As part of its debt collection efforts, State-owned Eskom on Wednesday started interruptions of bulk electricity supply to some defaulting municipalities in North West and the Northern Cape.
The municipalities of Naledi, Lekwa-Teemane and Kgetlengrivier, in North West, as well as the Ubuntu and Renosterberg municipalities, in the Northern Cape, will have their supply interrupted.
Power supply will be cut between 06:00 and 08:00 and 17:00 and 19:30 during weekdays and between 08:30 and 11:00 and 15:00 and 17:30 on weekends.
Many defaulting municipalities that were set to have their power cut from this month have made payments to Eskom or reached payment plans with the utility.
Eskom on Tuesday reported that 21 of the 34 identified municipalities scheduled for supply interruptions during January had met its requirements. As a result, these municipalities have not had their supply interruptions suspended. This includes the Madibeng and Maquassi Hills municipalities in North West.
“We are immensely encouraged by the kind of response we are witnessing presently and would like to thank all the municipalities that have made an effort to pay their accounts, and committed to their payment agreements,” said Eskom interim CEO Matshela Koko.
Eskom will monitor the strict adherence to the payment plans and the payment of current accounts of these municipalities and any defaults will result in the interruption of supply without further notice.
Municipal customers are encouraged to engage with their supply authorities to get updated information on their municipality’s arrears situation.
Durban – A week of searing heat in KwaZulu-Natal did little to alleviate the province’s water woes, with service provider Umgeni Water saying dam levels continued to dip.
Spokesperson Shami Harichunder said that water resource availability remained “of grave concern”.
“Water shortages within the Umgeni Water operational area are as a result of a protracted drought, which has affected many parts of KwaZulu-Natal. Exacerbating the current situation are high temperatures, which cause evaporation of dam surface water,” he said.
Harichunder added that below average rainfall was predicted for the next four months.
“Information released by the CSIR suggests that the below-average rainfall pattern will continue to be experienced until the end of August 2016.
“This means that the amount of water currently available in dams that are owned or operated by Umgeni Water will have to be carefully managed in order to ensure that available water lasts until the next good rains arrive.”
He said that water cuts by municipalities would be key in managing the scarce resource.
“Management of water resources at times of absence of rainfall and simultaneous reduction of dam levels involves the application of a cut in potable water production at water treatment plants and introduction of restrictions by water services authorities,” he said.
THE South African Local Government Association (Salga) has reiterated its call for the equitable share formula, which is used to allocate funding to the country’s municipalities, to be reviewed urgently because it leaves metros such as Cape Town underfunded.
The local government equitable share, which is divided among 278 municipalities, is an allowance for basic services, community services and administration.
Salga Western Cape chairman Demetri Qually said at the weekend the financial sustainability of local government was a challenge. “The funding model of local government as proposed in the Local Government white paper should be reviewed and Salga is consistently discussing the issue of unfunded and underfunded (municipalities) and sustainability of local government in the national budget forum,” said Mr Qually.
Local government’s share of the national budget is about 9%. More was needed given the infrastructure and services delivered by municipalities, compared with other spheres of government.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has previously bemoaned the inadequate annual allocation the city receives from the national government, saying it was insufficient to meet the growing service needs of the city.
“People are moving to Cape Town in search of opportunities as confirmed by the census, (but) national government is giving more money to smaller municipalities away from the metros,” Ms de Lille said recently.
Mr Qually said revenue collection by Western Cape municipalities averaged 96%. The 9.4% electricity tariff increase awarded to Eskom would put municipal revenue under pressure.
A DRAFT policy which elevates sanitation as a priority and holds municipalities to account has received the backing of social justice groups.
The last time the policy on sanitation was reviewed was 10 years ago.
The Department of Water and Sanitation has drafted a new policy, and opened it for public comment until March14, with some of the focus areas being the right to access to basic sanitation services and prioritising hygiene and basic sanitation services to vulnerable people and unserviced households.
Marie Brisley, the department’s water policy chief director said it will play a stronger role in ensuring municipalities budget properly and meet the standards in terms of wastewater works.
