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City partially lifts water restrictions

South Africa remains a water scarce country and the City of Joburg remains a net importer of water.
The City of Joburg welcomes the decision by the Department of Water and Sanitation to lift water restrictions in Gauteng municipalities.

However, in an effort to maintain a culture of water conservation, the city has only partially lift Level-2 water restrictions, according to section 44 (3) of the Water Services by-law:

  • On an annual basis, between 6:00 and 18:00 from September 1 to March 31, and between 8:00 and 16:00 from April 1 to August 31, all consumers are prohibited from watering and irrigating their gardens.
  • All consumers are prohibited from using a hosepipe to clean paved areas and driveways with municipal water.

The JMPD has issued a total of 665 fines to consumers who contravened the Water Services by-law and consumers are urged to report non-compliance by phoning the JMPD 24/7 hotline on 011 758 9650.

The current water footprint for the City of Joburg is 309 litres per capita per day, compared to the national and world averages of 274 litres and 175 litres, respectively. At the height of the restrictions, the demand reduced to 289 litres per capita per day.

As per the Government Gazette Notice No. 910 of Monday, March 13, the Director-General of the Department of Water and Sanitation withdrew the water restrictions within the Integrated Vaal River System.

However, South Africa remains a water scarce country and the City of Joburg remains a net importer of water.

Residents are, therefore, urged to maintain vigilance in conserving this scarce resource.

The risk of demand outstripping supply in the intervening period between now and the commissioning of Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Project (2025) remains a real threat.

According to the 2009 Phase II feasibility report, the full yield is expected to be utilised by approximately 2030.

Source: southerncourier

Conserving the environment through sustainable construction

Located 17 kilometers from Abu Dhabi capital is Masdar City – which also goes by the names Zero Carbon Ark and Desert Utopia. Regarded as the model of future cities, it sits on six-square-kilometers of land underneath which is 100 billion barrels of oil but it won’t be consuming even a drop of it to achieve its zero carbon emission target. The desert temperature is around 40 to 50 degrees Celcius but inside the city it is only about 20 degrees, thanks to its indigenous design. 80% of the city’s energy supply will come from solar. A 10 megawatt solar power array is already powering the construction of a mega power supply for the city. The eco city is a perfect example of sustainable construction and smart transportation solutions; The proposed transportation system is a driverless, point-to-point personal rapid transit system, electric vehicle system, electric buses and automated public transportation network. These will help the city become a zero carbon utopia.

Buildings have the capacity to contribute to environmental conservation given that they account for more than 40% of energy consumption. There is no doubt that sustainable construction is the way of the future given that about a half of the world’s population currently live in urban centres.

With that in mind, countries are beginning to implement innovative construction to include environmentally sensitive procedures and materials, without compromising the quality and safety of buildings. And so green buildings and sustainable construction techniques continue to gain ground in developing worlds, with South Africa leading the way according to reports. Not only are green buildings more energy efficient – with the incorporation of renewable energy – but also have a smaller carbon footprint.

However, such sustainable construction methods must prove to be economically viable if they are to be accepted in society, and that is coming to pass too. There is no doubt that incorporating sustainable construction techniques help reduce final costs while many alternative environmental-friendly alternative building methods are actually cheaper than conventional methods today.

Sustainable construction ideologies

Reduction of water and energy usage during and after construction process are some of the techniques being pursued to achieve sustainable construction, although the ideas do not stop there. Another strategy is marketplace innovation, where environmental and energy sensitive products are filling construction markets every single day. Modern smart cities are also being planned with environmental conservation in mind.

Energy conservation: First, a lot of energy is used during the actual construction of buildings and during their operational phase. In addition, the manufacture of building materials also consumes a lot of energy. Thoughtful planning and design of buildings can help reduce energy consumption during and after the construction process. Increasing the use of renewable energy during the construction and operation phase is another way of cutting down on CO2 emissions related to construction, and which helps conserve energy. The region is already experiencing an increase in the number of buildings termed as energy-efficient, with research by Investment Property Databank (IPD) and the Green Building Council of South Africa showing they are worth the investment. Some governments are also, through special bodies, supporting these initiatives by awarding star ratings on green building investments.

After construction, a number of mechanisms are employed to reduce energy consumption. A simple example is the use of LED and CFL bulbs. From a normal day-to-day perspective, energy efficiency in buildings can help consumers counter high electricity bills. Use of solar hot water heaters can reduce energy consumption and the use of double glazed/ tinted windows also increases the energy efficiency rating of buildings.

Material innovation: Use of locally available and natural materials, recycled materials and durable materials is the way to environmentally-sensitive sustainable building. In addition, one of the key issues is resource efficiency. Environmentally sustainable materials, from recycled glass, reclaimed lumber,composite materials, recycled plastic and natural products such as bamboo, cork and linoleum are being employed. These materials replace or reduce the use of environmentally-harmful materials such as synthetic chemicals, which are largely utilized during construction, and which contribute to a number of gaseous pollutants. Modern engineered materials give strong and durable structures although many people still have negative attitudes against them. Already, developing nations are seeing the entry of several companies that manufacture eco-products for construction into the market.

