South Africa is a country located at the Southern Tip of Africa. About twice the size of Texas it is home to 49 million people. This country has been stricken by affects from the long standing apartheid to the devastation that diseases such as HIV/AIDS and TB have caused. Now another crisis looms in the distance: Water. As more and more people migrate into cities from rural villages the pressure for the city to meet the water demands is ever increasing.
Many boreholes in South Africa have a certain level of iron and manganese in them. Iron bacteria feed off this iron and manganese, using them as energy sources. These bacteria are found on surface water and in the soil and can easily infiltrate your borehole. Iron bacteria themselves are not harmful to humans but contamination can create a water quality environment suitable for disease-causing, or pathogenic, bacteria, viruses and other microbes. Moreover, they can also cause some unpleasant and persistent plumbing related problems as well as;
- Unpleasant taste and odours,
- Rusty slime build up, called biofilm, in your borehole, tank or filters,
- Reduced well production or reduced efficiency of point of use treatment devices,
- Premature or excessive corrosion of borehole and plumbing components.
Biofilm is the reddish-brown slime that builds up inside your borehole and causes the problems listed above. It is the metabolic byproduct from the oxidation of iron or manganese by the bacteria. If left unchecked, biofouling can clog pump intakes, well screens, filters, and water pipes.
Stains, tastes, or odours may be due to other causes, so it is imperative to identify the chemical substances and microorganisms borehole water. For this we would take a sample of the borehole water and send it to the laboratory for analysis. From there we can gauge what organism is causing the problem and how it should be treated. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that the iron (Fe) and Maganese (Mn) levels in the borehole should be 0.3 mg/l to 0.1mg/l.
To remove this slime and iron bacteria from the borehole we use a chlorine based shock treatment. The added benefit of this treatment is that it will reduce other pathogenic microorganisms, sometimes harmful, that may also be present in your drinking water. To determine the extent of the problem we will put a borehole camera down the hole and then treat as per our observations. During this time of super chlorination the water must not be used at all.
Borehole clogging in the water supply system is of greatest concern as it jeopardises the sustainability of the borehole. Often owners will make the erroneous assumption that the borehole is slowing down or has run dry where in fact it is the build up of biofilm which is impeding the flow of water into the borehole. Having your borehole serviced at regular intervals can save you from having to drill a new borehole.
The reduced production capacity lowers the efficiency of the borehole. As a result the electricity costs increase due the higher electricity requirements for pumping. This is because the pump needs to work harder and hence uses more electricity. There is also more wear on the pump reducing its longevity. The biofilm also builds up in pumps and begins to clog the impellers which can then result in pump failure. Furthermore, with the presence of sediment or biofilm in the water your ultra violet light filter will become increasingly ineffective. The time period between cartridge changes in your filter housing will also decrease thereby increasing the cost of using borehole water.
A borehole should be maintained or serviced in the following circumstances:
- Every two to three years depending on the results of your water quality test,
- If you have moved to a property that has a borehole and the old owner does not have sufficient knowledge of the borehole performance,
- The borehole water is turbid, which means it is cloudy or has suspended particles in it,
- There has been a decrease in the borehole’s performance capacity—that is, the litres of water per minute (hour) that the pump can supply decreases,
- The water has developed an odour or taste problem,
- The water tests positive for total coliform and/or overall biological activity,
- If you have a high iron content in your water. This will be picked up in the water quality test,
- If you have reoccurring problems with your borehole pump.
The cleaning process of a borehole basically requires two methods; either chemical or mechanical and in some cases both methods need to be used. A chlorine based solution is usually used in the chemical method. In the case of the mechanical methods the hole can be water jetted or brushed to remove the build up along the walls of the borehole and/or pumped to remove sand, sediment or other debris. A professional assessment needs to be done in order to determine the course of the rehabilitation or cleaning of the borehole.
For more information please contact Betty 083 446 4226
In today’s uncertain times having a borehole is no longer a luxury. With the threat of global warming and the escalating decay of our water infrastructure, our access to clean, potable water is in jeopardy. Internationally, there has been a move towards private water supply and South Africa is no exception. Together with the trends to self-sufficiency, like solar power, boreholes have become increasingly more important.
