The crisis has hit. Are we prepared? Water restrictions have been imposed in Gauteng due to a lack of water supply to the reservoirs. For the water treatment works and pump stations to operate they need electricity. There are reservoirs that hold enough water to last through short interruptions in the electricity supply but they themselves rely on the continuous flow of water to stay full.
The recent, frequent and prolonged blackouts have affected the continuous pumping of water into the reservoirs. There is a decline in reservoir storage from 52% to 38%. Public hospitals and homes in residential areas are currently being severely affected by this water shortage.
This is currently a serious problem but it is a taste of what is to come. According to experts in the water sector, it has been known for two decades that South Africa would face a water supply crisis in the future.
In 2002 it was predicted that by 2025 63 billion cubic metres of water would be needed to service the demand of the South African people despite only 38 billion cubic metres of water being available in dams.
At a public engagement on the 26th of October about the Gauteng water crisis Professor Anthony Turton (a specialist in water resource management at the University of the Free State) said “SA is ‘staring down the barrel’ of a water security crisis predicted decades ago”.
South Africans are consuming far too much water. Their consumption of water has increased to 300 litres per person per day – well above the world average of 173 litres per day!
“The supply of water is not a given and our approach towards it needs to change,” says Mannie Ramos Jnr, COO of Abeco Tanks. “It is vitally important that every individual understands the enormity of the water supply shortage and puts a plan in place for water continuity. The biggest problem with not putting a plan in place is when a crisis hits it is often too late. There is then often limited water availability or no water at all putting a tremendous strain on existing water supplies as everyone rushes to buy and fill water storage tanks.”
Water continuity is critical for economic success in South Africa. It is needed for success in business, mining, agriculture and industry. Without a continuous and steady supply, the impact on all four pillars of the economy will be disastrous.
Since 1983 Abeco Tanks has been predicting this crisis. They, unlike many of us, understood the need to plan and decided to develop a water storage solution that would benefit everyone. Over the last 39 years, they have been warning businesses and communities to plan ahead for a day like today when a crisis would hit.
How do we ensure water continuity or the continuous uninterrupted supply of water even when the taps have run dry?
Ramos outlines four strategies that need to be implemented – store, educate, reuse and conserve.
- Install a water tank to store water
Abeco Tanks manufactures steel water tanks that store water for a day when there is a water shortage. All of the steel components are hot-dipped galvanized ensuring no light penetration, resulting in tanks that hold hygienic drinkable water.
These tanks ensure that organisations and communities can keep running when the water supply is interrupted. They act like a savings account which is why Abeco refers to them as water ‘banks’.
They come in different shapes and sizes and can be custom-made to fit any required space. The tanks are made up of modular steel panels making them easy to transport and install.
Abeco will advise on the size of the tank needed according to the requirements of the business, community or individual. Their tanks can hold from 1800 to 10 million litres of water. The galvanized steel panels are cold pressed using yield stress drawing high-quality steel that will not buckle under the pressure of the water
A storage tank will ensure that any facility that needs water to operate can carry on operating when a water crisis hits. Being proactive and storing municipal water assures water continuity and eliminates unnecessary pressure on the infrastructure of a city when there is a water shortage crisis.
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Today water is the most precious commodity. Water running through our taps every day has become something we all just expect but that day is over. It is imperative to educate the community, stakeholders and employees about the value of water and what a precious commodity it is.
Training should be conducted on the storage, conservation and reuse of water. Make an impact where you can. Install signage of water usage tips at the office & institute a water policy.
Children should be educated from a young age at school and at home. “Water conservation initiatives will fail if there is not a true behaviour change in how people view and use water on a daily basis,” says Ramos
- Reuse water by putting systems in place.
Greywater recycling systems
After municipal water has been used by any business it is recycled through a greywater recycling system and can be used for flushing toilets and irrigation.
At home, bath and shower water, washing machine water & washing-up water are known as greywater. Water tank systems exist where the greywater is pumped in and can be used to flush toilets and for use in the garden.
Install a rainwater tank
Rainwater can be harvested from the roof of a building into a rainwater tank for use in toilets & the garden.
Natural water resources can be recycled.
All countries should investigate technology that can assist with recycling natural water resources.
A technology that has been effectively used by Israel is desalination. In 2014 their desalination water production plants supplied close to half of Israel’s drinking water.
- Institute initiatives that conserve water
There are tried-and-tested methods that will assist to conserve water in any place of employment – an office building, farm, town, school or manufacturing facility.
Ensure leakages are checked frequently and repaired quickly as 60% of water wastage is due to leaking taps, pipes and toilets.
If the bill for water usage escalates check to see what is wrong.
Check to see that the plumbing is all working efficiently. Toilets should not run and taps with flow restrictors can be installed ensuring water efficiency. This alone can save up to 50% of water usage.
Reduce the flush size in your toilets by using lower-volume cisterns
Install dual flush toilets – 11 litres of water is used for each flush in a full flush toilet. A dual flush toilet only uses 4.5 litres for a full flush and 3 litres for a half flush – a saving of up to 80%!