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Water scarcity: Why government must expand micro-irrigation coverage

The focus of the government has to be on expanding micro-irrigation coverage

India is home to 17.5% of the world’s population, but only 4% of its fresh water resources. Agriculture consumes some 78% of the country’s fresh-water supply. With increasing urbanisation and industrialisation, India will not only have to augment supply, but also use the same more efficiently.

Budget 2017 allocates R7,377 crore towards the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), a 42% jump over the revised estimates for the current fiscal. Further, finance minister Arun Jaitley has made a smart move in providing R20,000 crore as corpus for the Long Term Irrigation Fund, on top of R20,000 crore in FY17, to bring 7.6 million hectares of land under irrigation by fast-tracking the completion of 99 prioritised projects in the four years between 2016 and 2020. The corpus is to be created by Nabard through borrowings from the market; this will keep the government’s own fiscal deficit in control! Jaitley has created a dedicated Micro-Irrigation Fund with an initial corpus of R5,000 crore, again through Nabard on similar lines.

Within the allocation for PMKSY in this budget, R3,400 crore or 46% has been set aside for the ‘per drop more crop’ component—an increase of more than 70% over the FY17 allocation of R1,990 crore. In real terms, the budget allocation for micro-irrigation in FY18 works out to be 22% higher than the revised estimates of FY11, and nearly 57% more than that for FY16, as is shown in the accompanying graph.

Micro-irrigation has gradually expanded in the country and stands at around 8.73 million hectares in FY17. But, this is just 13% of the total coverage potential of 69.5 million hectares. Micro-irrigation systems deliver water savings of up to 40% over conventional flood irrigation methods, along with appreciable crop productivity increases, thanks to the application of water at the right place (root zone) and right time. Piped water facility connecting dams and micro-irrigation system in fields can help reduce water losses; they can ensure roughly 70% conveyance-efficiency and 90% overall water-use efficiency. There can be no better step towards bringing about sustainable water use in agriculture.

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A case in point is the impact of drip irrigation on sugarcane and cotton cultivation in the water-stressed Marathwada region. In FY15, Marathwada accounted for over a fifth of the sugarcane area in Maharashtra. Since this crop consumes about 2,000 litres of water for every kg of sugar produced, many experts have questioned whether it should be grown at all in areas such as Marathwada. But the fact is that Marathwada has prospered because of sugarcane, with the mills creating several thousand jobs both upstream and downstream. Farmers, too, are unlikely to go back to growing jowar or bajra. It suggests that adopting better water management through micro-irrigation may be what is really required.

Jain Irrigation Systems Limited, the world’s second-largest irrigation solutions company, has demonstrated that drip irrigation systems in sugarcane cultivation can save around 66% irrigation water as well as raise crop yields by a third. Water saved through drip irrigation in one hectare sugarcane area can bring some five hectares under cotton. Increased sugarcane yields from drip irrigation, coupled with higher returns from irrigated cotton crop, will thus help augment farmers’ incomes and, at the same time, promote sustainable agriculture.

At an estimated cost of R75,000 per hectare for installation of drip systems, R7,722 crore will be needed to bring Maharashtra’s entire sugarcane area under drip. But in FY16, the state’s budget allocation for micro-irrigation was a mere R176.75 crore. It basically shows how our priorities in irrigation are rather perverted. Nabard is raising R20,000 crore from the market for completion of major and medium schemes having a water-use efficiency of
35-40%, but only R5,000 crore for micro-irrigation where effciency is 85-90%! Why not float micro-irrigation bonds for R20,000 crore or more?

The future revolution in agriculture is going to come from precision farming. Micro-irrigation can be the stepping stone towards achieving the goal of making Indian farming sustainable, profitable and productive. Can we expect Jaitley and, of course, prime minister Narendra Modi to take bolder steps in this direction?

Source: financialexpress

Worldwide electricity production vulnerable to climate and water resource change

Climate change impacts and associated changes in water resources could lead to reductions in electricity production capacity for more than 60% of the power plants worldwide from 2040-2069, according to a new study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. Yet adaptation measures focused on making power plants more efficient and flexible could mitigate much of the decline.

