An article from the Financial Mail.
“SA will reach the maximum consumption its water resources can sustain within about five years”
South Africa is running out of water at an alarming pace, warns Engineering Council of SA vice-president Thoko Majozi.
“SA will reach the maximum consumption its water resources can sustain within about five years,” he stresses.
His warning is backed by a study reported in the SA Journal of Science this year which found that 98% of surface water is already allocated for use.
There are simple, inexpensive solutions that have been used worldwide for decades, says Majozi.
For households, one is reuse of water from basins, washing machines, baths and showers. Termed grey water, it constitutes up to 70% of household water usage, which in turn represents about 30% of SA’s water usage.
Uses of grey water include garden irrigation and that big water-waster, the toilet. Recycling grey water presents “a major business opportunity”, says Majozi.
It’s a business opportunity Cape Town- based Water Rhapsody (WR) seized 15 years ago and has developed into a national franchise. While the main use of grey water is for garden irrigation, it is also being adopted for toilets and commercial uses such car washing, says WR manager Andrew Malherbe. He adds that recycling grey water is mandatory in parts of Australia.
On a grander scale, a recycling plant commissioned by eThekwini (Durban) municipality in 2001 shows what can be done. The only one of its kind in SA, the plant supplies 40m litres of water daily to industry, says the city’s head of water and sanitation, Neil Macleod.
Even more ambitious, Namibia’s capital Windhoek has since 1968 recycled sew age water for household use. Macleod says the system blends recycled water and fresh water and is a solution that his department is considering for Durban. It is far cheaper than desalination, he adds.
While the thought of drinking recycled sewage may not be palatable, Macleod points out that many SA rivers are already “flowing sewers” and where water treatment plants are working effectively the water is 100% safe to drink.
Whatever solutions are found, Majozi’s message is clear: “If we don’t act now it will be too late.”