Zille water crisis and dewatering for Phosphate mining.

There looks to be a disconnect between water crisis and phosphate mining. Helen Zille is telling us all what to expect with the water shortage and meanwhile …

Zille claims “climate change is hitting us hard”. Strange use of the present tense for something that has been known about for so long. Who was doing the planning while the Cape preened itself on being the nth most popular tourist venue in the world. Cape Town is not going to get too many tourists if they can’t take a shower, have to drink beer to stay hydrated or use recycled washing up water to make ice for their G&Ts.

Now I can barely spell hydrology, but it does seem that the water department’s hydrologists might have had a chat with the Phosphate miners in the West Coast National park. The miners are dewatering a very large aquifer which flows into the Langebaan lagoon.

SABC News – Technical Director at Kropz Mining, Michelle Lawrence says, “The method that we are choosing for the mining is one that will ensure the volume in the aquifer doesn’t change; we are just locally dewatering the mining area so that we can mine safely.  All the water goes straight back into the aquifer and we have a very comprehensive ground water monitoring plan for the aquifer between the mine and the (Langebaan) lagoon to make sure we detect any changes as they happen as soon as possible,” adds Lawrence.  Ed. hmmmmm

Cape Times (Oct 5th) – “Environmental activists have slammed the development of the Elandsfontein phosphate mine, which is still in the process of being established, for dewatering a 5- to 10 million-year-old Elandsfontein aquifer. The aquifer is still being dewatered, the Saldanha municipality confirmed this week.”

A couple of comments and the stories behind them. Difficult to decide who is leading who by the nose.

Sunday Times – “The City of Cape Town is installing 2000 water-management devices a week at properties owned by water guzzlers to restrict household consumption to 350 litres per day.” Ed.  Oh goody, that should help…

Daily Maverick – Helen Zille writes “The term ‘Day Zero’ has been coined to describe the day – which we are doing everything possible in the Western Cape to avoid – when the demand for water to meet essential needs exceeds the supply. According to current projections, unless we take decisive action, Day Zero could arrive in March 2018. Despite the recent rains, Western Cape dams are still on average only 26% full (30th July) – about 20% lower than the same time last year.”

“Have we been lax in allowing things to reach this point?” Zille asks and then concedes – “But yes, we should have had a fall-back position, a Plan B, to cater for this eventuality. Now we have to play catch-up.”

Writing in Politicsweb Zille comments: “Average provincial dam levels stood at 32.4% as of this week (31st August), compared to over 100% in 2014.” Ed: I am intrigued to know quite how a dam can be filled beyond 100%.

“Geo-Hydrologists have been appointed in all districts to manage groundwater operations. Provincial engineers are partnering with municipalities to track their water usage. Our Disaster Management services are working flat out on priority projects worth R295 million,” the Premier said.

“This is a whole of society effort by Team Western Cape, including residents who are doing their bit to save water in their own homes and businesses. We can avoid Day Zero, but only if we work together,” Zille continued.

Political speak or double speak ?

Have your say. What is your solution ?

It seems to be time to roll up our sleeves, tap into groundwater aquifers, desalinate sea water and get used to bath water in our evening scotch. Maybe we could tow a couple of icebergs up from down south ?

The daily shower will become a thing of the past and we will be reduced to cleaning only the vital bits with a face flannel.

Voelvlei Dam image source News24


Ed also makes the coffee...

2 thoughts on “Zille water crisis and dewatering for Phosphate mining.

  • October 11, 2017 at 14:56

    The fact that nothing has been done in anticipation of the present water crisis to me is absolutely mind boggling. This did not happen overnight so the “powers that be” should have – a long time ago – put measures into place to ensure it never gets to crisis point. We are constantly bombarded with the global warming issue, including the rising sea levels due to the ice cap melting, so why is SA – which has a coastline of over 3,000km – not building desalination plants at regular intervals along this coastline? Whenever I mention this, I am told that these plants use a lot of electricity and electricity is expensive, so my question is why not use PV panels? SA has over 200 days of sunshine every year, so use the sun (which is free!) to create the electricity to run the desalination plants. The cost of the PV panels and batteries will soon be recovered – and the citizens of SA will have a steady supply of potable water.

    The Israelis have had desalination plants for decades – the kibbutz’s are testimony to this – so why not consult with them as to the best way to go about it?

    After all, in today’s world with all the modern technology that is available, we can make virtually anything – but we can’t in essence make water!

    • October 11, 2017 at 15:32

      Thanks Judy. It is outrageous, considering how much warning the politicans (who claim to be leaders) have had. You’re right there are many examples in the Middle East of successful desalination operations and solar panel technology is coming down in price.
      D-day (Dry-day) March 2018, that’s not far away. Beware the Ides of March. It wasn’t just about poor old Julius, the Smithsonian article is quite amusing.


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