“Hydropower plants and thermoelectric —which are nuclear, fossil-, and biomass-fueled plants converting heat to electricity—both rely on freshwater from rivers and streams,” explains Michelle Van Vliet, a researcher at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, who led the study. “These power-generating technologies strongly depend on water availability, and water temperature for cooling plays in addition a critical role for thermoelectric power generation.”

Together, hydropower and thermoelectric power currently contribute to 98% of electricity production worldwide.

Model projections show that climate change will impact availability and will increase water temperatures in many regions of the world. A previous study by the researchers showed that reduced summer water availability and higher water temperatures associated with climate change could result in significant reductions in thermoelectric power supply in Europe and the United States.

This new study expands the research to a global level, using data from 24,515 hydropower and 1,427 thermoelectric power plants worldwide.

“This is the first study of its kind to examine the linkages between climate change, water resources, and on a global scale. We clearly show that power plants are not only causing climate change, but they might also be affected in major ways by climate,” says IIASA Energy Program Director Keywan Riahi, a study co-author.

“In particular the United States, southern South America, southern Africa, central and southern Europe, Southeast Asia and southern Australia are vulnerable regions, because declines in mean annual streamflow are projected combined with strong increases in water temperature under changing climate. This reduces the potential for both hydropower and thermoelectric power generation in these regions,” says Van Vliet.

The study also explored the potential impact of adaptation measures such as technological developments that increase power plant efficiency, switching from coal to more efficient gas-fired plants, or switching from freshwater cooling to air cooling or to seawater cooling systems for power plants on the coasts.

“We show that technological developments with increases in power plant efficiencies and changes in cooling system types would reduce the vulnerability to water constraints in most regions. Improved cross-sectoral water management during drought periods is of course also important,” says Van Vliet. “In order to sustain and energy security in the next decades, the electricity focus will need to increase their focus on adaptation in addition to mitigation.”

Source: phys


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Coca-Cola Releases 2014/2015 Sustainability Report

ATLANTA, July 28, 2015 /3BL Media/ – The Coca-Cola Company today released its 12th annual Sustainability Report highlighting progress made in 2014 against the Coca-Cola system’s 2020 sustainability goals.

“At Coca-Cola, we’re committed to integrating sustainability into the very heart of the enterprise, where our efforts create value for our shareowners and the communities we proudly serve,” said Bea Perez, Chief Sustainability Officer at The Coca-Cola Company. “We believe the majority of innovation over the next decade will happen at the intersection of sustainability and the supply chain. Working together with our bottling partners to empower women, better manage water resources and promote well-being gives us new opportunities to build business resiliency and add value across our system.”

The report follows the Company’s sustainability framework – “Me, We, World” – and is rooted in three leadership priorities:

Women: 5by20™, one of our value chain innovations continues progress in its commitment to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2020. As of Dec. 31, 2014, our 5by20 programs had helped enable nearly 865,000 women in 52 countries since the program launched in 2010.
Water: We are also building business resiliency through our water stewardship efforts. In 2014, we replenished an estimated 94 percent (a calculated estimate of 153.6 billion liters) of the equivalent amount of water used in our finished beverages worldwide (based on 2014 sales volume) through 209 community water partnership projects in 61 countries. The foregoing is a global, aggregate number. The replenishment figure for individual countries may vary and/or be more or less.

Well-being: The Coca-Cola system continues its work to meet global business commitments to promote well-being and to help address the public health challenge of obesity. In 2014, Coca-Cola introduced more than 400 new beverage options, more than 100 of which are reduced-, low- or no-calorie and we supported more than 330 active, healthy living programs in 112 markets.
The report also updates other areas of progress, including efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of the “drink in your hand” by 25 percent and to sustainably source key agricultural ingredients globally by 2020. In addition, through the end of 2014, Coca-Cola had distributed more than 30 billion fully recyclable PlantBottle™ packages across nearly 40 countries since the program launched in 2009.

The 2014/2015 Sustainability Report demonstrates The Coca-Cola Company’s commitment to continuous improvement, increased disclosure, risk assessment and expanded stakeholder engagement. This year, the Company developed the report at the Core In Accordance level of the GRI G4 guidelines. Ernst & Young LLP, a registered public accounting firm, provided independent external assurance on sustainability indicators related to low- or no-calorie beverages, active, healthy living programs, water use ratio, PlantBottle™ packaging, lost-time incident rate, front-of-pack labeling compliance, and greenhouse gas emissions related to our manufacturing activities.

