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Old 01-28-2018, 09:13 PM   #1
Svartsengi
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Default Cape Town South Africa out of water on April 12

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/...083925117.html

City with millions of people will have no more water supply on April 12 despite efforts to conserve. A three year drought has added to the problem. Fire hydrants won't work and neither will all indoor plumbing.

Are desalination plants a good idea?. I know they will provide drinkable water but will anybody be able to afford to turn on the tap?
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Old 01-28-2018, 09:24 PM   #2
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This likely the first of many urban water shortages we will see in the coming years due to climate change (natural and man made). Water is becoming the new oil.
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Old 01-28-2018, 09:32 PM   #3
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Karma for apartheid?
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Old 01-28-2018, 09:37 PM   #4
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Karma for apartheid?
No, this will hurt blacks more as the are still more likely to be impoverished.
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Old 01-28-2018, 09:48 PM   #5
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This likely the first of many urban water shortages we will see in the coming years due to climate change (natural and man made). Water is becoming the new oil.
I disagree. Oil is non-renewable, water is. We don't use water. We just pump it around and contaminate it. There lots of technologies to treat water. They cost money and use energy, but are used in many places in the world. Some engineering will help us adapt to the new world.
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Old 01-28-2018, 09:53 PM   #6
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No, this will hurt blacks more as the are still more likely to be impoverished.
No doubt. The financially well-off can just truck their own water in from neighbouring areas. That being said, I don't think you want to be driving a delivery truck of freshwater around Cape Town on April 13th.
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Old 01-29-2018, 12:00 AM   #7
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Are desalination plants a good idea?. I know they will provide drinkable water but will anybody be able to afford to turn on the tap?
Obviously, here in the Gulf region, almost all the water comes from desalination, and my utility bill is lower than it would be in Calgary. Granted, the region is not hard up for natural gas.

In South Africa, they are not that far from oil/gas producing places like Angola. I have no idea about the politics between those nations or the trade agreements or infrastructure to get energy to market, but I'd guess that's what they'll have to look at if desalination is in their future.
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Old 01-29-2018, 02:59 AM   #8
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I disagree. Oil is non-renewable, water is. We don't use water. We just pump it around and contaminate it. There lots of technologies to treat water. They cost money and use energy, but are used in many places in the world. Some engineering will help us adapt to the new world.
Have you heard of the concept of water scarcity? It's not just happening in Cape Town - it's happening in many parts of continental Africa, India, Iran, Pakistan, and other developing areas. There are many articles on the subject even just doing a quick Google search. This isn't an isolated crisis.

The growing world population will be putting incredible demands on the fresh water supply. Heck, 2.5 billion people on this planet live without adequate access to clean water. In addition to industry and agriculture both increasing their demands, humans are also destroying wetlands and ecosystems that support the cleansing and filtration of freshwater.

There are new technologies, yes, but consider why we haven't come up with a silver-bullet solution yet for urban consumption - desalinization plants are incredibly resource-intensive and cost prohibitive for many governments in their current forms. Everything else just isn't done on a massive scale, or is not economical to deploy to the masses (yet).

We can talk about the abundance of water all day. it's fresh, drinkable, usable water that is the issue that matters - just like oil that is extractable and usable. Apologies if that wasn't implicit in my comment.
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Old 01-29-2018, 08:00 AM   #9
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weird to be living right on the coast, and not have rain for 3 yrs.

I have not heard any mention of the water status for other cities in SA, anyone seen anything.
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Old 01-29-2018, 08:35 AM   #10
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weird to be living right on the coast, and not have rain for 3 yrs.

I have not heard any mention of the water status for other cities in SA, anyone seen anything.
Looking around the web it sounds like Durban and Jo-burg have been getting plenty of rain and are shipping water to Cape Town. It doesn't sound like it will be enough to keep the city from running out in April or before. Some residents in the more affluent suburbs are still watering there lawns willing to pay the fines.

A big part of the problem is that many people in the city are in denial.
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Old 01-29-2018, 08:37 AM   #11
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Looking around the web it sounds like Durban and Jo-burg have been getting plenty of rain and are shipping water to Cape Town. It doesn't sound like it will be enough to keep the city from running out in April or before. Some residents in the more affluent suburbs are still watering there lawns willing to pay the fines.

A big part of the problem is that many people in the city are in denial.
Isn't denial about 6500km north?
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Old 01-29-2018, 08:58 AM   #12
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This likely the first of many urban water shortages we will see in the coming years due to climate change (natural and man made). Water is becoming the new oil.
too bad here in Canada we are basically giving it away
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Old 01-29-2018, 09:46 AM   #13
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This situation calls desperately for desalination plants. All that water right in your backyard. Yes, it's a big capital cost but it's been shown to be doable.

Israel is a great story. https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...n-era-is-here/

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“Now, that’s a pump!” Edo Bar-Zeev shouts to me over the din of the motors, grinning with undisguised awe at the scene before us. The reservoirs beneath us contain several feet of sand through which the seawater filters before making its way to a vast metal hangar, where it is transformed into enough drinking water to supply 1.5 million people.