There has been no substantive policy regulating sanitation provision in South Africa, which has left implementation haphazard and without basic standards, Social Justice Coalition (SJC) spokesperson Axolile Notywala said on Tuesday.
Brisley admitted that sanitation provision had not received the necessary attention it required, and was usually the last thing municipalities budgeted for.
“That is why a lot of the wastewater treatment works are neglected and the water that goes back into the water resources does not meet the standards,” Brisley said.
At a public consultation in the city yesterday, SJC deputy general secretary Dustin Kramer said he liked aspects of the draft policy, and Ses’Khona People’s Rights Movement leader Loyiso Nkohla said the policy considered a wide range of issues.
Ses’Khona spearheaded a campaign for the installation of permanent toilets in informal settlements by dumping human faeces in public areas, notably the Cape Town International Airport.
“The government has done a wonderful job in covering issues on a wider spectrum. But they have neglected to include consultation from groups before drafting the policy,” Nkohla said.
In a statement, Notywala said: “Over several years, the SJC has led a campaign for clean and safe sanitation in informal settlements.
“Access to clean, safe and dignified sanitation facilities for all is one of the most basic rights. It is not a luxury. The continued violation of this right is one of apartheid’s greatest legacies and today’s most difficult challenges.
“We encourage communities and relevant stakeholders to make submissions and to ensure that the policy ultimately adopted is appropriate, and has the impact so urgently needed.”
Brisley said the country was expected to experience increased urbanisation, which will put strain on urban sanitation systems.
But at the same time, growing and changing settlements in rural areas are also putting pressure on small and limited sanitation systems.
LATE last year, there was a parliamentary question (4252) in the National Assembly directed to the minister of Water and Sanitation (DWS), Nomvula Mokonyane, for a written reply on whether any of the metropolitan municipalities were currently treating effluent for reuse.
There are six waste water treatment works under metropolitan municipalities treating effluent for reuse and the DWS is unequivocal that the recycling of effluent by municipalities is primary in order to preserve this finite resource.
Water reuse is widely practised throughout the world, in developed, developing and emerging countries. Water Service Authorities (WSAs) in South Africa currently face a challenge with sustainable supply of sufficient quantities of good-quality potable water to the population.
This is mainly due to changing weather patterns, resulting in increased droughts.
As a water-scarce country, we cannot afford not to reuse water. To address water shortages, the DWS and WSAs are increasingly investigating alternative ways of reusing our raw water resources, which include treating waste water and desalinating both brackish and seawater.
In the Northern Cape, among many examples, the Sol Plaatje Municipality, through the Homevale Waste Water Treatment Works (HWWTW), is pumping treated effluent into the so-called Kamfers Dam, which has provided a habitat for the scarce flamingo birdlife which is breeding at this man-made pan, thereby putting treated effluent to good use.
Under the oversight role of the DWS, municipalities are expected to comply with certain standards of water quality.
One of the ways of encouraging municipalities is through the green drop certification processes, which recognise best practice of operation and maintenance of waste water treatment works by municipalities.
Treated effluent is used for various agricultural and livestock activities and is used to beautify our towns and cities by watering parks and gardens, which are recreational facilities.
As the DWS, we continue to monitor businesses that are violating the law by discharging untreated effluent into our rivers and polluting our water resources.
Through education and awareness, we are educating our communities not to vandalise water infrastructure, including waste water treatment works.
We continue to encourage municipalities to upgrade security measures at both waste and water treatment works through proper fencing and placing security guards at access points.
I think it would be best if our water treatment works could be declared national key points.
What if this was the last drop? Reuse your water (grey water), stop polluting our water resources and stop vandalism.
By working together, we can save more water!
Together we move South Africa forward!
Recycling SA’s electronic waste (e-waste) will be a source of new business, job creation and will develop the country’s economy, says environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa.
SA has an unemployment rate of 25%, and Molewa says government recognises the potential of the e-waste sector in helping drive job creation and is committed to working with the sector.
“There are opportunities for job creation and poverty alleviation, and entrepreneurial opportunities from a well-planned, strategically resourced, well regulated,managed and controlled e-waste system,” she says.