To view The Coca-Cola Company’s 2014/2015 Sustainability Report, please visit www.coca-colacompany.com/sustainability.

About The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most valuable and recognizable brands, our Company’s portfolio features 20 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world’s largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of 1.9 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world’s top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates. For more information, visit Coca-Cola Journey at 
www.coca-colacompany.com, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo, visit our blog,
Coca-Cola Unbottled, at www.coca-colablog.com or find us on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/the-coca-cola-company.

The Coca-Cola Company Forward Looking Statements
This press release may contain statements, estimates or projections that constitute “forward-looking statements” as defined under U.S. federal securities laws. Generally, the words “believe,” “expect,” “intend,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “project,” “will” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements, which generally are not historical in nature. Forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from The Company’s historical experience and our present expectations or projections.These risks include, but are not limited to, obesity concerns; water scarcity and poor quality; evolving consumer preferences; increased competition and capabilities in the marketplace; product safety and quality concerns; perceived negative health consequences of certain ingredients, such as non-nutritive sweeteners and biotechnology-derived substances, and of other substances present in our beverage products or packaging materials; increased demand for food products and decreased agricultural productivity; changes in the retail landscape or the loss of key retail or foodservice customers; an inability to expand operations in emerging and developing markets; fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates; interest rate increases; an inability to maintain good relationships with our bottling partners; a deterioration in our bottling partners’ financial condition; increases in income tax rates, changes in income tax laws or unfavorable resolution of tax matters; increased or new indirect taxes in the United States or in other major markets; increased cost, disruption of supply or shortage of energy or fuels; increased cost, disruption of supply or shortage of ingredients, other raw materials or packaging materials; changes in laws and regulations relating to beverage containers and packaging; significant additional labeling or warning requirements or limitations on the availability of our products; an inability to protect our information systems against service interruption, misappropriation of data or breaches of security; unfavorable general economic conditions in the United States; unfavorable economic and political conditions in international markets; litigation or legal proceedings; adverse weather conditions; climate change; damage to our brand image and corporate reputation from negative publicity, even if unwarranted, related to product safety or quality, human and workplace rights, obesity or other issues; changes in, or failure to comply with, the laws and regulations applicable to our products or our business operations; changes in accounting standards; an inability to achieve our overall long-term growth objectives; deterioration of global credit market conditions; default by or failure of one or more of our counterparty financial institutions; an inability to timely implement our previously announced actions to reinvigorate growth, or to realize the economic benefits we anticipate from these actions; failure to realize a significant portion of the anticipated benefits of our strategic relationships with Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. and Monster Beverage Corporation; an inability to renew collective bargaining agreements on satisfactory terms, or we or our bottling partners experience strikes, work stoppages or labor unrest; future impairment charges; multi-employer plan withdrawal liabilities in the future; an inability to successfully integrate and manage our Company-owned or -controlled bottling operations; an inability to successfully manage the possible negative consequences of our productivity initiatives; global or regional catastrophic events; and other risks discussed in our Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2014 and our subsequently filed Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, which filings are available from the SEC. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.

Source: 3blmedia


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DWS/WESSA water project wins United Nations award

WESSA Eco-Schools and the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has won a United Nations Water for Life Best Practices Award.
The joint DWS/WESSA Eco-Schools Water Project won the award in the category ‘Best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices’ and shares the award with Project India.

The annual Water for Life Best Practices Award aims to acknowledge and promote efforts to meet international commitments made on water and related issues by 2015. The award recognises outstanding projects that are working to ensure sustainable long-term management of water resources and to help achieve the water and sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals, Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

The DWS/WESSA Eco-Schools Water Project – officially launched at the Youth Summit on Water and Climate Change in July 2014 – encourages water conservation and the wise use of water resources at school level from grades R to 12. The 50 participating schools are required to set up a water action project that includes the entire school and members of the local community.

Main objective

The project’s main objective is to strengthen water and sanitation education in South Africa through implementation of the international Eco-School Programme’s seven step framework for Education for Sustainable Development learning and change. These steps guide schools through a learning process which promotes water conservation and sanitation education, as well as engaging learners in enquiry-based learning methods which empower them to better understand their local water context and to take action to improve this.

