Recycling water through wetlands

Diverting bathroom pipes to a mini-wetland, he makes smelly grey-water hygienic enough for watering his 100 square metre vegetable garden.

South Africa has been in hot water lately as the worst drought since 1992 struck the country.

One Johannesburg resident has made it his mission to save water as much as he can.

Mr Alosha Lynov is passionate about saving water. He is currently recycling 200 litres daily at his three bedroom home.

Diverting bathroom pipes to a mini-wetland, he makes smelly grey-water hygienic enough for watering his 100 square metre vegetable garden.

The drought has resulted in reservoirs being close to empty and some stores even ran out of bottled water recently.

Joburg’s mayor, Clr Parks Tau, has asked residents to cut back on water consumption by recycling.

“Recycling water is not difficult. I started six years ago by bucketing out our bath water onto flowers and trees. When my back had enough of this, I created my first mini-wetland using specific water plants, such as bullrushes and lilies, to clean the grey water before spraying our vegetables. One of the tricks to maximising water retention in your garden is mulch. All my garden beds are covered with a thin layer of glass clippings, leaves or bark. Without this, you will triple your water usage,” said Mr Lynov.

Known as the water wizard, Mr Lynov learnt about wetland construction at the Okavanga Delta, Africa’s largest wetland, under the guidance of Mr John Todd, who is an ecological design expert.

He studied indoor wetland creation from Mr Mike Reynolds at Earthships in New Mexico. Last year, he received certification for permaculture design from globally acclaimed permaculture teacher Mr Geoff Lawton. Over the past six years, Mr Lynov has constructed seven wetlands of various sizes across South Africa.

Source: tembisan

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Too precious to waste

Clean, fresh water – our planet’s life essence – needs a new management strategy to replace the current solution for wastewater treatment that often leads to foul water being pumped directly into the rivers and seas we depend so heavScreen Shot 2015-01-30 at 12.46.22 PMily upon. Water use in water-scarce South Africa is going to be ever more hotly contested, with agriculture, mining and the coal-fired energy we depend on all relying heavily on fresh water to function. The failing wastewater treatment plants and un-maintained water delivery infrastructure also contribute to thousands of litres being wasted every day. So, using clean, fresh water to flush our toilets is really an unsustainable practice we need to stop doing.

Wasting water can also cost you a small fortune (ask anyone who has had a shock bill from their municipality for a water leak they did not even know existed). What are the options available to us as consumers who want to do what we can not to add to the already overwhelming problem of water delivery? Simple – find a solution that can treat and recycle your domestic wastewater and enable you to re-use it for your garden, flushing toilets and even drinking – depending on the technology you choose. This means households with limited water access can be reassured of a constant supply of water that can be re-used and offers solutions for big housing estates and office blocks.

If we recycled just the wastewater and re-used the treated water to flush the toilets of office blocks every day, think of how many thousands of litres of fresh water would be saved. Rural communities in desperateneed of sanitation solutions can benefit from toilets that only use recycled domestic wastewater and this will have a significant reduction from the health risks associated with environmental and groundwater pollution. Some wastewater treatment options offer an element of social upliftment with their solutions and opportunities for job creation, skills transfer and training in rural communities, where wastewater plants which treat and recycle domestic wastewater are installed and serviced.

Leading the way in this full circle service delivery is Enviro Conscious Technologies – the Southern African Partner for (SBR) AQUAmax® Wastewater Treatment Systems. Benefits: Save up to 40% of natural fresh water resources Sustainable, cost-saving sanitation Reduce health risks Prevent environmental and groundwater pollution.

Source: Green Home Magazine


A fresh approach to ecotourism in Africa

When Albert Ndereki first worked at Chobe Game Lodge in 1971, beers were a mere US$ 0.04 cents each and guests were expected to wear formal attire at dinner in the evening. Guests flew directly into Chobe National Park with Botswana Airways (now Air Botswana), landing at Serondela Airstrip by the Chobe River and continued to the lodge on a well-graded road.

Today, he invites us on one of the first Ecotours now offered by Chobe Game Lodge.

From being born in the village of Satau in Northern Botswana to watching Richard Burton serenade Elizabeth Taylor in their private suite after their second wedding, Albert can tell you the stories of how he’s watched Botswana evolve from simple beginnings into the premier destination for safari goers around the world.

Albert talks about how challenging it was to establish Chobe Game Lodge, the first 5-star lodge of its kind in Botswana. “Things were very different then, many of the chefs, waiters, managers and other such people came from places like Zimbabwe, South Africa and overseas because there were no trained Batswana to employ” explains Albert.

“You know for the food waste at the lodge we used to dispose of it in a hole at the back of the lodge which we buried. During the Chobe River sunset cruises we used to tie reeds to fish so the guests could see the fish eagles fly down in front of them and take the floating fish.”

Albert noticed how the African Fish Eagle spent its days watching the boat waiting for its meal and quickly understood that the lodge had a responsibility to the environment and dreamed of changing how things were done.

The lodge now actively works towards benefitting the environment and boosting the local Chobe community. Albert now oversees the ecotourism initiatives at Chobe Game Lodge, inviting guests to explore the lodge on an ecotour and discover what goes on behind the scenes.

During the ecotour, Albert spends time talking about the community, what he calls the most important asset at Chobe Game Lodge, and how the lodge has invested in empowering Batswana from the region. More than 170 local youngsters have been trained and qualified through the Youth Trainee Development Programme initiated by the lodge in 2006.  18 of the graduates took up positions within Chobe Game Lodge while the others went on to further their career in the tourism industry.

“Our company medic ‘Doc B’ visits regularly to give us check-ups and provide any medicine we may need or even counselling and advice.  Every year when the company makes a profit our director calls us together to talk about the year and how we all worked as a team to make it successful. We also receive dividends through the company share scheme. So really for us working at Chobe Game Lodge, it is like being part of a big family community rather than just an employee” says Albert.

On the tour, Albert then introduces us to the ecotourism projects taking place at the lodge. Food waste is now processed in a large biogas plant which produces methane for cooking gas in the staff kitchens. Waste water is treated above ground with new technology that ensures all the grey water is safely recycled into irrigation. In fact, through processes involved in the reduction of rubbish, reusing of materials and recycling initiatives in place, less than 5% of the lodge’s waste ends up in the Kasane refuse facility.

Albert shows guests the first silent CO2 emission free electric game-drive vehicles and safari boats operating in Botswana. Travellers can now move silently through the Chobe National Park observing wildlife in their natural environment, undisturbed by the rumble of a diesel motor. A far cry from guests waiting on a boat for the Fish Eagle to be fed!

But it doesn’t stop there. There are so many fascinating initiatives in place that help keep the lodge environment pristine and natural. It’s incredible to see what can be achieved with a committed approach to responsible tourism and the ecotour is certainly a refreshing look into the future of safari lodges in Africa.

Albert tells us, “If I think back to when I was first offered the job at Chobe Game Lodge in 1971 to what we have now, I am extremely proud and happy to be a part of this place – so much care and attention goes into every part and I really enjoy sharing this with our guests.”

What a privileged to have such a passionate individual like Albert on a team.

Source: Travel News

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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