We’re wasting good water
IN 2009, civil engineers AA Ilemobade, JR Adewumi and JE van Zyl, from the universities of the Witwatersrand and Johannesburg, respectively, produced a report titled “Assessment of the feasibility of using a dual water reticulation system in South Africa”. The report was sent to the Water Research Commission.
They queried why it was practice in South Africa for potable water of the highest quality to be used for toilet flushing and landscape irrigation. It is common cause that this is unsustainable. South Africa is a water-stressed country.
They argued that a dual reticulation system, as found in the UK, Australia, Namibia, US, Singapore, Japan, China, Trinidad, Tobago, the Netherlands, Israel and the Marshall Islands, was feasible for our country as well.
Studies by Botha and Pretorius in 1998 revealed that dual systems allowed for the maintenance of adequate water supply. Even though the technology has evolved since then, an enabling environment has not materialised. Our failure to use water optimally has worsened our water woes.
Dual systems allow for nonpotable water to be recycled and for consumers to enjoy discounts of up to 60%. Total water supply, meanwhile, nearly doubles. That is something to think about. Regular control and monitoring would, of course, have to be guaranteed.
Today the water crisis in Cape Town has forced us to use potable water sparingly. Most of us who consciously want to avert Day Zero are no longer using potable water to flush our toilets. Supplying potable and non-potable water through a dual system will, therefore, make sense to us. Moreover, we will certainly never want to be in such a crisis situation again.
The engineers point out that local authorities will need to be equipped with qualified personnel to undertake control and monitoring tasks and enforce regulations and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry will have to set out policies regarding non-potable water reuse and dual systems to guarantee safety.
I recommend that all role-players get together to lay the foundations for the rapid implementation of a dual reticulation system.