The project has a strong inclusivity focus, emphasising public participation, participatory learning processes and action taking. Activities are focused on better water management and ensuring water security for the more disadvantaged communities that may not have access to potable water. This is especially problematic in areas where water is increasingly scarce due to climate change and poor catchment management practices.

The success of the project, now recognised by this significant international award, is an example of government and civil society organisations working together effectively in the education and environmental conservation fields.

Source: Bizcommunity

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African Water Sector and the ‘digitally smart’ utility

By George Hunt, global consulting partner for water, WCS, Wipro Limited; and Shailendra Singh, Country Head, South Africa, Wipro Limited

Water utilities across the world more than often tackle a similar set of challenges relating to service resilience, customer service, regulation, compliance and operational excellence. South Africa is no different and experience some of these challenges more acutely than other countries.   Fortunately, technology is available that can assist to resolved these challenges and improve operations significantly and importantly, service delivery.

When focusing on the African water sector, investments in this emerging market is booming, and as economies across the continent experience rapid growth, demand is outstripping the ability to supply. The delicate balance between supply and demand is progressively being felt in many countries, including South Africa, where limited water resources combined with massive growth in demand and an increasingly urbanised population are putting pressure on water and waste-water infrastructure.

The outcome of this has been a growing number of interruptions to water supply as much-needed upgrades to the existing water utilities infrastructure are delivered. In addition, rising cost of operations and increased consumer demand have created a highly challenging environment for water utility providers. Addressing these challenges requires a much smarter approach to using data and sophisticated analytics technologies to deliver greater insight, improved performance and enhanced efficiency – all of which are essential for aligning supply and demand.

Improving operational efficiency is one of the most crucial aspects to ensuring effective water utility service delivery, as this represents a significant cost. Predictive analytics and intelligent IT solutions can now assist utility providers to reduce costs by enabling them to forecast demand, or by understanding asset condition and criticality in a manner that would enable them to address potential supply or service interruptions before they become crisis. Accurate assessment of asset risk also allows for proactive or predictive maintenance of the infrastructure, which in turn reduces the need for emergency works, and thereby reduce the spending on contracted and hired services.

Another important aspect to improving service delivery is ensuring environmentally sustainable operations and reducing the environmental impact of adverse incidents, if any.  This is essential not only from a corporate responsibility perspective but also for ensuring improved customer service. Water leakage is one of the key areas that needs to be addressed, as it impacts both carbon footprint and efficiency. Using analytics solutions, subtle changes such as water pressure reduction can be monitored over time, which can help alert providers about potential water leaks. This enables them to be repaired far more quickly, improving customer service and reducing water wastage. Other common environmental considerations are the quality of water, pollution events and so on.

Leveraging the power of smarter analytical capabilities has enabled water utility providers to make more accurate, fact-based decisions, which in turn has enabled improved performance, better customer service and enhanced operational efficiency. Some of the areas that can be addressed using accurate data and insight include identifying water main burst events, interruptions to supply, low pressure and the time taken to address these issues. In addition, service requests and calls for the same incident can be more effectively grouped for greater efficiency. Proactive handling of leaks can prevent water loss, and faster response times to abnormal weather events such as flooding and water main bursts can reduce wastage and improve service. These insights can then be used to improve services and reduce time to address issues.

In addition, to effectively addressing such problems and challenges, predictive analytics solutions also enable real-time data analysis, which can be used to deliver accurate demand forecasting. This assists water utilities to optimise resource allocation, leverage deeper insight for planning processes, and predict future growth.

Growing populations as well as scarce water resources place additional pressure on infrastructure, and improving performance requires this infrastructure to be utilised optimally in order to ensure service delivery. Harnessing the power of data, analytics and technology can assist water utility providers to improve customer service, operational efficiency and environmental impact, while enabling more effective delivery of services.

Source: African Environment


 

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SA-made solar toilets a breakthrough in sanitation, dignity

The greenest school in Gauteng is the modest establishment at Orefile Primary School in Olievenhoutbosch. It is now the site of a breakthrough toilet installation that provides flush sanitation with minimal water usage – and it’s all designed, developed and manufactured right here in South Africa.

