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18 September 2023 Media Release: Future water security in the Southern Cape must include innovation and best practice

Media Release: Future water security in the Southern Cape must include innovation and best practice

For Immediate Release
18 September 2023

“Water scarcity, changes in rainfall patterns, climate change, potentially restrictive water license regulations and proposed water quotas with far reaching impacts are all reasons why farmers and other water users are pushing the limits in terms of building new storage dams or enlarging existing ones or channelling water courses, often doing so without obtaining the necessary official permission required, and in the process expose themselves to costly litigation,” says Cobus Meiring of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI).

Globally agriculture is a major water user and so is mining, industry and human consumption which is rapidly on the increase and posing a complex water demand issue as urbanization world- wide accelerates along with changes in climate.

From an environmental perspective, ultimately ecosystems suffer the most as run- off water is dammed up for storage leaving rivers and streams starved of sufficient supply despite of legally determined minimum reserve flows to ensure their essential ecological survival, having dire impacts on estuaries, aquatic and marine life.

Technology plays a vital role in reducing water consumption on all fronts, and even if difficult to quantify exactly how much collectively it does make a huge difference as farmers invest in advanced irrigation technology, new generation taps and plumbing devices in new developments and permanent water restrictions in towns and cities across the board.

The impact of invasive alien plants in high value catchments is measureable and account for substantial water loss making their constant eradication and control vital. In addition, the prevention of water evaporation on a significant scale holds a key factor in stabilizing water levels in reservoirs globally, and although thus far not utilized on a grand scale, it is an exciting prospect to cover open water surfaces to suppress rapid evaporation rates as heat and drought waves takes effect.

Water management plans for industry designed to regulate, recycle and minimize water use, technology inventions in irrigation and public participation campaigns to reduce water use in cities all make a difference, and is bound to play a bigger role as water demand surges.

In recent times South African water conservation entities have developed floating panels designed for covering large reservoirs over life time periods and no doubt will become a standardized if not essential contributor to water management and preservation systems in years to come. Given the fact that water users dependent on storage dams require no EIA nor permission from water management entities to cover storage dam surfaces, it may well be an additional solution for water stressed entities globally.

Based in the Garden Route, the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI) is a public platform for land owners and land managers focussing on invasive alien plant eradication, environmental management and water stewardship.

Feature Picture: Southern Cape coastal plateau

Caption: The Southern Cape coastal plateau is heavily farmed and dependent on vast volumes of water. Whilst the rate of urbanization in the Garden Route increasingly make demands on the same resource as agriculture, water demand managers must focus on enforced water restrictions, advanced technology options and improved water use management plans