banner

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 10.14.22 AM
540 Views

Global water insecurity calls for water infrastructure maintenance


The growing funding gap to keep up with the rehabilitation, operation and maintenance of ageing water infrastructure is a global concern, particularly in the current age of austerity, says global engineering firm Aurecon.

The firm emphasises that new water systems need to be built to cope with increasing populations, shifting consumption patterns, improving technologies, an uncertain future and a changing climate.

“This is the only way we can guarantee the security of our water in the complex times of our future,” say Aurecon waterresources design director Dr Verno Jonker.

To tackle the outlined challenges, he suggests that there must be a global mindset change. “We need to create new sustainable and resilient water realities, based on a comprehensive understanding of problems, imaginative approaches, cooperation, new paradigms, and new technologies.”

In a South African context, Aurecon’s studies indicate the critical importance of constructing integrated bulk water supply infrastructure to mitigate negative impacts associated with limited water supply. This is already seen in the Western Cape’s forced Level 4 water restrictions, which have meant households and businesses have had to take extreme and immediate action to comply with critical water-saving measures.

“Almost every day, there are constant reminders of the increasing scarcity of water and the importance of managing this essential natural resource in the face of increasing demands, degrading environmental conditions and climate change,” says Aurecon water resources engineer Dr James Cullis.

The Value of Water 
Cullis explains that clean, safe drinking water is an important prerequisite for life, the environment and healthy living. He adds that, while many countries globally spend up to 20% of their national budgets on healthcare, investment in quality water supply remains inadequate.

“Globally, 1.1-billion people still do not have access to safe drinking water, and 2.6-billion people – half of the developing world – lack even basic sanitation facilities.”

As a result, Jonker reveals that four out of five illnesses in developing countries have been linked to poor water and sanitation, and one death in five of children under the age of five worldwide is related to waterborne diseases. Even in developed countries, a lack of attention to the protection of critical water supply sources can have significant human health implications.

Food is also dependent on water and without water security, crops and livestock are put at risk,” he points out.

He further highlights that, by 2050, it is expected that foodproduction will demand 20% more water than it currently does, owing to the increase in global standards of living and the trend towards diets consisting of meat and dairy products.

“The amount of water required in the cultivation and production of food and other products is significant. It takes 600 ℓ of water to produce 500 g of wheat, 1 000 ℓ of water for 1 ℓ of milk, and 4 600 ℓ to produce one 300 g beef steak.”

Water as a Catalyst for Peace

Moreover, Cullis explains that one of the greatest challenges for the future is how to ensure sufficient and sustainablewater supply for a growing global population in excess of seven-billion. Sustainable water resources management requires collaborative partnerships among diverse stakeholders.

The human right to water and sanitation acknowledges wateras a shared resource, which brings with it complex hydrological, social, environmental and economic interdependencies, notes Cullis.

“Our growing world will demand more water and generate more pollution. This impacts and threatens ecosystems, water sustainability, peace and security. This, in turn, threatens the future and certainty of the world’s watersupply.”

Water supply risks are exacerbated by inadequate infrastructure spending, maintenance and poor managementand governance. However, Jonker postulate that this could be a necessary catalyst for improved cooperation between countries, especially in regions such as Africa, with 59 transboundary river basins.

The challenge of ensuring that water infrastructure is invested in and maintained is integral to water security. The value of water is only known when it is no longer accessible, he concludes.

Source: Engineeringnews

Recently Published

CODY FRIESEN
»

Zero Mass Water: Sunshine + Air = Water

According to the US Geological Survey, more than 99.7% of the ...

600x250-Mailer-Header-2018
»

WHAT IS THE AFRICAN REAL ESTATE & INFRASTRUCTURE SUMMIT?

Join us for the third edition of the award winning African Real ...

Schneider
»

Intelligent building operations increase green potential

Schneider Electric’s innovative building management, power ...

robot
»

Will robots enhance or eliminate jobs? SA’s first humanoid robot at Sustainability Week 2018

Science fiction is a thing of the past. Augmented reality has ...

»

Sustainability Week 2018 Newsflash: Robot to assuage labour concerns

All South African industrial stakeholders – companies, ...

Innovation
»

Schneider Electric innovations shine in Germany

In an ever-changing digital world, for everything from new business ...

candle
»

Load shedding highly likely this winter – energy expert

The possibility of load shedding by Eskom in South Africa this winter ...

SAEEC2
»

2nd Call for Papers: 2018SAEEC Conference

The President of the board of the Southern African Energy Efficiency ...

UTILITY WEEK2
»

Start planning your 3 days at African Utility Week now!

With 6 conference tracks, 5 co-located events, 1 breakfast, 4 ...