Mustek decided to sponsor the toilets as part of its CSI initiative, but the implications of the technology go way beyond the comfort and dignity of the 120 schoolchildren at Orefile: it has the potential to help preserve South Africa’s scarce water resources while saving millions on the construction of expensive sewerage reticulation.

The toilets are powered by a small solar panel that drives the two pumps contained in the sealed unit. Orefile is no stranger to solar technology, as this already supplies its electricity, while the school itself is built from environmentally-friendly razor board and waste water is re-used for other purposes.

“When we add the new solar toilets, it becomes even more interesting and challenging,” says Clever Shukwambani, Principal at Orefile Primary School.

Michael Cassidy, head of Renewable Energy at Mustek, explains that the technology distributor has a division focusing on photo-voltaic solutions.

“We wanted to give renewable energy some exposure and we came across this new technology: the solar-powered toilets. It’s a unique and different concept and we decided to sponsor a school.” The total investment, to install four structures and toilets at Orefile, was R50 000.00.

The SmartSan sanitation system was designed and developed by Professor Mulalo Doyoya and Jurgen Graupe specifically to meet the needs of the emerging market, where the infrastructure to provide traditional flush toilets is often not in place.

Prof Doyoyo explains that one of the biggest challenges with most traditional sanitation systems – whether regular flush toilets or mobile toilets – is what to do with the waste. “You have to dump it somewhere,” he says.

With the SmartSan system, biotechnology is used to process the waste within the unit itself. “It’s a mini waste treatment plant,” Prof Doyoyo says.

How it works is that the unit is installed as a closed system with either two or three tanks, depending upon the installation. The system recycles toilet flush water so it doesn’t have to be connected to municipal water, while rain water can be accommodated as well in the cistern supply tank.

A combination of biological anaerobic process and nano-filtering are used to clean the water once the toilet is used and flushed. The nano-filtration system ensures 100% removal of all dissolved contaminants such as nitrates, nitrites and phosphates in the filtered water, while the disinfection of the nano filter ensure the destruction of any possible harmful pathogens.

A ventilation system cap ensures removal of all possible odours, and there is no danger of leakage so water-borne diseases like cholera, diarrhoea or malaria cannot be spread.

The whole system requires very little maintenance, while the solar panel means it is independent from any external power supply.

More importantly, the SmartSan system uses just 600 litres of water per year, compared to a typical household usage of 32 000 litres per year used to flush the toilet.

Not only does the SmartSan system address a critical need for sanitation in a way that is sensitive to the realities of a water-scarce and infrastructure-poor country – because it is developed and manufactured in South Africa it is keeps vital intellectual property (IP) on our shores, while providing jobs and keeping the money in the economy. There are also export opportunities to countries that experience similar challenges.

The two partners started developing the systems in 2007, and have installed 1 300 units to date. Most of the sales were initially in the private sector, but the Free State Provincial Government has started using the toilets in its bucket eradication programme, and about 1 000 units have been installed so far.

Source: Environment Africa


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In the debate over water scarcity, it’s time to think solar

With more than 780 million people lacking access to potable water and 1.3 billion people lacking access to electricity, sustainable water and energy production is critical to our planet’s future. It is in this context that leaders from around the world are gathering at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, to address the water-energy nexus and its effect, elevating this important discussion to the global agenda.

According to the International Energy Agency, energy production accounts for 15 per cent of the world’s total water withdrawal – defined as water withdrawn from a groundwater source – which amounts to an estimated 580 billion cubic metres of fresh water per year. Thermoelectric power plants already account for over a third of fresh water withdrawal in the United States, where the volume is even more than the water used for agriculture, and in Europe.

There is no doubt that the water-energy nexus is real and of particular concern to water-scarce regions, such as the Middle East. The fact of the matter is that most energy generation technologies — including coal, nuclear and even concentrating solar power – consume tremendous amounts of water during operations, for processes such as fuel extraction, cooling and cleaning.

As our energy needs continue to grow, so will our use of water to generate it. The World Bank predicts that while global energy consumption will increase by 35 per cent by 2035, water consumption will increase by 85 per cent during the same period.

