Globally, water & the lack thereof, are increasingly the focus of Governments, Businesses, the media and the general public. The USA and California specifically has been suffering the worst drought in decades for the last four years and due to this drought and the impact on the water table in and around the area Dennis Dimick wrote an article for National Geographic on the pumping of too much water from our underground aquifers. The article which can be read here http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140819-groundwater-california-drought-aquifers-hidden-crisis/
“We're pumping irreplaceable groundwater to counter the drought. When it's gone, the real crisis begins.” says Dennis Dimick in NationalGeographic
Sandra Postel also wrote an article for National Geographic; She writes that our human story has always been a water story.
The earliest civilizations developed and grew along rivers – from the Tigris and Euphrates in the Middle East, to the Nile in Egypt, to the Yellow River in China. Rivers have been the lifelines for the growth and evolution of societies, providing the essentials of food, trade, and culture.
Today, the daily news reminds us that global water trends are not good. Rivers are running dry, groundwater is being depleted, droughts are deepening, and competition for limited supplies is heating up.
This year, for the first time, the Geneva-based World Economic Forum declared “water crises” to be the top global risk in terms of impact – bigger than fiscal crises, weapons of mass destruction, or the spread of infectious diseases.
These are frightening statements. Climate Change is affecting us all and will continue to do so with emerging economies being very hard hit.
More than 1 in 10 people around the world does not have access to safe drinking water, this usually means that women and girls are occupied with collecting water for their families each day rather than studying or having the time to start or operate small businesses and thus contribute to GDP.
Dams, diversions and pollution have a serious impact on freshwater ecosystems – human intervention being the cause of many of these impacts, we have the power to change things. We need policies that promote more sustainable use and management of water.
Here are some easy actions, which, if taken by many of us, could save a lot of water, freeing up more to share with the natural world.
First, let’s waste less food. It takes a lot of water to grow and produce the foods we eat. In fact, our diets account for about half of our daily water footprint. Every day we “eat” about a thousand times more water than we drink.
We can also be wasteful in our use of water in our homes. The US and European laws and building codes require that new toilets and washing machines and other electrical goods are extremely water efficient. Replacing items in our homes is simply not economically viable for most South Africans however and so we need to find alternative ways to save water in our homes – placing filled water bottles inside our toilet cisterns or using bath water to water plants are among numerous possible water saving options. Outdoors, planting climate-appropriate grasses and shrubs, and irrigating them only when necessary, can cut outdoor water use by 20-100%.
Ensuring that leaks and dripping taps are repaired as a priority will save gallons of water every day.
The Agricultural sector is also under severe strain due to water constraints which are impacting the production of our food. It is estimated that the drought may result in losses in Agriculture of up to R10 billion in maize production this year.
In December 2015 the United Nation’s food and nutrition working group released a report stating that this drought (the worst since 1992) had already resulted in a food price increase of 6.4%
The webpage "Your Neighbourhood" spoke to Mandla Nkomo, operations director at TechnoServe, which assists emerging farmers, who said the drought’s impact on its clients was devastating.
“In irrigation areas, farmers’ water allocations have been cut back, which has had a direct impact on the incomes of those farmers,” he said.
“In North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, which are rain-fed areas, there has been a very heavy effect on the maize crop. Reports indicate that some farmers have had their entire maize crop written off with Grain crops being severely affected and stock farmers being impacted by quality and quantity of available grain.
The Kokstad Chamber of Commerce and members of our Community have formed a Water Crisis Committee and are working with Government at all levels to find short, medium and long term solutions to the current situation. The Kokstad Chamber have appointed Scientific Roets Engineering to look into producing a report on the water requirements, existing and recommended water infrastructure and costs involved in creating a Water Management Plan for the Greater Kokstad Municipal area. Adriaan Roets has been liaising with Willcocks, Reed & Kotze from Hilton who have been contracted through the District Municipality so that we can ensure that we have an extensive plan with realistic costs to present to the Provincial Government to motivate a request for funding to implement these plans as a matter of some urgency.