As the demand for boreholes increases so too does the availability of service providers. The market is perceived as been a lucrative one and newcomers are continuously entering the market. But not all boreholes are drilled equal. A borehole should last anything from 20 – 50 years provided the construction is structurally sound. Ground conditions change from one borehole to another hence each borehole is unique.
As a consumer it is difficult to know if you have selected a competent service provider with the right level of skill. Drilling a borehole today is an investment which increases the value of your property. Although initial costs of drilling and installing pipes and pumps may be high, there are many long-term benefits to having your own water source. At prices ranging from R80 000 to R120 000, and sometimes more depending on your unique requirements, you want to be sure that you have the right company drilling your borehole.
- The first thing you would like to know is if the company belongs to an industry association like the Borehole Water Association of South Africa. Although the industry association or organisation has no legal hold over the service provider, their members are expected to abide by the regulations and standards of the association. The Borehole Water Association will advise you on what to expect when drilling a borehole and if a dispute should arise between you and the service provider, they can offer some intermediary assistance.
- As the say in real estate, “Location, location”, so it is with borehole drilling. It would be a good idea to do some inquiries with your neighbours to see how many people have a borehole and the yield and depth of these boreholes. When interacting with the borehole company try and gauge their level of experience in your area and what they expect in terms of yield and depth. The final port of call would be a geohydrologist or geophysicist. They will use instrumentation, topology and mapping to mark out the point that has the best potential for intercepting water. Many drillers have large heavy equipment and can only access the driveway of the property hence many surveyors/diviners mark a point on the driveway. Keep in mind that Blue River Drilling SA uses the Armidilo that can access those hard to reach places. We go where the water is.
- Once you have found you spot, you now need to find the driller. As mentioned, the Borehole Water Association can provide references after which you can ask the driller for some customer references. It is better to get references dating a year or more as this will give you an idea of how the borehole drilled has stood the test of time. The driller’s level of experience is also important, so you would want someone who has a good knowledge of drilling and the various ground formations they may have encountered. It is also important that the equipment is well kept and reliable.
- Does size matter? More and more small drill rigs are entering the market. These machines can make the difference, provided they live up to their claims. A domestic borehole will on average be about 60m – 120m. It is rare to go deeper than this. A traditional rig will make these depths with very little effort. Not all small rigs can do these depths. Some are only designed to go through soft sands and soils and when they reach the bedrock the driller struggles to go further. Some of the small rigs are confined to drilling a small diameter, less than 6”, where only a smaller non-standard pump can fit. In some cases, the diameter is too small to fit borehole grade casing and over time the borehole collapses as it did require the casing in order to remain stable. It is important to know what the capability of the machine is and to have this in writing so if the hole is not to standard you have recourse. The Armidilo designed, build and operated by Blue River Drilling SA is able to drill a standard borehole of up to 8” and a depth of 160m. The standard diameter for a domestic borehole is 152mm (6”).
- A well constructed borehole often requires casing, either steel or UPVC. The inclusion of casing in a borehole can almost double the cost of the borehole that was initially quoted. This is one reason why a driller should have some knowledge of the area as he will be able to advise beforehand if there is a chance of having to case the complete borehole. Most drillers may only mention this in passing as the costs are that much higher for a fully cased borehole and this might deter the client. When it comes to casing, he may make the decision to forgo the casing only to find that in 2 or 3 years the borehole has collapsed. It is strongly advised that you discuss the need for casing with your service provider. It is far better to take another 2 or 3 months to save for the casing than to forgo this important part of the borehole construction. Also remember to discuss the pros and cons of steel casing and UPVC casing.
- It is extremely difficult to predict the exact ground formation that the driller will encounter while drilling your borehole. Even though the borehole site survey can give you a good indication, there is still a possibility of Mother Earth surprising us. A very hard and abrasive rock formation can attract a drilling surcharge to make up for the wear and tear on the bit and the additional diesel used. Soft sands or clay might call for foam drilling which will also attract costs for the additives. Once again an experienced driller should be able to advise in advance if there will be any additional drilling costs over and above the standard rate.
- Drilling is messy and noisy. The equipment and drilling process can be dangerous and cause injury. Remember to keep animals and children away from the equipment and for peace in the neighbourhood give your neighbours a head’s up that you will be drilling a borehole. And remember, for your safety and the safety of our crew please adhere to the rules of social distancing.