Looking at it in the context of energy demand in the Middle East, which has some of the highest per capita water and energy consumption rates in the world, the management of water resources will be critical to driving growth in the country’s generation capacity.

Water is a finite resource and its use in electricity production should be managed through diversified power generation that minimises water usage.

Sunlight, on the other hand, is an abundant resource and can help mitigate some of the effect on our water resources. Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy is one of only two electricity generation technologies with comparatively negligible water consumption.

PV energy systems provide a sustainable solution to the water-energy nexus by generating clean electricity with little to no water use. Most of the water consumed at solar plants is used to ensure that workers on-site stay hydrated.

On a life cycle basis, PV also consumes less water than most other power generation sources, including hydrocarbon-based technologies and biofuels, in the production process.

With the smallest carbon footprint, lowest life cycle water use, and fastest energy payback time in the industry, thin-film PV modules provide a sustainable solution to water scarcity and energy security.

While a power portfolio that completely excludes thermal generation is an unrealistic expectation at this time, the reality is that water conservation needs to remain a priority. As world leaders and decision makers meet in Abu Dhabi this week, it will also be important for them to attempt to respond to the issue in terms that will deliver tangible results.

Source: The National 


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World Economic Forum Ranks Water Crises as Top Global Risk

More than nuclear weapons or a global disease pandemic, impairments to water supplies and punishing cycles of flood, drought, and water pollution are now viewed by heads of state, nonprofit leaders, and chief executives as the most serious threat to business and society.

For the first time, water crises took the top spot in the World Economic Forum’s tenth global risk report, an annual survey of nearly 900 leaders in politics, business, and civic life about the world’s most critical issues. Water ranked third a year ago.

The report measured 28 risks on two dimensions: the likelihood of occurring within 10 years, and impact, which is a measure of devastation. Water ranked eighth for likelihood and first for impact. It was one of four risks — along with interstate conflict, the failure to adapt to climate change, and chronic unemployment — that were deemed highly likely and highly devastating.

Water’s ascent reflects a remarkable shift in thinking among the members of the World Economic Forum, the Geneva-based think tank known for its yearly meeting in the Swiss Alps that draws the elite of wealth, business savvy, and political power. Water’s top ranking also reflects the growing recognition among world leaders that diminishing supplies of reliable, clean water, if not well managed, will be a significant impediment to health and wealth for the poor and for the richest economies and largest cities.

Residents of California (GDP $US 2 trillion) and Sao Paulo (population 12 million) felt the first tremors of such disruptions during dreadful droughts in 2014. The 2.5 billion people without toilet facilities that protect them from disease and personal danger feel the stress every day.

“So much of life is affected by what happens with water,” said Bob Sandford, chair of the Canadian Partnership Initiative, which helps governments connect the science of water with public policy. “We didn’t realize until recently how much our economy and society relied on hydrologic stability.”

Water Rises in the Ranks

A decade ago, the global risks report was dominated by financial worries and macroeconomic concerns: the pace of China’s growth, sharp swings in stock and bond prices, and roller-coaster oil markets. Water merited little attention and climate change, pushed aside as a “still emerging” threat, was the only risk out of 120 in the 2006 report that was deemed too distant for a rigorous statistical analysis.

Image courtesy of the World Economic Forum Water crises ranked as the top risk for impact, according to the World Economic Forum’s survey of nearly 900 global leaders in business, academia, and government. Click image to enlarge.

 

 

Today, the script is flipped. Respondents to the 2015 survey viewed social and environmental risks as the gravest threats to the planet’s 7 billion people. Experts offered several explanations for the new direction.

Howard Kunreuther, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania who served as an academic advisor in the development of the report, said that the large number of weather disasters in the last decade has captured the attention of government officials. Floods in Pakistan’s Indus River Basin in 2010, for instance, displaced 20 million people, caused at least $US 43 billion in economic damages, and killed 2,000 people.

“Events that used to be extreme are more likely today,” Kunreuther told Circle of Blue. The risk increases as global temperatures rise, with climate change expected to cut water availability in Southern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and the American Southwest while also increasing the number of severe rainstorms. Engulfing rains or deep droughts could slash crop yields by 25 percent by mid-century, according to worst-case projections cited by the United Nations climate panel.

