http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 14.87Change: 0.01
R/$ = 13.30Change: 0.00
Au 1133.54 $/ozChange: -1.31
Pt 1018.00 $/ozChange: -2.00
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Jun 01, 2012

Sustainability should be focus of water management

Back
SRK Consulting partner Dr Johanita Kotze discusses the state of water management in South Africa. Camerawork: Nicholas Boyd. Editing: Darlene Creamer. Recorded: 04.05.2012
 
 
 
Engineering|Gold|Africa|AMD|CoAL|Consulting|Environment|Flow|Gas|Industrial|Mining|PROJECT|Projects|Resources|SRK Consulting|SRK-Consulting|Sustainable|Systems|Waste|Water|Africa|South Africa|Chemicals|Ecological Systems|Energy|Flow|Oil And Gas|Scientific Technology|Solutions|Sustainable Solutions|Systems|Underground Water Systems|Consulting Engineers|Environmental|Johanita Kotze|Waste|Bearing|Operations|Scientific Technology
Engineering|Gold|Africa|CoAL|Consulting|Environment|Flow|Gas|Industrial|Mining|PROJECT|Projects|Resources|SRK-Consulting|Sustainable|Systems|Waste|Water|Africa||Energy|Flow|Oil And Gas|Solutions|Systems||Consulting Engineers|Environmental|Waste|Bearing|Operations|
engineering|gold|africa-company|amd|coal|consulting-company|environment|flow-company|gas|industrial|mining|project|projects|resources|srk-consulting|srk-consulting-company|sustainable|systems-company|waste-company|water|africa|south-africa|chemicals|ecological-systems|energy|flow-industry-term|oil-and-gas|scientific-technology|solutions|sustainable-solutions|systems|underground-water-systems|consulting-engineers|environmental|johanita-kotze|waste|bearing|operations|scientific-technology-technology
© Reuse this



As a result of complex legal require- ments, most South African com- panies, such as those in the chemicals, oil and gas, mining and extractive industries, are following a tick-box approach to complying with environ- mental management standards, as well as legal, water use licence and other corporate requirements, says consulting engineers and scientists SRK Consulting partner Dr Johanita Kotze.

“In this quest to comply with legal and other requirements, the opportunity to ensure sustainable water management by understanding an operation’s water and salt balances (water footprint) and the risks posed by activities to the receiving environment throughout the entire operation life cycle is missed.

“Process, and not understanding the qualification or quantification of risks, is driving action,” she tells Engineering News.

Kotze adds that, in terms of water management, the focus should be on sustain- ability and, hence, understanding closure risks throughout the operation life cycle.

Although most operations provide for a closure fund for site rehabilitation once operations stop, this fund seldom recognises what the accurate closure risks and costs are in terms of groundwater cleanup and restoration of the ecological systems affected by operations, she says.

Groundwater remediation is one of the most expensive procedures a company can undertake as the water is under- ground, making it difficult to determine the quantity and quality, and the cleanup target.

This is also part of what led to South Africa’s acid mine drainage (AMD) problems. “In the past, companies were mining without taking responsibility for the effects on the ecosystem or taking into account the regional water balance and quality.”

Sustainable water management includes a detailed assessment of salt and water balances for the full life cycle of an operation. The water balance should be zero, ensuring that the footprint of today’s activities do not hinder future generations from enjoying a similar or better quality of life. As water is a nonrenewable, scarce resource, water management plays a significant part in this process, she explains.

The scientific technology and tools to ensure better planning in the future are in place; however, the institutional and governmental frameworks need to focus on ensuring more competent persons are responsible for implementing legislation, asserts Kotze.

“Also, if we change our emphasis from purely meeting compliance to ensuring sustainable water use and project closure, risks will be managed more effectively.”

Water Disclosure and Assurance
Meanwhile, Kotze says water disclosure is becoming an important factor for investors as it is considered a meaningful way for companies to disclose water use, demand and discharge. It has the potential to align legal requirements and company policy while, at the same time, highlighting potential water risks.

Companies are generally doing well in disclosing their blue water, which is clean water used by the operation, and they have a fairly good idea of the amount of grey water produced, although it is not always declared, she says.

“However, the most expensive part companies tend to overlook is the impact of grey water on the country’s green water – the water in the ecosystem. This is commonly represented by negatively impacted groundwater affecting the quality of the base flow to rivers and underground water systems,” she explains.

It often appears that government allows new projects to go ahead without debating all the possible water challenges first.

“Sustainability of projects is not taken into account. There is a failure to keep in mind where the water comes from and if it will still be available in a few years’ time, [bearing in mind] the increase in multiple users over time or prolonged droughts,” she states.

In most cases companies take the lead in assuring water resources for their opera- tions. Kotze believes there is an opportunity for government to play a much bigger role here. “If government had a specialist centre to advise companies on water-related challenges on a regional and national scale, it would enable companies to find more sustainable solutions quicker.”

Legislation
Since the new Water Act was implemented in 1998, South Africa has embarked on a dynamic path to rethink the value and management of water, but the country still has a long way to go, especially in terms of policies, says Kotze.

“The legal guidelines are in place, but are not enforced as well as they could be, which leads to people taking water for granted.”

Meanwhile, delays in the implementation of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act may also provide challenges.