For further information you can reach us on 083 446 4226 or email@example.com
Currently The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19. There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.
Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low. Laboratory studies of surrogate coronaviruses that took place in well-controlled environments indicated that the virus could remain infectious in water contaminated with faeces for days to weeks. A number of measures can be taken to improve water safety, starting with protecting the source water; treating water at the point of distribution, collection, or consumption; and ensuring that treated water is safely stored at home in regularly cleaned and covered containers.
The CDC is reviewing all data on COVID-19 transmission as information becomes available. At this time, there is no evidence that shows the transmission of virus that causes COVID-19 through sewerage systems has occurred, although it is possible. This guidance will be updated as necessary as new evidence is assessed. Data suggest that standard municipal wastewater system chlorination practices may be sufficient to inactivate coronaviruses, as long as utilities monitor free available chlorine during treatment to ensure it has not been depleted. Conventional, centralized water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection should inactivate the COVID-19 virus.
With an infrastructure in steep decline it is imperative that we safe guard our water systems to ensure a water supply free of any pathogens or contaminants. The standard water treatment systems for a borehole can also be installed at the point at which municipal water enters the property.
For further information on the filtering and disinfection of your borehole water please contact us on 083 446 4226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for the COVID-19 virus Interim guidance – 19 March 2020
South Africans urged to become more aware of their water footprints
© Reuse this BY: ANINE VERMEULEN CREAMER MEDIA SENIOR STAFF WRITER
It is predicted that, in the next five years, water demand could outstrip supply in South Africa, says Nedbank Sustainability Carbon Specialist Dr Marco Lotz. Print Send to Friend 7 0 With increasing population numbers and urbanisation, the debate regarding the amount of investment in water and the possibility of future water load- shedding is becoming more prominent. Lotz notes that South Africa receives less than half of the earth’s average amount of water, at 492 mm p/y, classifying South Africa as a water-stressed country. “Just like a carbon footprint, a water footprint is also incurred by everybody, as each product we buy or use has a water impact – for example, a hamburger utilises 2 400 litres of water to produce. We need to raise consumer awareness on the water footprint of each individual, which will hopefully result in people acting responsibly.” He points out that South Africa’s water loss is about R7.2-billion a year and according to the United Nations Environment Programme, if current global consumption and production patterns remain the same, with a rising population expected to reach 9.6-billion, the earth will need three planets to sustain its way of life by 2050. “Ninety-eight per cent of all current available water in South Africa is already allocated to users and it is generally accepted that future climate change will reduce the availability of water in South Africa,” Lotz says. He notes that this is especially true for the western part of the country, whereas the eastern part will generally become wetter. “Unfortunately, the increased rainfall in the eastern part of South Africa does not imply that we can easily capture, harness or pump the water to areas where it is more needed,” Lotz notes. Alien invasive plant-clearing projects will significantly assist in increasing the country’s available water, but these projects can unfortunately be very expensive and financially prohibitive for a single landowner to pursue. South Africa’s water infrastructure is also under pressure, as ageing potable water infrastructure leads to a high percentage of water loss during water distribution. “The state of sewage plants is less than desirable and, unfortunately, frequently makes the news because of challenges such as poor maintenance,” he states. Silting in some dams also urgently need attention and maintenance to be able to keep storing water. He says an increase in the water price is one way to fund a lot of the water infrastructure requirements, but could lead to unforeseen consequences, as vulnerable communities could struggle to pay for water. “Nonpayment for water, as is the case for electricity, could lead to a lack of secured revenue. The result is that higher water prices will be of little value if the end-user does not pay. This will lead to an emotional and possible human rights issue if people do not have sufficient access to water,” Lotz points out. He adds that South Africa has more people who require access to water, owing to its developmental needs, as more people migrate to urbanised parts of the country. Lotz says areas, such as Gauteng, need massive amounts of water to be pumped, owing to these areas being geographically elevated and their direct local supply not being able to keep up with demand. Without sufficient electricity supply, he notes, the limited amount of stored water will run out quickly. The implication is that an electricity shortage could negatively impact secured water supply. He cites that the price increases of water will either be gazetted nationally or some municipal guidance will be provided, adding that government needs to increase water efficiency in supply and demand. “The national and municipal water infrastructure spend also needs to be increased and the prohibitive bylaws and legislation needs to be addressed to alleviate possible water shortages,” he concludes Edited by: Samantha Herbst Creamer Media Deputy Editor
Is water shedding next?