A second factor is also responsible for water’s rise in the risk rankings, argued Giulio Boccaletti, global director for water at the Nature Conservancy and a member of the World Economic Forum’s global agenda council on water. An evolution in the balance of world power may explain a greater emphasis on water, he said.

“The types of countries that are more vulnerable to water crises are becoming more important in global politics as the center of gravity moves from the United States and Europe to China and India,” Boccaletti told Circle of Blue.

Photo © Aaron Jaffe / Circle of Blue Most of China’s fresh water is in its wet south. Much of its energy production, urban development, and agriculture is in the dry north. One solution to the geographical mismatch, in a nation that has been building immense public works projects for centuries, is to transport was from the south to the north. The $US 81 billion South-North Water Transfer Project is in operation. The middle canal, under construction in 2010, opened late in 2014. Click image to enlarge.

In China and India, there is a much closer connection between infrastructure development, water resources, and economic growth, he added. Home to more than one-third of the world’s people, the two countries have severe mismatches between water availability and water demands. Both nations rely on unsustainable supplies of groundwater in their prime food-growing regions, suffer from polluted rivers, and have hydropower ambitions that can be wrecked by Mother Nature. As many as 30,000 people were killed and 10 hydropower stations were destroyed in a vicious June 2013 flood in Uttarakhand, an Indian state at the foot of the Himalayas.

A Broader Look at Water

Water rose as a global priority in the 2015 report, and it also acquired a new designation. The report reclassified water from an environmental risk to a societal risk, an acknowledgment that nearly all human activity — from growing wheat and catching fish, to preventing child-killing bacterial diseases and powering industries and communities — has water at its base.

“That’s big,” said Sandford about the reclassification. “I agree with the change. Water is environmental but it transcends that category. People are being devastated by these events of flood and drought. How you manage these impacts becomes an important political question.”

California is in the fourth year of a dire drought that is the worst in its recorded history. The dry weather is prompting policy changes and infrastructure investments in water conservation and transport, and testing a modern democracy’s capacity to cope with an ecological emergency. Click image to enlarge.

The world is not doing enough, the report asserts. Though the problems of floods, drought, and inadequate water supplies that were projected more than two decades ago have come true, little is being done to address them effectively. Leaders are especially ill-prepared for widespread social instability, the risk perceived to be the most interconnected, according to the report. Those connections were most visible in the Arab Spring uprisings, which began in 2010 with turmoil in the public square over food prices and resulted in the toppling of governments. A 12-year drought in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin, which crippled the largest rice industry in the southern hemisphere, contributed to shortages of grain and escalating food prices that year.

Not all agree with the assessment that the response is lagging. The report is too pessimistic in its assertion that little progress has been made to address water issues, Boccaletti said, pointing out the report’s discussion of Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin as one example of an effective solution.

The Murray-Darling is Australia’s most important river basin, providing water for two million people and 40 percent of the country’s agriculture. The long drought, which ended late in the 2000s, forced water managers to completely rework the system for allocating water to farmers, cities, and ecosystems. Less water would be available for farmers and more would be set aside to maintain the health of the river. What was needed was a credible idea of how much water would be available in the future.

Out of the crisis came the world’s most advanced system for analyzing the water flows in a river basin. Leaders committed money and made politically difficult decisions to throw out longstanding management practices in favor of decisions based on data and scientific merit.

The global risks report, Boccaletti said, is evidence that leaders elsewhere may be at a similar stage – ready to consider seriously the idea of water.

“What this report says is that leaders now recognize that they need to take care of water,” Boccaletti said. “It’s an opening to engage. We’re not necessarily ready to solve all problems. But politically we’re at a stage to have a conversation about sustainable development, to have a discussion about water and development.”

Source: Circle of Blue


 

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South Africans urged to use water sparingly, legally

South Africa’s water authorities have urged the population to respect the laws regulating water and use water sparingly, even during this festive holiday season, APA learns here Friday.

Last month the ministry of water embarked on raids in certain areas of the country to compel entities across all sectors that are abstracting water illegally from the rivers and other water resources to stop their activities or face the might of the law.

In terms of the National Water Act of 1998, all water users in South Africa, whether for commercial or domestic use must be registered through their municipalities and industries and must be issued with water use licences.