“Some companies are doing what is right owing to pressure from their shareholders, while others just choose the cheapest solution, or get rid of the waste and effluent in a hole in the backyard or in the nearest water course,” she points out.

Further, she believes there is room for government to make implementation of legislation easier and more practical. “Currently, approval of three or four government departments, or institutions, is required for authorisation of a new mining project,” she points out.

Optimisation of Water Resources
“In South Africa, we tend to dwell on isolated aspects of water management that concern us, overlooking the big picture that could provide the necessary solutions,” says Kotze. In particular, groundwater aspects do not bear the same importance as bulk water projects focusing mostly on surface water.

Coal reserves are located in the Waterberg area in Limpopo, which is a water-scarce area. “However, mining rights are still being approved without the assurance of water supply for those projects,” she says. There is a risk that during prolonged droughts, the cumulative impacts of water users on limited resources could lead to material business risks.

Meanwhile, in Gauteng, there is excess water and the issues associated with AMD, which has resulted in an emotional debate driven by activists.

More recently, the issue of fracking in the water-scarce Karoo, which, even though it may have economic and energy supply benefits, might have a significant impact on the area’s underground water supply.

“We have three different situations in three different provinces. However, if water was truly managed nationally and sustain- ability was the driving force, we would notice that excess water in one province could hold solutions for water shortages faced in other areas,” she explains.

“This calls for a national approach to water management,” Kotze says.
The question is: who pays the bill for the pipeline and why is money the biggest consideration in a water-scarce country for a nonrenewable resource?

In addition, a big issue associated with AMD is often overlooked, Kotze adds, noting the risks posed by the formation of sinkholes associated with rewatering of dolomite.

“During mining, the Witwatersrand gold mines are dewatered, which causes the dolomite rocks to become dry. When the water level rises again and these rocks become wet, the stability of the rocks is of great concern,” she says.

“The excess AMD water from the Witwatersrand mines should be pumped, treated and piped to water-scarce areas where it can be reused for industrial pur- poses or drinking water to stimulate economic growth while, at the same time, preventing the formation of sinkholes” she says.

“As long as water is perceived as a cheap resource – bulk water supply projects will not be sustainable. We need to curb demand and prevent quality impacts,” Kotze concludes.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Water Engineering and Infrastructure News
IRRIGATION Botswana plans to use some of the water from the Zambezi river for agriculture
The Botswana government is accelerating construction of a 16-billion pula ($1.6-billion) pipeline meant to carry water from the Zambezi river to the south of Botswana, as the government wants to complete the project in seven years. The negotiations, and other...
ONGOING WATER SUPPLY Water services authorities must ensure that when water services are interrupted for more than 24 hours, consumers have access to alternative water services
Regular protests by residents demanding adequate water supply proves that many South Africans are subjected to interrupted and inadequate safe drinking water supply, says Unilever Centre for Environmental Water Quality director and Rhodes University professor Tally...
EXTENDED SUPPLY To accommodate future water needs, the Otjimbingwe piped water project is designed to have the capacity to supply neighbouring resettlement farms, as well as the local community
Namibia’s N$130-million piped water supply project for the Otjimbingwe settlement, in the Erongo region in central Namibia, is on track for completion early next year. The project was launched in August last year by Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister John...
More
 
 
Latest News
A preliminary investigation by the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) into the derailment of a Shosholoza Meyl train in Kimberley earlier this month, found that Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) had failed to communicate with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA)...
Three of home improvement company Illiad’s major shareholders – Sanlam, Visio and Coronation, which held 69.25% – have agreed to vote in favour of a takeover by Steinhoff, with the company’s remaining shareholders to vote on the deal on September 29. Seventy-five per...
Government should face the fact that South Africa’s full-blown jobs crisis is a matter of urgent public importance, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Friday. MP James Vos, the DA shadow minister of tourism, was responding to a letter by Baleka Mbete, the Speaker...
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book comprises separate reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Water 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
Training company The Intelligence Transfer Centre will host the fourth yearly Environmental Crimes Conference at the Indaba Hotel, in Fourways, Johannesburg between September 9 and 10. Confirmed key regulatory bodies that will attend the event include the Department...
The government of Egypt has said it is ready to provide technical assistance to Malawi in the development of the Shire–Zambezi waterway, which is designed to link landlocked Malawi to the Indian Ocean by opening the two rivers for navigation. Egyptian ambassador to...
Kenya is finally set to start building a new multipurpose petroleum pipeline, after securing a $350-loan from a consortium of banks, including South Africa's Rand Merchant Bank. The other banks in the consortium are the Cooperative Bank of Kenya, Citibank's Kenya...
MARAIS VAN HEERDEN The owner/operator should be able to view the overall project design and progress made at any time
Three-dimensional (3D) engineering design models can now be viewed on tablets, which enable stakeholders to view the design without having to buy the design software used to create it, says engineering design firm 3DDraughting executive Marais van Heerden. The...
Ford’s newest offering in a long list of newcomers to the local market in the last two years is the B-Max multi-activity vehicle (MAV). The B-Max will play in the so called B-MAV segment, or the small MAV segment, currently dominated by Toyota’s Avanza, which sells...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks
Subscribe Now for $96 Close
Subscribe Now for $96