The Western Cape is facing severe challenges with a once in a hundred years drought. We are, however, not alone in facing water challenges. The drought spreading across southern Europe has fuelled wildfires in Italy and Spain. In America, Texas and California have also struggled under multi-year droughts that took them years to recover from.
Global water saving initiatives that work
What is the answer to reducing our planet’s water footprint? In Australia, the long-term strategy includes an agricultural shift to less water-intensive crops as globally the majority of water is used in the production of food sources. Most farmers around the world use flood irrigation where high volumes of water go to waste. As a conservation effort, the agrarian sector in some parts is moving towards drip irrigation developed by Israel decades ago. On average, drip irrigation saves about 50 percent of the water used in flood irrigation. But the water savings is not the only benefit. The yield from crops watered with drip irrigation is actually higher.
The advantage of water saving technology
Technology can clearly play a major role in helping countries save water. In Los Angeles, desalination, although costly, is a solution implemented by several countries, including South Africa. In Israel, 85% of the wastewater is recycled. Sewage pipes are directed to treatment facilities where high-tech microorganisms digest the organic material and purify the water. The water goes through multiple levels of cleaning and is brought back up to be used for irrigation, showers and even potable water. This also has the benefit that Israel’s rivers are cleaner and the pollution levels of the Mediterranean Sea have been significantly reduced. In California, the federal government promulgated strict legislation on water conservation in the building industry, with hefty fines for non-compliance.
Water security is a global responsibility
Many countries have achieved significant and innovative successes in improving their countries’ water security. The real challenge, however, remains to change the individual’s attitude to regard water as a precious, finite source. If we cannot significantly change awareness of the individuals of our nation then 12 April 2018, Day 0 for Cape Town, will soon become a reality for all of us.