DO WE HAVE ENOUGH FRESHWATER?
Tony Robinson looks at the economics of water from the sea and ask whether desalination would be viable in South Africa, since it is quite successful in other countries. According to him, desalination is no the panacea to South Africa’s water shortages but it will provide a security of supply in times of need. The technology is available and several other countries and islands have employ this processes since most of these countries and islands don’t have the benefits of mountainous catchment areas, rivers and dams in place to get their freshwater. According Robinson (2006) about 80 % of all salt removing processes is happening in the Middle East, where water production is coupled with the power stations. This process in Middle East involves the usages of gas, oil and nuclear power to boil the sea water, where it condensed for drinking water. The Europeans, Americans and Aussies make use of reverse osmosis, which is the application of pressure to separate the salt and the water. This method or a simple version of this method have been in place since 1881 on the island of Malta and have supplied the people and its tourist booming industry (Robinson 2006).
So why don’t we implement such programmes? The reasons according Tim Robinson is that our dam water is cheap and it provide little motivation to save water. He say that only 10 % of this water are recycled while the other 90% that are treated just run into our oceans. Only 2% are used for drinking, cooking and washing of hands purposes while approximately 35% and 20% are used on baths, showers and garden respectively.
If the government can encourage its people and industries to save more than the current percentage, and not just when there is a water crisis, this province will not be surprised when human-induced climatic conditions take its toll.
Reference:Robinson T. 2006. Sweet water from the sea. Progress Magazine. p 34 -37
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