Water, Sewage & Effluent May June 2019 - Page 3

When good is good enough S Subscribe to WSE online www.waterafrica.co.za outh Africa’s scarce fresh water is decreasing in quality because of an increase in pollution and the destruction of river catchments caused by urbanisation, deforestation, damming of rivers, destruction of wetlands, industry, mining, agriculture, energy use and accidental water pollution. As our population increases, there is an increase in pollution and catchment destruction. On page 21 of this issue, read about how the aliens have truly invaded, with South African water experts expressing their concerns at how alien plants are threatening to use up half of the inflows into two important dams in South Africa. Up to 50% of the annual inflows into two main dams in the Western Cape and Limpopo could be used up by alien plants over the next 45 years if they are left uncleared. Read how local water experts’ recent research paper reveals the impact of failing to control invasive alien plants on our future water supply. Our existing infrastructure is also not in good shape. On page 10, Helgard Muller questions the safety of our drinking water; he says it’s not possible for the DWS to issue a general statement stating that all water in South Africa is safe to drink – the DWS is misleading South Africans. The South African system is flawed as the Blue Drop regulatory system for drinking water quality has ground to a halt as published reports have been scarce since 2014. As many municipalities do not supply DWS with data, there is no clear national perspective, which leaves municipal drinking water systems unregulated and the public in the dark. So, what do we make of this? Our catchment areas are under threat and our existing (old) infrastructure, monitoring and maintenance systems are a bit dodgy or, at least, unregulated. Quite simply, we can’t afford to build more dams and water transfer schemes as they cost huge amounts of money. Not only that: building new water systems in South Africa is often a thankless task. There’s so much procurement red tape to get tangled up in and many engineers just want to get the job done; so, operation and maintenance ranks low on their to-do lists. Industry expert Mike Muller has some pertinent and hard-hitting things to say about keeping things simple on page 28. His view about water treatment is that building simple and robust equipment will work better and last longer. And certainly, in water treatment generally and disinfection in particular, there are many alternatives. But in South Africa, at the current state of our water infrastructure, we can’t afford to allow the best to be the enemy of the good. There comes a time when good is good enough. I hope you find this issue insightful, informative and interesting and if you have any comments, views or news relating to the water space that you’d like to share, please email me at: tarren@interactmedia.co.za.  Water Sewage & Effluent May/June 2019 1