Water wastage costs govt billions

29 March 2018 | Local News

Agriculture and water minister Alpheus !Naruseb says water marshals from different public institutions have been trained on leak identification, water meter reading and water consumption determination, in order to reduce water wastage and save government billions of dollars in water bills.

“It cannot continue to be business as usual. We do not have the abundance of water nor financial resources to waste.

Wasted water means wasted money,” he said in a statement delivered on his behalf at an International Day of Forests, World Water Day and World Wetlands Day commemoration.

The days are commemorated globally on 2 February, 21 March and 22 March, respectively.

The joint commemoration held by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry recognised the vital role of wetlands, water and forestry.

!Naruseb said there are enormous amounts of water wasted at public institutions or buildings, as a result of leaks that remain unfixed for a long time, with huge cost implications.

He added his ministry has refocused efforts on water conservation and saving in Namibia, specifically focusing on the wastage of water by public institutions.

!Naruseb said the theme for this year's World Water Day is 'Nature for Water'.

According to him this theme calls for nature-based solutions to water problems and related crises.

He said nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of Namibia's water supply challenges.

“We need to come up with innovative ideas that look at 'green' infrastructure such as drip irrigation and harmonise it with 'grey' infrastructure, which employs the use of reclaimed water for different purposes and to promote water use efficiency wherever possible.”

Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains and restoring wetlands will also rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods, said !Naruseb. In addressing the water supply security challenges in the country, the National Water Saving Campaign was revitalised by a Cabinet decision on 16 August 2016, to promote water saving at all levels of the Namibian society, targeting specifically public institutions.

!Naruseb said as part of the campaign, water marshals were appointed to monitor water usage, facilitate speedy leaks repairs and curb wastage.

He said with this campaign they are seeking further commitment towards changing attitudes and behaviours of public service employees about water saving and water use efficiency.

Meanwhile, Unesco director-general Audrey Azoulay said the global demand for water is currently estimated at around 4 600 cubic km per year and could reach 5 500 cubic km per year. At 4 600 cubic km per year the current global usage of freshwater is already close to the maximum threshold of sustainability and this fragile balance in fact masks the major local and regional disparities.

!Naruseb said further that wetlands and their ecosystems, being the future of the cities and urban life, are negatively impacted by climate change and climate variability, which is the main driving force behind many of the water-related crises experienced today in Namibia.

“Devastating floods and prolonged droughts are all worsened by degraded vegetation, soil and floodplains. When we neglect our ecosystems, we make it harder for the environment to provide the much-needed water for human basic needs and economic activities in cities and urban centres.”

With regard to forests !Naruseb said there is evidence of an overall decline in forests in Namibia.

He said this is due to, amongst others, the conversion of forests to agricultural land, the unsustainable harvesting of timber and fuel wood; unsound land management practices, bush encroachment, wild fires and changes in demography.

“The increasing loss of trees not only impacts on livelihoods and human settlement patterns, but results in those essential ecosystem processes and services provided by forested areas being compromised.”

ELLANIE SMIT

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