The minister says her department has identified recycling as a way to regulate waste management in the country, and not only protect citizens’ health and the environment, but create jobs at the same time.
“Most of the components of e-waste are recyclable. The department has put systems in place for the collection, transportation, sorting and recycling of e-waste,” she says.
“We see the waste sector in general and the e-waste sector in particular as a catalyst for socio-economic development. It is the source of new businesses and jobs, as well as an important contributor to us attaining our goals of a cleaner, greener South Africa,” Molewa explains.
ICT veteran Adrian Schofield says government can form a formal e-waste supply chain by training people to educate their local communities.
“An opportunity to elevate indigent people who currently sift through waste on an informal basis into a properly organised workforce will repay the required investment through the value created from recycled materials and the prevention of environmental damage through toxic dumping,” he notes.
Meanwhile, the e-Waste Association of South Africa (eWASA) also notes the e-waste epidemic in SA can potentially boost the economy.
According to eWASA, through the establishment of proper recycling facilities, precious metals, including gold, indium and palladium, can safely be reclaimed and re-used.
Molewa notes the country’s government institutions, which include departments, provincial departments, municipalities and state-owned enterprises, generate significant amounts of e-waste.
The minister says e-waste makes up 5% to 8% of municipal solid waste in SA and is growing at a rate three times faster than any other form of waste. This becomes a further challenge because of the lack of proper management facilities for e-waste, which means large amounts of e-waste will be disposed of in landfill sites.
In 2008, e-WASA warned “Africa is becoming a dumping ground for America and Europe under the guise of donations…and if e-waste is not managed, SA could find itself and its people in a high risk health and environmental crisis”.
“The challenge in the proper management of e-waste is a result of a lack of recycling infrastructure, inadequate funding, poor legislation, a lack of public awareness and market-based instruments,” says Molewa.
Schofield agrees SA does have a serious e-waste problem but this is part of a larger problem of waste management.
“Attention to the value of recycling and to the detrimental effects of certain types of toxic waste has not received the attention from government at all levels that it should. We are only now beginning to see municipalities paying attention to recycling and educating households and businesses into separating waste into categories,” he says.
Sunday was the first day that water rationing kicked in at a number of municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal in a bid to conserve water resources in the province.
The drought is the worst that has been experienced by the province since 1992, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said.
Dube-Ncube last week warned that the province was suffering water shortages and that mandatory water conservation measures would have to be implemented.
eThekwini Municipality (Durban and surrounds); Ilembe (Stanger, Ballito, Ndwedwe); uThungulu (Richards Bay, uMfolozi) and Mtubatuba will be most affected.
In a statement released on Sunday, Dube-Ncube said: “Today some municipalities will commence with radical water rationing programmes as part of managing the available water resources.
“Water rationing means that water production will be reduced and, as a result of this water reduction, less water will be supplied to municipalities. This will have a knock-on effect on consumers who will be given a set of amount of water per day once the water quantum allocated to households is consumed, there will be no water available until the following day when a new amount is allocated.”
The northern areas of eThekwini and the southern areas of Illembe, which are supplied by Hazelmere Dam, are expected to be the worst affected.
Last week Dube-Ncube said Hazelmere Dam had a mere two months supply of water remaining if restrictions were not implemented.
“We require major changes in policy and consumer behaviour to manage the current water crisis in our province. Today, not tomorrow, is the time to begin to change the way we treat water by conserving every drop,” she said.
“Water rationing timetables will be issued on a weekly basis and consumers and municipalities are urged to take note of water allocations available and use water sparingly. The less prudent we are with water, the higher the risk of water shortages we will face,” said Dube-Ncube.
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Take an African scientist and an African engineer and ask them to find a solution to water-borne problems that impact on 783 million people, and cause 443 million ‘lost school days a year’ due to disease. Chances are that they will come up with a solution to provide Africans with safe, healthy drinking water.
For Dr Lloyd Muzangwa, a Zimbabwean scientist, and his friend George Kahabuka, a Tanzanian engineer, knowledge is something that has to be shared with others.
