WISA Western Cape Branch supports the Cape Peninsula Paddle

WISA Western Cape Branch supports the Cape Peninsula Paddle

The Peninsula Paddle took place on 4 October 2020.This year, UCT’s Future Water Institute, in partnership with Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET), Friends of the Liesbeek, Khayelitsha Canoe Club, Zandvlei Trust, WISA and the City of Cape Town, continued to raise awareness of the plight of the Cape’s waterways calling citizens of Cape Town to take notice and change their habits. Founded in 2010, the Peninsula Paddle began as a challenge between four friends to see if they could paddle from Muizenberg to Milnerton through the city’s urban waterways. This proved to be a difficult task as they often found their way blocked by solid waste or overgrown weeds. Through this initial paddle, they coined the phrase “the health of the city is seen in its waterways”. There are major challenges at the heart of the litter problem which will not be solved overnight, or even by a decade long paddle, but it’s a start. With such a disconnect between citizens of Cape Town and their environment little thought is given to the consequences of litter and other waste, and therein lies the problem. It is hoped that with raising awareness around the Peninsula Paddle and spreading the message, we can really show people what beautiful assets urban rivers can be and how they can benefit every single citizen of Cape Town and not just be a conduit for waste and pollution. Dr Kevin Winter has a dream, “Imagine a city where citizens could safely traverse its waterways in clean water and where the surrounding rivers and canalised banks offer safe, pleasant public spaces”. The route for the Peninsula…
WISA2020 is going 100% virtual and experts are ready to answer urgent questions about water sustainability in southern Africa

WISA2020 is going 100% virtual and experts are ready to answer urgent questions about water sustainability in southern Africa

Will we ever face water shedding in southern Africa? Can we trust the quality of our water? Are our dams full enough to see us through this pandemic and any other future unprecedented global moment which might bring more never-before-seen challenges? The major drought southern Africa endured in recent years has made water an urgent topic of conversation at dinner tables and on social media. After all, water is even more critical to our health and wellbeing than power… that other critical topic. WISA2020, the Water Institute of Southern Africa’s Biennial Conference and Exhibition – which will be a 100% virtual conference this year – will be held from 7-11 December. This is the region’s biggest water sector event and WISA will be bringing leaders, professionals, researchers and other stakeholders together to thrash out vital issues in the field and provide ideas, solutions and new ways of thinking about how to answer many burning questions around water. The theme of the conference reflects a universal interest and an urgent need for engagement in water matters: “#AllHandsOnDeck”. All of us, whoever we are, share a need for “a reliable, clean supply of water and sanitation systems that work,” says Dr Marlene van der Merwe-Botha, Chair of WISA2020’s Technical Committee and past-president of WISA. “The intention of our theme is to place the emphasis on doing, on action, on implementation. We want to bring together all the actors in the water sector and related sectors, to engage outside of their boundaries but within a connected space, to ensure we create a sustainable water service and water future for South and southern Africa.”…
WISA calls for reinstatement of the Green drop, Blue drop and No drop certification programmes for the safe supply of water and disposal of wastewater

WISA calls for reinstatement of the Green drop, Blue drop and No drop certification programmes for the safe supply of water and disposal of wastewater

The National Water and Sanitation Master Plan states that the many failing water and wastewater treatment works are of great concern for public health and safety. WISA calls for the reinstatement of the highly successful incentive-based improvement programme which was curtailed a few years ago. Of over 1150 municipal wastewater treatment works in South Africa, around 56% are in poor or critical condition and in need of both rehabilitation and the services of skilled staff such as qualified process controllers. Of over 960 water treatment works, 44% are likewise in a poor or critical condition. In 2008, the Department of Water and Sanitation (then the Department of Water Affairs) introduced the Blue Drop and Green Drop certification programmes. These measured the most important indicators for sustainable and safe water and wastewater service delivery, such as: management commitment; safety and risk planning and mitigation; process management; quality compliance; staff qualifications; and adequate budgets. The goal of the Blue Drop programme was compliance of water supply systems with the national Drinking Water Quality Standards, while the goal of the Green Drop was compliance of wastewater treatment works with the national Wastewater Discharge Standards. The incentive-based Blue Drop and Green Drop programmes aimed to raise the awareness of municipalities of good practice in water supply and wastewater treatment. They led directly to many municipalities investing in their water and sanitation staff and infrastructure, and thereby improving their performance. The programmes also generated a wealth of data which allowed the Department and the water and sanitation sector at large to plan and manage the water value chain more effectively. The first Blue Drop and…
Meeting the water challenges of a growing population

