South Africa will face a water challenge until perceptions about water use and reuse have changed and more attention has been given to preventing water pollution.
This is according to a panel of water experts, including Siemens Water Technologies VP of food and beverage industries Mitch Summerfield and Touchstone Resources director Dr Anthony Turton, who spoke at a Siemens water day, in Krugersdorp.
Summerfield said there should be more focus on preventing pollution, rather than thinking of ways to clean polluted water.
“We caused our own water challenges, now we should restructure the way we think about water and put more effort in preventing pollution,” he noted.
Industry was highlighted as one of the main culprits, with Summerfield saying that water gets wasted unneccesarily.
“Techonology is available for companies to implement more sustainable water practices and reuse water in their products, but it is a question of cost and perception. Companies still struggle with the idea of reused water in their products,” he explained.
Siemens CEO Stuart Clarkson said Siemens aimed to build awareness around the importance of sustainable solutions and better water management for future water supply.
“Siemens is investing in ongoing research and development of sustainable technical solutions to water challenges,” Clarkson noted.
A number of factors threatens future water supply, including growing populations, urbanisation and global demographic change. The United Nations has estimated that three-billion people are likely to suffer water shortages by 2025.
“We want to balance supply and demand by reusing municipal, industrial and agricultural water for irrigation, recreation, groundwater recharge, amongst others,” Turton noted.
Treated sewage could also be a new source of potable water, as is succesfully being implemented in Singapore. However, local perceptions still bar such progress in South Africa, Turton said.
“We must invest in water education and approach the challenge correctly. Water can unite us,” he said.