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The water in our rivers

Research completed utilising advanced satellites in 2015/2016 showed that nearly 60% of the world’s largest and most important aquifers are severely water stressed. The trends we see with population growth and increasing urbanisation is likely to add even more pressure on the availability of this finite resource.

South Africa is highly aware of the pending disaster in the City of Cape Town with their acute water shortages due to the prolonged drought. There is some reprieve with day Zero being pushed back to June, but rain, and lots of it, are the order of the day for the Mother City.

The availability of water is having an impact on migration patterns because where there is no water, there is often tension. A simple example would be to analyse how many people have put on hold their plans to “semigrate” to the Western Cape as a result of the crisis. Cape Town’s problems are small in comparison to other areas of the world. We tend to forget too quickly about Syria’s once-thriving agricultural industry that has been destroyed by a dam that was constructed in Turkey on a river that flowed through and fed both countries. Syria is a hotspot for conflict today. We are left to wonder what impact the scarcity of water has played in all of this.

Today there are many advocates of the rights of rivers. India has recently given the Ganges river the same rights as a living person in order to protect it and the precious waters that flow through the land supporting industry. Rivers need protection so that they can flow freely and be kept clean. The banks of the river must be green and strong to prevent soil erosion and silting up.

There are water solutions outside of what Government is doing in areas where water supplies are at a critical low. There is something that every person can do to make a difference. We see this happening in Cape Town with people maximising reuse opportunities for their water:

  • People are taking short showers with a bucket in the shower that collects water to be used for toilet flushing.
  • Grey water is rerouted for irrigation of gardens.
  • Rainwater harvesting tanks are popping up everywhere.
  • Institutions and businesses are asking how to treat their sewage on-site and reuse it.
From low flow shower heads and taps to turning the water off when you brush your teeth. Every drop counts.