Windhoek needs to up water savings

29 April 2016 | Disasters

Windhoek has been achieving 20% water savings but is still below the 30% savings required to extend the dwindling water supply from the three storage dams.
In addition, a water expert has said that when the dam water runs out, which is expected by the end of November, the city’s water supply will be cut by at least 40%, “if we are lucky.”
“We will need to save 40% when the water runs out. It could be earlier or later, depending on the water savings,” he said.
Furthermore, the fact that the city will then be dependent on the remaining resources, including the Windhoek aquifer, will put severe pressure on that system.
The expert said Namibia should use the current crisis as a stepping stone to create a water-wise culture.
“This needs to become a culture in Namibia. We will always have water problems. We will always want to promote development, but water saving needs to become a culture that is just simply missing right now.”
He said water restrictions should not have to be mandatory.
“Why must water savings be enforced? Why can’t we just all cooperate?”
The source said there are concerns that the 30% savings target cannot be achieved as things stand now, and it would require a much bigger effort from the government, one of the main consumers, and others.
Although it has been widely reported that the municipality requires all businesses and households to implement water-management programmes in order to achieve the required 30% savings, the request seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Although private residents and some businesses have started implementing serious water-savings measures, a list of big water consumers shows that issues such as fixing leaks, in addition to the absence of water use monitoring, continue to hamper efforts to achieve the 30% target.
Although fines can be issued to households who transgress, no protocol is in place to effectively manage big consumers such as government properties and businesses found wasting water.
“A fine doesn’t make a difference. It just becomes an argument,” a City of Windhoek source claimed. He added that many consumers blame high readings on faulty meters and some refuse to pay, demanding rebates. The City of Windhoek no longer permits rebates.
Lastly, some argue that because they pay for the water, their consumption should not be limited or questioned.
The February water usage list shows that the Windhoek prison again consumed more than 30 000 cubic metres. An investigation last year found that about 70% of the prison’s water consumption was wasted because of leaking pipes.
Besides water-intensive industries such as Namibia Breweries, Namibia Dairies, Meatco and Paradise Beverages, the top 20 water consumers includes four facilities falling under the Ministry of Health and Social Services, including the medical school and nurses’ flats.
Unam features twice in the top 20, along with the Ministry of Defence, Windhoek Country Club and the Office of the President.
Experts say one of the ways the private and public sectors, including government institutions, can meet the City of Windhoek water-saving target is to implement strict water-management programmes and to task at least one person per property to monitor usage.
“The current situation is that people just do not cooperate,” the source said, despite the fact that many residents are working hard to do their bit to achieve the 30% water target and to police those who break the regulations.
Graphs show that in April, Windhoek used 435 704 cubic metres of water sourced from boreholes, 434 031 cubic metres of reclaimed water and 886 056 cubic metres supplied by NamWater.
JANA-MARI SMITH

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