to give them certain pieces of technology without any cost to them, which was unfortunately declined. During the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, we went directly to schools and a clinic at Hammanskraal to offer our assistance and fortunately the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality agreed. We invested around R3-million and got clean running water to 5 000 people within two months.”
Delays to drive skills out of SA
“There really is a lot of work in the pipeline in future – the Master Plan states R900bn which is R90bn per annum, that is more work than the water-related industry in South Africa could handle over the next ten years.”
Taljaard notes that if water and waste projects do not start soon, South Africa also risks losing key skills. “But we need to do something before all of these businesses shut their doors. The economy is in crisis, cash reserves are running low, there is no envisaged new work in the short- to medium-term, and people are downsizing their businesses or closing down. What happens next is the experienced people and the up-and-coming expertise goes abroad, so when the situation does turn in a few years’ time, we will have a major skills crises and we will have to import skills.”
Private sector approach needed to address waste management
Waste management consultant Kobus Otto says metros in parts of the country are facing a health and environmental crisis, as they are running out of landfill space and no progress has been made in developing new landfill sites.
“We have beautiful plans and pieces of legislation in South Africa, but little in the way of implementation and enforcement. Unless legislation and policies are enforced, they aren’t worth the paper they are written on,” he says.
Instead of current approaches that involve lengthy planning without sufficient research, the public sector should model its efforts on the private sector approach, which seeks to identify sustainable quick wins that are appropriate for the market or community they are deployed in. “For example, it would be far more cost-effective to make well managed landfill and public dumping facilities available within easy reach of communities, instead of continually having to clear illegal dumping – which is a huge expenditure annually,” he says.
Otto believes private sector approaches can go a long way toward solving the problem:
“We need to use Africa’s brainpower appropriately. We need to formalise informal systems and create markets and opportunities, which could create many new jobs and businesses.”
No room for further delays
Mulqueeny says: “The longer we wait to address the issue, the harder it is to fix. We need to start somewhere and work more closely together to make improvements. There are systems and technologies that could make significant improvements very quickly, and the private sector has the expertise and will to help the government deploy them.”
Suzette Scheepers, CEO of IFAT Africa presenters Messe Muenchen South Africa, says: “Collaboration and communication is the only way to address these challenges in a sustainable way. IFAT Africa is a platform designed to bring together key stakeholders across public and private sectors to do exactly that.”
IFAT Africa, the continent’s leading trade fair and forum for water, sewage, refuse and recycling industries, will bring together public and private sector stakeholders from across Africa to discuss challenges and solutions for the water and waste sectors.
For more information, go to https://ifat-africa.com/View more