What Have Other Countries Done In Times Of Drought?

As the Western Cape faces an escalating water crisis, we have a look at what other countries have done to overcome droughts.
Sherryn de Vos
2017-05-06
The current water crisis in the Western Cape seems to have hit critical levels. With little rain over the last few months, dam levels are in single figures. With the current 3B water restrictions, residents are finding themselves having to cut back completely when using water. In an attempt to prompt people to save water, people are being encouraged to make use of grey water and re-use water. The City of Cape Town has moved to publicly name and shame people who are wasting water. The government will soon be needing to take some more drastic action as the levels reach critical levels. We have taken a look at what other countries have done in times of water crisis. California, USA, was a pertinent case study. Its four-year drought pushed for the state to come up with water alternatives.

Desalination

This is the process that sea water goes through to be treated. In essence, the salt is removed from the water through a treatment process. Currently, the plant in San Diego County is the largest in the western Hemisphere, coming in at a cost of $1 billion. Studies have been done on constructing a plant in South Africa. The costs, however, are standing in the way of this being approved. A proposed 450-megalitre-a-day desalination plant would cost R16.5 billion, excluding VAT, but including design and construction supervision costs. The estimated operating cost of the plant is R1.2 billion a year, excluding VAT. It will also put more strain on the already overburdened power grid.

Fog Catchers

Fog catchers are huge nets that simply catch fog that rolls in. One of the most successful sites is in Chile, where dense fog can be captured and used. A Columbia University project uses two to 100 fog collectors. Depending on the location of the net, each panel can produce 150 to 750 litres of fresh water, per day, during the foggy season. They are currently being tested in South Africa, and are also used in countries like Chile, Peru, Ghana, Eritrea and California.
CLICK  BELOW to find out just how much water you use per day.  

Ground Water Drilling

Borehole drilling has become a standard practice in South Africa, as well as all over the world. Drilling for water is very similar to drilling for oil. Vast pockets of water exist underground. They are created from surface water from rain, streams, and lakes that slowly trickle through into the underground reservoirs. The problem is, when you drain water out of the earth, it is essentially like sucking air out of a balloon. The other problem is that it is largely unregulated. There are no restrictions or measures to control the amount being removed.

Atmospheric Water Generation

This is the process that brags to “squeeze water out of thin air”. Unlike the Chilean system that relies mainly on fog, this can extract water out of any climate. One explanation, from Aqua Sciences, describes the process as:
“Systems that collect and dispense hundreds to thousands of gallons of water daily by capturing and processing naturally occurring water molecules from the air.”
South African company, Cirrus, goes on to describe two difference processes.
"There are two main ways that one can get liquid water from the atmosphere. The first uses desiccant technology, where a material absorbs moisture from the air. The second, which Cirrus employs, uses cooling condensation technology, which apparently uses less energy." CLICK BELOW to read about how Cape Town could start paying more for water and electricity!

Engineering Rain

This is one of the most talked about technologies, globally, when it comes to water. The foundation of the science is to boost precipitation from 50% to 400% and, literally, force it to rain. This is done using ionisation technology. A network of towers, located around one central, 100-foot tower, induces rain within a 15-mile radius, in the same way it naturally occurs.

Wastewater Recycling

Most people simply cannot get over the “ick” factor here. Wastewater is usually treated and pumped back into the sea. But, experts state that it can be used in day-to-day life. Like for flushing toilets, irrigation, and groundwater replenishment. California, in particular, slackened its views on using the water during the drought and started making use of the billions of gallons of water that was being pumped back into the sea. South Africa seems to be somewhat behind the world in treating waste water. Treatment plants have been shamed regularly for pumping raw sewerage back into rivers and oceans over the years.