A new initiative to answer Cape Town’s water crisis

Cape Town needs three mega water projects for future abundance. The Cape Messenger chief executive officer Martin Humphries makes no bones about it – the project will involve three multi-billion efforts to achieve abundance and prosperity. Water analyst Anthony Turton says that instead of telling tourists to get in line and save water they should be told to take baths and to flush the loo

A new water crisis initiative has been launched to identify and push through three multi-billion rand projects to restore water security to Cape Town.

The aim is to move the agenda from a focus on water scarcity to one of abundance.

The new initiative is being launched following a meeting in Cape Town on Thursday of the Water Leapathon Advisory Board, a strategy forum which brings together representatives of business, academia, government, labour and concerned citizens.

“We have two areas of focus,” said Cape Messenger CEO Martin Humphries, who chaired the forum.

“In the short term, we will help with getting the message across, and helping to mobilise businesses and individuals to take steps to cut water consumption.

“For this, we will identify examples of success, and share them.
“We are also convinced that there needs to be more thought about the long term.”

He said that for a longer-term response to the water crisis, three mega-projects will be identified and driven to completion.

“The framework we are seeking is public-private partnerships,” he said.
“We are not tied to any strategy: if water treatment or re-use is the best and cheapest way to go, we will follow that path.

“Similarly, we will look closely at large-scale desalination. The methods are much less important than achieving the objective.”

A Water Leapathhon emergency summit is being held in Cape Town at the end of  November to advance the agenda.

“This cannot come too soon,” said Humphries.

“The politicians have been struggling, and now business must step up to the mark.

“The technology is available, funding can be raised.  If there is red tape, it must not be allowed to hold us back. We need a catalyst to move things forward, and we are taking on that role.  We are also determined to involve all stakeholders.  The blame game has achieved nothing.”

Said leading water strategist Professor Anthony Turton: “We must change the discourse into one of water abundance. We must get across the message that it is not just about the water which people consume.

“We must not be blind to the water needs of the economy. We need to understand the water efficiencies of each economic sector.”

He explained that a unit of water consumed in tourism creates more jobs than one drop used in mining.

So it is economically short-sighted to ration water use for visitors to Cape Town.

“Instead of constantly rationing foreign visitors, let them take baths and flush their toilets as often as they wish,” he suggested.

“The economic return on that unit of water is bigger than if we have the constraints of telling them to have no baths, and don’t flush the loo.”


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