Meeting the water challenges of a growing population

One of the most important issues facing southern Africa is the challenge of managing water in a way that ensures that our growing urban population can live in cities that are sustainable and resilient. Achieving this is not easy. The right to water is mandated in our Constitution, but the reality is that water security is not guaranteed for all people in Southern Africa. It is true that great strides have been made but our current water usage already exceeds reliable yield and as many as 5% of the population do not have access to basic water services. Improved sanitation is still a challenge in many areas. Wastewater treatment frequently falls below international effluent standards. Without exception, our region is characterised by frequent droughts, floods and water insecurity which is exacerbated by inadequate water sector maintenance and investment; a deficit between demand for potable water and supply due to population growth particularly in the urban areas; deteriorating water quality; and a shortage of qualified water engineers in the areas where they are needed most. In South Africa it is estimated that the gap between supply and demand of water could be as high as 17% by 2030. Effective water management requires that interrelated factors and needs are considered. Difficult choices have to be made and conflicting needs must be catered for as much as possible. In order to make these choices, stakeholders and role players need a space for interactive consultation. The Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA) is unique in that it provides a home for the many role players in the sector, from local government to academic researchers,…
Covid-19:  The risk the pandemic poses to SA’s water supply

Covid-19: The risk the pandemic poses to SA’s water supply

Household water supplies may fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic – if users can no longer pay their bills, and municipalities’ revenue streams dry up. “In the short term there will still be water for people to wash their hands. However, the long term consequences could be devastating if municipalities are not able to fund their ongoing operations while funds for the President’s Infrastructure Investment initiative will also be affected,” says Mike Muller, Chair of the Technical Subcommittee for the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA). As the lockdown impacts individuals and companies across the spectrum, prompting job losses and reduced working hours, the Water Institute of South Africa (WISA) warns that proactive interventions to address “the elephant in the room” are already overdue. “If people are faced with the choice of paying their rates or feeding their children, they are going to choose the latter. And this non-payment, in a scenario already under serious financial pressure, could have a devastating effect on the general cash standing of municipalities,” Dan Naidoo, WISA non-executive director, cautioned at a WISA Board meeting held online recently. To clarify the depth of the negative knock-on effect, he points out that local government is the main driver of South Africa’s economy. “Service delivery, including the provision of water, is the cornerstone of all economies. Non-payment affects the entire value chain upstream, and if our five big metros are already reporting tough times, how can we expect the smaller, poorer municipalities to survive?” Naidoo made reference to reports that the City of Cape Town had recorded R900 million in outstanding rates and service payments in April…
Covid-19 and the provision of water and sanitation services to informal settlements

Covid-19 and the provision of water and sanitation services to informal settlements

Recently, as a result of the Covid19 pandemic, there has been a recognition in South Africa of the importance of access to water and sanitation for residents living in informal settlements, together with hygiene education. However the solutions adopted have been reactive to date, contradict stated government policy when it comes to both sanitation and water, and are not sustainable. The water and sanitation solutions currently adopted in South Africa make use of fixed water tanks that are filled by tankers and provide sanitation using communal chemical toilets. Ironically, while bucket toilets provided by the public sector are regarded as an unacceptable sanitation option, these chemical toilets, which are also a container based solution (read bucket system) usually provided by the private sector, are being rolled out at scale. And, while bucket toilets are usually used by only one household, chemical toilets are often shared by as many as 100 households. Meanwhile, water is being supplied by tanker-trucks and either collected directly by households who usually join crowded queues in the road, or from plastic tanks which see similar crowds when they are filled. These supplies often cost up to twenty times more than water from a piped network and rarely manage to deliver the minimum basic supply of 25 litres per person per day. Worse, the use of water tankers is often tainted by corruption and also acts of vandalism by the entrenched tanker mafia that exist in some informal settlements. Ironically, in many of the communities concerned, there is water supply infrastructure close by. But communities are either not connected or the supplies no longer work. These problems…
Water Sector Heroes: Umgeni Water