We are all too familiar with load shedding and the electricity crisis. Although a nuisance to both industry and private users we have more or less come to accept the inevitability that this will remain a part of our life. But will we be as complacent when it comes to water cuts? Are we heading in the same direction when considering water supply? Is water shedding inevitable and a thing of the near future? Unlike electricity, water security is far more serious from a livelihood, health and socio-economic development point of view. And unlike electricity there is no substitute for water.
Load shedding is predominantly about decaying infrastructure and lack of investment in generating electricity. It is not unreasonable to say that water infrastructure is going pretty much the same route. At strategic level there has been a lot of planning to ensure that South Africa has sufficient water. If it means pumping and piping it to the distribution point to areas that have shortages, it is going to happen. But that is where it stops! At municipal level the infrastructure has been neglected to such an extent that 40% off all water supplied to the Metro’s is being lost due to leaks and illegal use. Listen to the news and you frequently hear how smaller towns have run out of water! Bigger city sections are left without water for hours and even days because of burst pipes. Raw sewerage is flowing into rivers that flow to dams, where cities and town get their water from!
The overall total for non-revenue water could, in fact, reach tens of billions per year. These losses must be addressed. But this is not the only challenge facing the sector. We are heading toward a crisis in terms of water treatment plant operation, maintenance and upgrades. In the water sector, the resource, treatment and distribution components are equally important — if one area is neglected, the entire system is impacted. Much of South Africa’s water infrastructure is in a dilapidated state. The worst off are the treatment plants — especially those for wastewater treatment. This is a source of contamination of the rivers and complicates the overall water treatment processes.
Serious problems have developed with the asbestos and cement water pipes that were laid in the 1940s. Water has started to erode the cement in the pipes. This leads to small municipalities losing, on average, 72.5% of the water pumped, according to a recent survey published by government. An average of 36.8% (1.58 billion cubic metres) of SA’s water pumped by municipalities is lost. This is equivalent to the yearly supply of Rand Water, SA’s largest water utility. Pipes generally have a lifespan of 50 years. There has been very little replacement being done in smaller municipalities; and in Johannesburg, there’s a 10-year backlog.
Water shortages affect every facet of our society. Recently most parts of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape were without water and Rhodes University was at the point of closing down due to health problems. A broken dam pump, which is more that 60 years old, cut off the running water to them. In 2013 towns such as Kimberly, Krugersdorp, Rustenburg, Potchefstroom and Bloemfontein struggled with water shortages. The ongoing protests for service delivery that are sweeping across our country are a testimony to the dire conditions of our water supply. The problem has escalated to civil unrest, which often turns violent and requires police intervention.
On the 15th September 2014 several suburbs in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni experienced water cuts. The situation happened when a power outage at the Eikenhof pumping station meant water could not be pumped into reservoir. It became difficult for the water levels to stabilise during periods of high demand. This resulted in Rand Water being unable to pump water to some of our reservoirs, supplying mainly western and south of Johannesburg, parts of the west rand and Ekurhuleni. The Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality dispatched roving water tankers to all areas experiencing low water pressure and water cuts. Our natural assumption would be to ask why are there no backup generators to keep the water flowing. The logical answer is that there are no funds to finance this strategic water point.
The demand for JoJo tanks has exploded in the past five years as municipality services begin to breakdown. JoJo has now set up eight factories across South Africa to meet the demand. Most municipalities simply do not have the technical knowledge to maintain the infrastructure. Of the 230 municipalities 79 have no civil engineers or technicians and only 45 have civil engineers. There are more civil engineers serving the zoo infrastructure in Auckland, New Zealand than 86% of South African municipalities according to Allyson Lawless, a former president of the SA Institute of Civil Engineering (Saice) and the author of Numbers and Needs – Addressing Imbalances in the Civil Engineering Profession.