Water conservation: Water conservation in all industries is becoming the norm given the scarcity of water as a resource globally. Some of the techniques being adopted include rainwater harvesting. Use of low flow faucets, showerheads and dual flush toilets can help customers realize lower water bills in the long run.

In conclusion, sustainable construction in developing worlds will not only help lower carbon emissions, but also lower the cost of living by reducing the cost of house units and energy bills. It also presents a good opportunity for recycling initiavies, which helps create additional job opportunities. The future of green building seems bright in developing countries as related systems and products become more acceptable to people. Thus these technologies hold a promise towards reducing housing shortage amidst rising urbanization rates. Overcoming negative attitude towards these technologies and lack of knowledge of them, among other challenges, will determine, to a great extent, the success of green building in the region. Many still need be convinced that the sustainable building materials can render strong and durable structures like traditional concrete buildings.

Source: cleanleap


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Rwanda: Conserving, Recycling Water Is Best We Can Do for This Precious Resource

Where some nations wrestle and struggle with ecology versus energy demands in form of coal and oil, Africa has to consider something more fundamental: the need for water to survive! It has been said that water is second only to air in importance for life.

We can survive many days or even weeks without food, but we can only survive a few days without water. According to water.org, about 750 million people, that is about one in nine, lack access to clean water.

More than twice that many, about 2.5 billion people, do not have access to a toilet. This grim picture demonstrates the urgent need of having access to clean water. It has been predicted by water.org that population levels will rise by around 2.7 billion, close to a 40% increase, by 2050.

If this happens, extreme pressure will be placed on our precious and already hard-pressed freshwater resources in our surroundings. A report issued in November 2009 by the UN suggests that by 2030, in some developing countries water demand will exceed supply by 50%.

According to the UN, already more than two and a half billion people in the world live in the most abysmal standards of hygiene and sanitation. Helping them would do more than reduce the death toll; it would serve to protect the environment, alleviate poverty and promote development. That is because water underpins so much of the work we do in these areas.

In fact, the need for innovations in water conservation has never been greater. According to the World Water Council, although the world’s population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources grew six-times. The increased industrialisation and the added demand for water will have somber consequences on water supply in future.

There should be increased awareness that freshwater resources need protection and sensitize companies, individuals and communities to seek innovative solutions in water conservation.

Rwanda uses less than 2% of its available fresh water resources; there is scope for increased use of the resource in the economic and social transformation. In planned developments in energy, agriculture, infrastructure, industry and domestic supply, indicate that water demand will increase in the next 5 – 10 years.

The high population growth is expected in the developing regions of the world where already clean water is often incredibly hard to come by. The problems associated with water supply are not just about quantity.

A growing number of contaminants such as heavy metals, distillates and micro pollutant are entering our water resources, supplies , making conservation more challenging. Figures on access to water and sanitation in many developing countries vary depending on the source of information . The fact that many rural water systems are not functioning properly makes it even more difficult to estimate effective access to improved water supply.

Water is very essential to survival. Unlike oil, there are no substitutes. But today, fresh water resources are stretched thin. Population growth will make the problem worse. The global economy grows concurrently with its thirst that needs to be quenched.

Indeed water is life, not only is the human body estimated to be 60 percent water, the resource is also essential for producing food, clothing, and computers, moving our waste stream, and keeping us and the environment healthy.

Most of the health and development challenges faced by the poorest of the world’s population-diseases like malaria or Tuberculosis , rising food prices, environmental degradation-the common denominator often turns out to be water.

International World water day is almost here with us, March 22nd and this year provides an important opportunity to consolidate and build on the previous World Water Days to highlight water’s role in the sustainable development agenda.

Just like the many nations on earth and Rwanda as always joins the rest of the world in marking the importance of this vital resource, there is utmost need to create awareness of its recycling and as its conservation.

The water resources in Rwanda face growing challenges arising from pressures of rapidly changing demographic patterns, the demands of intensified socio-economic development, degradation from unsustainable and inappropriate land use practices; and the uncertainties created by climate change, among others.

Millennium Development Goals has set a target of cutting by half the number of people without access to safe water by 2015. Water Resources Master Plan derived from the Rwanda National Policy for Water Resources Management that was approved by the Cabinet in February 2012 has one of its objectives to provide an equitable allocation framework for water resources recognizing water as a finite resource.

The challenge we face now is how to effectively conserve, manage, and distribute the water we have. National efforts encourage us to explore the local and global trends defining the world’s water crisis.

As it is often argued, whenever there is less land available, and less water to make that land productive, competition for that land can turn violent.

Strangely enough, as Claudia Ringler, a research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington observes, “On a per capita basis, water availability is not that bad in Africa. In Ethiopia and Somalia, the water is there, but it is not getting to where it needs to be.”

Source: All Africa


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