“Life does not measure you on the basis of your credentials, but on the results you deliver,” they explain. This philosophy formed the basis of their entry into the recent Standard Bank Water 4 Africa challenge. Dr Muzangwa’s and Kahabuka’s submission was announced as the winner of the ‘Mid-stage’ (tested solutions, ready for first deployment) category of the competition, which saw them walking away with a prize of US$5,000 for the development of their MAJI 1200 water purification system.
The category was one of three that saw inventors from around the globe competing for the honours for their innovative work in developing water solutions that could be implemented across the African continent.
Winners in other categories were:
· Late stage (deployed solutions, ready for scale) – a single prize of US$10,000, which was awarded to the inventor of the SpaTap in Australia.
· Early stage (new and promising concepts) – which saw three prizes of US$2,000 each being awarded to inventors Joel Mukanga of Uganda, Felix Manyogote of Tanzania, and James Murphy of South Africa.
Applying their minds and scientific and engineering skills, gleaned in Africa as well as with major US and European high tech companies, the inventors of the MAJI 1200 saw it as their duty to use their abilities to benefit Africa’s people.
Their prize money will go towards the construction of MAJI 1200 units that will be donated to schools in far-flung areas of rural Zimbabwe. Bringing together the natural energy of the African sun and trends in modern water purification practice, the MAJI 1200 promises to bring first-world science and engineering knowledge about potable water to African water treatment, explains the 28-year-old Dr Muzangwa.
He adds that he spent his childhood in rural Zimbabwe, but now spends his time as a researcher in the areas of chemistry, physics, astro-chemistry and astro-biology.
“The MAJI 1200 system uses innovative ultraviolet (UV) light technology and solar energy to purify water, using technology that is becoming acceptable to public and regulatory agencies for use as an alternative disinfectant.”
“When municipalities install UV systems, the water supply is protected from chlorine-resistant micro-organisms. UV disinfection can also be used as a virus-barrier against Adenovirus – a major cause of respiratory problems and diarrhea – in a multi-barrier strategy to provide confidence in water supply.”
“While chemical disinfectants destroy or damage a microbe’s cellular structure, UV light inactivates microbes by damaging their DNA, thereby preventing the microbe’s ability to replicate (or infect the host). UV light does not impart tastes or odours to water as chlorine does, and does not form harmful disinfection by-products, or increase bacterial regrowth in distribution systems.”
“The MAJI 1200 can be used as a mobile or fixed water disinfection system. It can help communities in rural areas since it is solar powered, is relatively affordable to construct, and delivers high volumes of water. It is basically a maintenance-free system in which only the lamp and filter require replacement.”
Looking to the future of the system, Dr Muzangwa says that funding is required to set up an installation plant in Africa. A positive spin-off of this could be job opportunities with each installation being tended to and operated by people trained in its use.
With the present cost running at approximately US$2,000 per unit, funding to scale up production and conduct further research would be a bonus. To this end, active lobbying for donors, sponsors, NGOs, and governments is underway.
In the meantime, the MAJI 1200 inventors aren’t resting on their laurels. They are developing other systems that use generators and electricity as well as smaller purification systems.
“The MAJI 1200 is undoubtedly a most exciting project from Africa to emerge from the Water 4 Africa challenge. It is already attracting interest in Zimbabwe and Tanzania and has the potential to open access to healthy water for millions of Africans,” says Jayshree Naidoo, Innovation Thought Leader at Standard Bank.
“It is exactly the type of innovative contribution we were seeking when we sponsored Water 4 Africa, and sought global input in major areas of water conservation. These ranged from ensuring the sustainability of groundwater resources, sanitation, and purification of water including solar, through to filtration of water, as well as innovative solutions to promote wise water use.
“Harnessing the internet ensured that inventors and social entrepreneurs from across the globe could take part in helping solve a significant African problem. By using ‘crowd sourcing’, a powerful tool to gather innovative ideas and identify practical solutions to address the water issues, we ensured that collaboration around water saving projects could take place, regardless of geographical boundaries.”
“It was particularly encouraging to see that of the five winners announced across categories, four are from the African continent. It is great to see that Africans from all walks of life are involved in their communities and are intent on spending their time and talents to benefit others,” concludes Naidoo.
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