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Wastewater could be key to tackling Africa’s growing water scarcity

This year, the globally celebrated day is based on the theme of wastewater in an effort to draw closer attention to reducing and reusing wastewater, recognising that safely managed wastewater provides an affordable and sustainable source of water and in some cases energy.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has also dedicated the entire week (17-23 March), to National Water Week, to reiterate the value of water and the need for its sustainable management, especially in light of the country’s ongoing drought.

African water and wastewater solutions company Talbot & Talbot believe sustainable water solutions are possible through improved water management.

The company said the design, construction and operation of its water and wastewater treatment plants help facilitate these sustainable solutions.

SA has made progress, but it’s not enough

The South African Health Review 2016 highlights the country’s significant progress regarding access to water for all, with virtually all urban households and most rural households having access to piped water. However water remains an alarmingly limited resource.

Talbot & Talbot said that increasing populations and a growing industry place pressure on catchments in South Africa that can’t keep up with the demand.

“The catchments in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Gauteng and Nelson Mandela Bay are highly stressed,” the company said. “Despite planned strategic initiatives by the DWS, water supply deficits are projected.”

It added that further challenges for the country include the large proportion of the population that is already vulnerable to waterborne diseases due to a lack of water services or intermittent access to water.

Local and global input is needed

Talbot & Talbot said that beyond the African experience, it is evident that on a global scale a clear strategy and action plan is required to address the growing water concern.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a UN-initiative launched in 2015 recognises the crucial role clean, safe water plays in eradicating extreme poverty, improving food security, livelihood choices and educational opportunities. It includes ensuring access to water and sanitation for all as a key goal to reach by 2030 and places specific emphasis on improved wastewater management.

The United Nations’ flagship report on water, the World Water Development Report (WWDR), is published each year with a renewed focus and strategy on a particular water issue. The 2017 report, “Wastewater: The untapped resource” will be launched in Durban today and is at the core of World Water Day’s theme.

Wastewater: the unsung hero

In the face of growing concerns regarding climate change, the need to meet the escalating demand and efforts towards reaching the SDGs, requires innovative approaches to wastewater management and water recovery...


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