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Dry cities: What can we learn from Cape Town's drought?

Apr 22, 2018, 17:50 PM by User Not Found

Cape Town has been in drought since 2015. Home to an estimated 3.78 million people, the city is approaching Day Zero, wherein the taps are turned off and residents will begin to lineup for rationed amounts of imported water. The good news is that Day Zero was originally scheduled for April 12, 2018 - however, due to restrictions put in place by South Africa's Department of Water Affairs, Day Zero has been pushed back, now estimated to find a date in early 2019.

While the people of Cape Town are stringently watching their water consumption, and this in turn has stretched out the remaining supply, the problem is no less severe. The truth is, if we as humans don't learn to manage our resources more efficiently, other parts of the globe could be faced with similar risks. So what can we learn from Cape Town, and how can we ensure that there's always enough drinking water to go round?

Diversify our water sources

After Australia's millennium drought, close to one-third of the homeowners in Victoria installed auxiliary water tanks. The idea behind this, according to Dr Seona Candy of The University of Melbourne, is reducing the distance between between collecting and using water. A rainwater tank is a decentralised source of water, and relieves stresses placed on the existing public infrastructure. Furthermore, Dr Candy states that looking forward, no city should rely on a sole reservoir.

How can wastewater be effectively recylced? Isn't it mind boggling that in many established communities we are flushing our toilets with perfectly good drinking water?

Make better use of our water

Making the case that every household can make a difference, Dr Meenakshi Arora, also of The University of Melbourne, states that houses should have two streams of water supply. The first should be used for drinking, cooking and showering, while the second should be used for toilet flushing, laundry and garden irrigation. The difference in the two streams comes from how they are collected. The former obviously fresh, clean water piped in, while the second could be rain water, storm water, or recycled wastewater.

Build recycling and desalination plants

Treatment of wastewater and desalination of seawater are very different processes, but the core concept behind them is the same: Taking undrinkable water and rendering it safe for human consumption. We at Webforge have spoken before about the engineering firm CH2M who have developed a fool-proof system to recycle wastewater and make it drinkable. While their solution may not be ready to be rolled out internationally, the process used could change the world. Desalination on the other hand requires a lot of energy, but plants could work wonders for coastal cities like Cape Town that are experiencing drought.

Webforge don't claim to have all the answers. But what we do have is efficient materials and systems for treatment plants. We may be a long way off solving the global water crisis, but we're proud to be contributing where we can. Contact us now for more information. 

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