We are standing above the new Sorek desalination plant, the largest reverse-osmosis desal facility in the world, and we are staring at Israel’s salvation. Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants.
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Old 01-29-2018, 11:39 AM   #14
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This situation calls desperately for desalination plants. All that water right in your backyard. Yes, it's a big capital cost but it's been shown to be doable.

Israel is a great story. https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...n-era-is-here/
South Africa, sadly, is in no state to be spending that type of money.
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Old 01-31-2018, 06:08 PM   #15
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http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/31/africa...rnd/index.html

some satellite imagery showing the shrinking reservoir outside Cape Town
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Old 02-01-2018, 03:36 AM   #16
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too bad here in Canada we are basically giving it away
Not the entrepreneurs who are somehow selling untreated water as raw water.
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Old 02-01-2018, 10:26 AM   #17
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South Africa, sadly, is in no state to be spending that type of money.
Israel's largest plant was built for about 500 million. It would definitely be possible for them. They spent that much on stadiums and renovations before the last world cup. They also receive about 1.3 billion in development aid a year.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:11 AM   #18
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Have you heard of the concept of water scarcity? It's not just happening in Cape Town - it's happening in many parts of continental Africa, India, Iran, Pakistan, and other developing areas. There are many articles on the subject even just doing a quick Google search. This isn't an isolated crisis.

The growing world population will be putting incredible demands on the fresh water supply. Heck, 2.5 billion people on this planet live without adequate access to clean water. In addition to industry and agriculture both increasing their demands, humans are also destroying wetlands and ecosystems that support the cleansing and filtration of freshwater.

There are new technologies, yes, but consider why we haven't come up with a silver-bullet solution yet for urban consumption - desalinization plants are incredibly resource-intensive and cost prohibitive for many governments in their current forms. Everything else just isn't done on a massive scale, or is not economical to deploy to the masses (yet).

We can talk about the abundance of water all day. it's fresh, drinkable, usable water that is the issue that matters - just like oil that is extractable and usable. Apologies if that wasn't implicit in my comment.
I am a water treatment engineer. I have also supported and have been to many lunches with water aid charities. I am well aware of the issues without google searching ad-supported alarmist websites. I maintain a strong disagreement with the comparison of water to oil. The two are just not comparable. "Water is the new oil" is one of those ignorant pop culture sayings that I hate.

You are correct that growing urban populations put huge strains on natural water reservoirs. As mentioned by others, the biggest problem is people's attitude and expectations. They will spend the money on stadiums, but not water infrastructure. People just expect water to be free and abundant to massive populations in small areas. Kind of like how they feel it's their god-given right to throw anything away and have the government take care of it. Big cities also need to reconsider the idea of one pipe in, one pipe out. There are different grades of water that are suitable for different uses.

We are not going to run out of water until about a billion years from now when the sun expands and boils off the oceans. Don't worry though, most plants and animals will have died off hundreds of millions of years before that when CO2 levels drop to about 50ppm.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:49 AM   #19
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Two things:

1. The phrase has always been about fresh, usable water. I think that's apparent enough.

2. The phrase is referring to the value of water, not the abundance of it. It also started to show up when the price of oil was generally high, and when society at large started to really see through the media that water scarcity is a very tangible thing, especially in places that have insufficient volumes of it and/or can't import enough to support societal demands.

So yes, the phrase is populist in nature, I think most people would understand that the price of fresh water is what it's referring to. The UN (specifically the UN Food and Agriculture Organization) has identified this as a real threat across many parts of the world. One only has to look at the Falkenmark Water Stress Indicator to see that this is a major problem in and around the world. How much would Cape Town pay for a fresh water source? 500 million for a desalination plant? How many do they need? My guess is well into the tens of them to even support one city's requirements. This is a multi-billion dollar investment and not an easy one to just one day "turn on" for a number of reasons. Cape Town itself is also lucky to right near the ocean; more complications arise from inland urban centres.

Even in the Western world, this is a problem. Look at California: 95% of their water sources come from surface water or groundwater. Yet they continue to suffer repeated water shortages, with no signs of a silver bullet solution from government, industry or societal conservation efforts to prevent more in the future. Desalination plants are growing in nature, but not to to the scale of economics to solve the issue, especially as California has major irrigation and agricultural demands for usable water.

I think most people reasonably understand what water scarcity is; I don't think anyone is saying the oceans are going to dry up (now other things, such as oxygen levels, pollution, acidity and overfishing are also very valid issues in themselves).
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Old 02-01-2018, 01:13 PM   #20
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I don't think you understand his point that there is water & technology available to create enough usable & fresh drinking water for everyone in the world. I agree, there is...but politics and public perception aren't allowing us to get there.

The reason we can't scale with the desalination plants is because governments have their heads stuck in the sand. California had the expectation that their water reserves would last forever. They are a VERY rich state and could be 20 years into securing their water future by building massive desalination plants. Instead they've waited till the problem turns into a crisis and then they want to act.

Obviously we won't solve the clean water problem in third world countries overnight, but we could at least solve it in rich countries, and then use the advancements in that technology and the falling costs to develop it on bigger scales to help 3rd world countries.
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