The National Water Act forms part of the pillars of South Africa’s laws as it seeks to enforce good management of water and its conservation.

South Africa is among the 30 driest countries in the world and the country also runs the risk of becoming a desert in 20 years if water is not managed and used sparingly, the water authorities said.

“It is unacceptable that some individuals and industries use the country’s scarce resource for personal benefit without applying for water use licenses.”

“An increase in unlawful water use activities, with a negative impact on the environment as well as socio-economic factors, called for a need to bring about public awareness regarding compliance” the ministry said.

Source: Star Africa

Thirsty SA on brink of water crisis

Durban – South Africans use 235 litres of water each a day compared to the international average of 173 litres – which is pushing the country into a water crisis that will, within a decade, rival the electricity catastrophe.

This is coupled with ageing infrastructure and a backlog of water delivery to communities because not enough money is being pumped into infrastructure.

This is the picture painted by the Institute of Security Studies in a report called “Parched Prospects: The emerging water crisis in South Africa” which was released last year.

The ISS focuses on all aspects of human security including poverty, development and resources.

The report said high use, coupled with waste, poor planning, abuse, and looming climate change, was creating the predicament.

In an interview Dr Jakkie Cilliers, a co-author of the report, told The Mercury that 60% of the 223 river ecosystems were threatened and 25% were critical.

“If we don’t start dealing with the water problem, we are going to get into a situation where the margins are going to get really tight and water restrictions will be severe.”

Cilliers said water management needed to be made a priority as there was insufficient capacity to build enough dams.

“Low and unpredictable supply coupled with high (and growing) demand and poor use of existing water resources make South Africa a water constrained country.”

With evaporation levels that are three times more that the low annual rainfall, South Africa is already the 30th driest country in the world.

He was doubtful about the policy interventions proposed in the latest National Water Resource Strategy. These included improving planning and management and increasing supply to meet growing demand.

“Unfortunately the government’s current plans to address our water inefficiency are not sufficient. There’s strong evidence of years of underinvestment in water infrastructure. As a result there is a backlog of communities who don’t have access to clean water coupled with the issue of ageing infrastructure,” said Cilliers.

Environmentalist Di Jones said the target for all South Africans to have access to clean water by 2030 would only be realised if water management was made a priority.

“I’m not against desalination and building of new dams, but I think we should first look at less costly measures to stretch the litres that we already have, and consumers must start saving water in their homes.”

Jones said upgrading the ageing infrastructure had to be a priority as it crippled the economy with millions of litres lost through leaks.

“Our dams need to be desludged to maximise capacity… Hazelmere Dam is said to be 37% full, but that’s not true because about 15% is sludge,” said Jones.

She suggested that industries and agriculture start using grey water instead of potable water.

A decline in demand is expected after 2035, but only in industry, thanks to the onset of renewable energy production which does not require water for cooling.

The municipal and agricultural sectors would increase demand because of rural-urban migration and the government’s plan to increase irrigated land by 33%.

To mitigate the strain on water systems, Umgeni Water has budgeted R5 billion for the next five years for six augmentation projects including raising Hazelmere Dam’s wall.

Also under construction is the R2bn Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Scheme.

“We are also looking into desalination, and feasibility studies have been conducted for two sites, in Lovu and Seatides (Tongaat),” said Umgeni’s Shami Harichunder.

Cilliers said desalination was costly at first and probably less viable because of the energy crisis. However, it would be beneficial to coastal areas and less expensive with new technology in renewable energy in the future.

Angela Masefield of the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation conceded that some river systems were under strain.

“We are constantly monitoring demand to ensure that we can give citizens, industries and agriculture assurances that they will have water in the future.”

Besides climate change, Masefield’s other concern was the high level of non-revenue water lost through leaks, waste and theft.

In 2013 the WRC released a report on a study, conducted on 132 municipalities, which said about 36.8% of water use brought in no revenue. Of this, 25.4% was lost to leaks. This was similar to the estimated world average of 36.6% but was high in comparison to other developing countries.

“We sometimes find that even those who can afford to pay for water choose not to pay and then there are those who are ‘luxurious’ with water, resulting in the household usage being higher than it should be. This, coupled with illegal connections, results in the system being unstable,” said Masefield.

Source: IOL News