The skills crisis is blamed on the massive exodus of municipal engineers over the past 20 years. Out of every seven engineers who worked for municipalities in the 1980s, only one remained, according to Dr Chris Herold, an engineer and owner of Umfula Wempilo Consulting. This was partly due to frustration and disillusionment among municipal engineers over political appointments in management positions with supervision over technical functions. Many engineers emigrated, and the private sector also lured municipal engineers away with big salaries. Fewer and fewer technicians have been trained.
Government has recently launched a strategic integration project specifically to address these delays, accelerate water licenses and build programmes, as well as put better sanitation in place. But about R50 billion must still be found to finance the project, and there are also concerns about whether government has the necessary expertise to carry out its plans. In the water affairs department, where water infrastructure is planned, there are only seven engineers among the 48 senior managers. In May 2013, only 78 of the 280 civil engineering posts in the department were filled, and about 47% of the chief engineers will retire over the next five years, according to figures from Saice.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has said South Africa will experience “great water stress” in the next 15 years, especially in inland cities. South Africa only gets an average of about 520mm of rain each year, compared with 920mm in Malawi, 1 060mm in Kenya and 2 170mm in India.
We can no longer remain in denial. Water shedding is an inevitable reality and we need to prepare for the worst. On the larger scale of things you can implement systems that will reduce your water footprint and demand on the water infrastructure. You can install water saving shower heads, use cistern devices, convert your garden into an indigenous garden, take shorter showers and sweep your drive way instead of washing it down. Install a rain water harvesting system that collects water into tanks during the rainy season. Conserving water also means that you conserve electricity as it takes thousands of megawatts of electricity to bring water from the Lesotho highlands to Johannesburg and surrounding cities and towns.
Ideally though, you would like to own your own water supply system. You would like to have that peace of mind that you will always have water on tap and you no longer need to rely on municipal water. You can also determine the quality of the water you drink. Drilling a borehole is one way of achieving this. A borehole will not only provide water for your garden but also for household use. A borehole is an investment for the future. It adds to the value of your home. Considering current water tariffs your borehole can pay for itself within 3 – 4 years, not taking into account tariff escalations and the fact that there are also sewage charges based on the amount of water that you use. Using a borehole reduces all these costs. It also reduces your impact on the water infrastructure and the energy infrastructure. Not only will you reduce your water footprint but you will also go a long way to reducing your carbon footprint.
The Reserve Bank has warned of austerity measure in 2017. This will mean that funding for an already stressed water and electricity system will be compromised. Less money will be spent on these services while demand will rise exponentially as these measures will lead to greater unemployment and poverty.
The water crisis is not only limited to South Africa. It stretches across the globe. Often it is the underlying cause of wars and conflict particularly in the Middle East. As populations grow, so does the demand for water and sanitation. Millions of people have no access to clean water and sanitation. In developing countries the leading cause of death in children below the age of five is directly attributed to lack of access to clean water and sanitation. In many rural arrears in South Africa and squatter camps the situation is as dire. We can no longer depend on a reliable water supply. We need to act now, reduce our demand on the water infrastructure and secure our water supply.
Water shedding is future reality. Now is the time to secure your water supply needs?
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All you need to know about boreholes
IOL Garden | 24 February 2016
Cape Town – Domestic boreholes are the most recent addition to the growing eco-friendly and energy-efficient property trend.
The trend is predicted to see unprecedented growth as drought continues to plague many parts of the country and a global water crisis threatens.
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Cape Town – 101125 – Signs illustrating the water shortage – A terrible drought has hit the Beauford West area in the Western Cape forcing water restrictions as well as “water shedding”, house holds are without water for 36 hours at a time. Residents have resorted to using bore hole water, as well as using bath water to wash clothes. – Photo: Matthew Jordaan
Internationally, there has been a move towards private water supply and South Africa is no exception. In fact, Dawie Malan, head of strategic stakeholder engagement for Absa Home Loans, recently disclosed to radio 702’s The Money Show that, according to global property trends, alternative energy sources and electricity and water self-sufficiency, such as the use of boreholes, were becoming more important factors than pools or staff accommodation.
Johannesburg Water recently embarked on a city-wide campaign to promote the value of backyard boreholes on properties in the city, saying there were more reasons than before to drill one.