Water Sector Heroes: Umgeni Water

These are some of the UNSUNG HEROES at Umgeni Water during this COVID-19 pandemic period. They leave the safety of their homes and sacrifice their time with their families to ensure continued potable supply of water to eThekwini Water and Sanitation who then supply their consumers via integrated networks of bulk pipelines and reservoirs and WE SALUTE THEM. We take this opportunity to thank especially the women across all sites that ensure continued operation and maintenance of waterworks and wastewater works whilst trying to balance the high demands of their homes during this crisis period. Lorato Oliphant, Thomas Nzama, Elliot Mbonambi, Nombuso Mkhize, Bongani Hlatshwayo are a few of the staff that manage Maphephetheni Waterworks, a 5Ml/day (Megalitre per day) plant located in Kwa-Ngcolosi (Inanda), treating water from Nagle Dam and supplies the area of Maphephetheni. Umgeni Water is a State-Owned Entity (SOE), established in 1974, to provide water services – water supply and sanitation services – to other water services institutions in its service area. The primary activities of Umgeni Water, as pronounced in section 29 of the Water Services Act, are to provide water services (water supply and sanitation services) to other water services institutions in its service area.
Water Sector Heroes: A day in the life of lockdown essential worker Martin Taylor

Water Sector Heroes: A day in the life of lockdown essential worker Martin Taylor

Thank you Martin Taylor for being a Water Sector Hero! Intro: Martin Taylor is an experienced superintendent with more than 30 years in the water treatment industry. He manages a number of plants in the Gansbaai area. He is very dedicated to his role and frequently visits and encourages other team members. Martin knows the area well and is also aware of the various plants and their operational conditions. He plays an integral part in fast communication to deliver service of a high standard to the community and our client. Martin also managed and overseen the emergency repair of the Kraaibosch dam intake amid lock down conditions. Martin tells us about his thoughts and experiences during the lockdown: A Typical Day at Work During the “Lockdown” It is Easter weekend. (the “lockdown is already 15 days old) Four days at home. This is usually a welcome break and looked forward to too with anticipation. But somehow this year it’s different. You manage to laze away the four days or keep yourself occupied in one way or another. With bitter / sweet anxiousness you actually can’t wait to get back to work on Tuesday. You somehow feel priviledged that you can leave the house. So you leave for the office. After being stopped in a roadblock, you present your necessary travel permit and you are allowed to proceed. You arrive at the office. The mood of your workmates is rather somber. We all look rather comical with our facemasks on, surgical gloves and bottles of sanitizers sticking out of our pockets. To the point where you want to laugh at each other but…
Water Sector Heroes: A day in the life of lockdown essential worker Martin Taylor

Water Sector Heroes: A day in the life of Mandla Baloi during lockdown

Thank you Mandla for being a Water Sector Hero! Intro: Mandla Baloi is a young professional chemical engineer that currently holds the position of superintendent at two key waste water treatment plants in the Overstrand. He likes to lead by example and this is evident in the performance of his teams. Mandla has an affinity for detail and is always aware of all operational and maintenance aspects. He recently overseen the recommissioning of a clarifier on the Hermanus waste water plant amid lockdown also showing his dedication to add value even during lockdown conditions. Mandla shares with us what his essential work in lockdown includes: I am superintendent in waste water treatment works. I am on duty on normal working hours and on standby during this lockdown. I ensure that employees are all in good health and have surplus of detergents, sanitisers, masks and cloves. I maintain the continuous operation of the plant within a dynamic team of quality, procurement, safety, security, maintenance and human resource. I ensure that the teams are motivated to perform duties such as admin, compliance, optimisation and sludge management during this epidemic.  I don’t limit my daily duties to management level but also assist in general duties for the better off the plant and employee.  – Mandla Baloi – Submission by Ruth Weideman