Water solutions points that from the heavens pouring like manna is more than enough for all; what's more it is pristine and costs nothing.
In an eloquent column published in the Witness on August 2nd, 2021 Khulekani Ngcobo from the Dept of Water Affairs writes of the failure of society to provide water to disadvantaged and vulnerable households; that which is reliable and affordable.
He writes of elevating water to a bigger part of “the conversation.” So, I will have my say.
Worldwide this conversation has become increasingly alarmist as the demand for water increases logarithmically, yet the giant dams are passing their sell-by date and very few new ones are being built. They are traditionally funded by the generation of electricity but with prolonged droughts from climate change many of these reservoirs, like Kariba for example, simply do not have enough. Both Zimbabwe and Zambia are starved of power.
Mr Ngcobo sees the provision of water as our government’s responsibility and he rightly calls for it to be made a "core issue." Yet not just in SA but worldwide governments are simply unable to provide the immense amount of money to fund building new dams. It’s simply not happening, and most likely will not happen. Two billion people are currently affected according to Ngcobo, and it’s set to worsen, not improve.
Ngcobo speaks of other “green infrastructure for more flexibility and resilience.”
It is indeed becoming increasingly clear that individuals in society, that’s you and me, need to become more resilient regarding the provision of both food and water for themselves; and many other issues such as electricity too. It is now abundantly clear that not just our government but many worldwide are not able to provide us with our basic needs. “Een boer moet een plan maak,” so the saying goes, and so must we all.
The disadvantaged and even the affluent are already feeling the pinch; water is often not available, and the quality leaves much to be desired. And much as we would like to believe otherwise, the problem is set to become far worse, not better.
“Solutions for today and tomorrow, are what we need; green, reliable and affordable water,” continues Ngcobo.
It is incredible to me that we have completely missed that the greatest water resource is not coming from Midmar Dam, nor the Orange River, but it falls on the roofs of our houses in abundance in most parts of South Africa. More than we can ever use is falling like manna from the heavens, available to each and every household, and still we think, no, the government must provide.
The government cannot and will not provide. We either start harvesting and storing that abundant supply for the dry months, or we will increasingly have to go without. We can wail and throw up our hands in horror, we can toyi, we can stand on our heads but it will make no difference. The solution is falling on our heads, and we simply cannot see it.
It is a fact that enough water falls on most roofs in one average summer month in KZN, winter in the Cape, to provide for a whole year. More, it is free, even better is that in most areas, unless you live downwind from Medupi, it is pristine; and we simply cannot see the solution falling on our roofs and staring at us in the face.
The problem is storing around 30 kl, depending in where we live. Above ground the water is warm and not potable, plastic tanks are expensive and have a limited lifespan. The solution we learned whilst living in the Netherlands is to build an underground reservoir with a roof; it is neither technically difficult nor expensive. It will pay itself off in about 5 years, and then you have free, pristine water for ever; green, reliable and affordable. Problem solved.
We have used municipal water for only two months at the height of droughts in the nine years since building our underground reservoir. Those who will not hear, must feel, to quote a Dutch idiom. And you can be sure the government will not facilitate it through tax incentives. They have other things of greater import on their minds.
Water solutions for poor and rich alike.
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