“It is an excellent way to access pure and natural underground water and although initial costs of drilling and installing pipes and pumps may be high, there are many long-term benefits in getting your water straight from the ground,” the utility said, adding that there were few ongoing costs associated with a borehole, provided it was sunk well and properly maintained.
Pam Golding Properties is also noting with interest the growth of the borehole trend throughout the country, and although the drive has not yet reached the stage where boreholes are in greater demand than swimming pools or staff accommodation, agents say this couldchange in the future.
Surina du Toit, Pam Golding Properties’s area manager for Paarl, Franschhoek and Wellington, said she was seeing an increase in boreholes being sunk on residential properties and that, recently, the group sold a plot in Wellington primarily because it had a borehole, leading to a monthly water saving of R3 000.
Carol Reynolds, Pam Golding Properties’s area principal for Durban Coastal, said the branches in the region were seeing more people investigating the option of boreholes because of the water crisis and that, in Ballito, there had been an influx of inquiries due to the water shortages in that region. Some clients in Durban North had installed boreholes for conservation reasons, and water-storage tanks were also popular.
In Bloemfontein, the trend is evident, with Hennie Aucamp, Pam Golding Properties area manager saying: “With the water restrictions in Bloemfontein there has been a definite increase in buyers asking for properties with boreholes. I wouldn’t say boreholes are being favoured over swimming pools, but they have become a good selling feature of a property.”
Hydrogeologist Derek Whitfield, MD at Gauteng’s Environmental Drilling and Remediation Services, said private individuals living in urban areas had been drilling and supplying their own water for many years, with the older homesteads and peri-urban areas initially making use of boreholes.
For the past five years, however, there had been more of a demand from urban homeowners to “get off the grid”, he said.
“We get inquiries pretty much from across (Joburg) and we foresee a steady demand going forward as Joburg Water has recently signed a MOU with the Borehole Water Association of South Africa to promote the use of groundwater in the urban areas of Johannesburg.
“There is also the desire of homeowners to be independent from service suppliers going into the future. Having your own water supply means not only do you have access to good quality water, but that it is not influenced by service disruption and price increases.”
Whitfield said further benefits included increased property value, which could be between R80 000 and R120 000.
However, he warned owners would have to service the filtration and reticulation system “from time to time” and get their water analysed at least once a year.
Whitfield advised homeowners looking at installing boreholes to make use of reputable contractors, such as companies registered with the Borehole Water Association.
“It is not a cheap exercise to have your own water, so you don’t want to ‘skimp’ and take cheap options. They will cost you more in the long run. If you are going to do it, then do it properly,” he said.
Ben Steenkamp, a director at Durban-based T&T Drilling, which specialises in borehole drilling in KZN, Cape Town, Mozambique and Namibia, said about 15 years ago he thought the demand for residential boreholes would slow down. However, he is busier now than ever.
“Obviously with the drought at the moment, there is huge demand for boreholes. But we are also seeing a drop in the water table as a result of the drought. In Harding, we used to dig 40m to 60m for water, but we are now digging 80m to 100m. On the north coast where we once could drill 80m to 120m, we have to now dig 150m.”
Steenkamp said his greatest demand for residential boreholes came from the KZN north coast area of KwaDukuza, whereas a couple of years back residential properties in the Cape Town area kept him busy as residents there struggled with drought-induced water restrictions.
“Many people are putting Jojo tanks in too, which should be a first step,” he said.
Although initial outlay costs were high, Steenkamp said the benefits were worth it.
“Once you have a borehole pump system, you can turn off your municipal water valve and have access to fresh and clean underground water which contains no chemicals.”
Breaking down the process, Steenkamp explained it would take one day for them to drill down to water, another day for tests to be conducted on the water, and a third day to install the pump.
Average costs were about R50 000 for drilling, R12 000 for the laboratory water tests, and R25 000 to R30 000 for the installation of the pump.
Bill Rawson, chairman of the Rawson Property Group, said many homeowners were already “feeling the pinch” in their gardens, with yellow lawns, drooping foliage and pools with low-water levels.
This was making buyers think twice about some homes. But, he added, in every crisis was opportunity and the drought was no exception.
“By adapting to the situation, and installing water-wise solutions in their homes and gardens, there is a good chance that quick-thinking property-owners could increase the resale value of their homes.”
While the cost of water-saving upgrades may not always have a 1:1 return, buyers might see a home with a beautiful garden, in the midst of other homes with dead grass and trees, and decide that a higher asking price is “fair and worthwhile”, he said.
Bonny Fourie, Independent HOME
PICTURES: Derek Whitfield, Environmental Drilling and Remediation Services and J Gey van Pittius, Pump and Irrigation Engineers in Cape Town
5 Steps to Mitigate Water Risk and Manage Water Resources
by Raz Godelnik on Friday, Feb 15th, 2013, triplepundit.com
Last month in Davos the World Economic Forum (WEF) recognized water scarcity as “the second most important risk facing the world in the years ahead.” Yet, the latestMIT/BCG study, shows that in a list of sustainability trends executives find most crucial for their companies in the next 3 years, water scarcity is almost at the bottom of the list.
This is a reflection of the current state of water – it’s one of the main risks for business and might be among the first companies will need to address, but at the same time most businesses don’t have a real sense of urgency about it. At best they acknowledge this risk to some degree or takes some incremental steps to reduce its exposure.
Yet, this sort of response needs to be changed and quickly, explains Ernst & Young (E&Y) in a paper entitled ‘Water resources at the corporate level – moving from a risk-based approach to active management.’ The paper offers key steps that companies should start taking to move to the next level – managing water risks and as well as adopting a much more holistic water management approach.
The conditions that impact water risks are probably well-known to business – from rising population and demand to water quality degradation and extreme weather patterns. What business might be less aware off is the urgency of the situation – according to the Carbon Disclosure Project, “demand for water is projected to outstrip supply by a staggering 40 percent by 2030, and an estimated half the world’s population are likely to live in areas of high water stress by the same year.”
Climate change might make the clock tick even faster for companies. “The impact of changing climate on water availability and quality is in many regions and immediate tangible and local risks,” the Water Environment Federation says on KPMG’s Expect the Unexpected report. It means that it probably won’t take too much time before companies start facing one or more of the risks that are associated with water scarcity: strategic, compliance, operational, financial and reputational. Any combination of these risks can become a substantial threat to the continuation of business.
Yet, at least for now, it doesn’t seem like most companies are too worried about it (see for example the ranking of water on the MIT/BCG study list of crucial trends). Even investors don’t seem to be worried for now – a 2011 E&Y/GreenBiz study found that water was ranked in the 10th place among topics that CEOs are asked about by their investors and shareholders.
There are various reasons why business doesn’t address water scarcity so far as an urgent matter (although we should say that water-intensive industries are somewhat more aware than others), namely, costs and regulations have not changed substantially. Yet, most businesses are vulnerable to water risks whether they see it or not. Therefore it doesn’t hurt to look at the five steps E&Y offers, aiming to mitigate water risk and to better manage the water resources:
- Develop a corporate water policy: This should be an organization-wide, publicly available policy on water that sets out clear goals and guidelines for action.
- Understand the current state of water risks at the watershed level:It is important to understand the risks relevant to specific watersheds, categorize them and measure their potential impacts on operations.
- Understand the business’s water footprint, both locally and across the value chain:This is the best way to take a holistic view of water use and discharge impacting the company’s products or operations.
- Engage internally at the facility or corporate level and externally with local stakeholders to evaluate the risks and impacts: Applying innovative technologies and educating one’s own facilities are key to realizing efficiencies and mitigating risks.
- Report externally and seek independent assurance:Transparent reporting enhances a business’s ability to understand water risks, impacts and opportunities.
Other recommendations E&Y includes in the paper are: make the business case to invest in water management, think long-term, move beyond compliance-oriented strategies on water management and rigorously measure and manage data specific to water use, quality, discharge in own facilities and across the supply chain.
The bottom line is very clear here – first, companies will need to adopt a more holistic water management approach. Second, there’s going to be a need in a collaborative effort that will include companies, local governments, NGOs and other stakeholders as no company can do it all alone.
It will be interesting to see when companies start taking this advice more seriously. It looks like there’s a good chance that those who will delay their preparations on this issue and won’t do it in a strategically manner will be at a disadvantage eventually. The only question is how much time it will take business to understand it.