Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Cape Town Water Crisis

I imagine that you have heard about the coming water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa. Apparently, the city, one of the most important on the continent, is about to run out of water. Currently, water use is being severely rationed, but still the city has until about May. After that there will be no more water. It’s a catastrophe… one that is being ignored by the world.

Apparently, the city’s reservoirs have dried up because of a drought. But still, didn’t you first think that some level of governmental incompetence is to blame. After all, the drought has been ongoing for several years now. Wouldn’t  you think that officialdom would have found a solution.

Anyway, the AP reports on the crisis and blames in on… you guessed it… global warming. Because we never had droughts before the Industrial Revolution. Here is the AP report:

From Cape Town's elegant suburbs to its gritty townships, people are working to reduce their water consumption. People restrict how often and how long they shower, wash clothes and flush toilets in order to conserve water. Police are guarding some natural springs to avoid any scuffles over access to the increasingly precious liquid.

Cape Town, a top international tourist destination, has both high-income oceanside neighborhoods and sprawling informal settlements. Some say poorer residents are unfairly blamed as concerns rise over wasting water. About a quarter of Cape Town's population lives in the informal settlements, where they get water from communal taps instead of individual spigots at home. The 1 million people in Cape Town's poor townships make up 25 percent of the city's 4 million people yet only use 4.5 percent of the water, say water experts.

The use of city drinking water to wash vehicles, hose down paved areas, fill up private swimming pools and water gardens is illegal. Residents using too much water will be fined.

Some 70 percent of water used in Cape Town is consumed in homes, authorities say. Experts have said causes of the city's water shortages include climate change and huge population growth. The city's reservoirs have been dried by three straight years of drought.

In the seaside town of Scarborough, resident Kelson da Cruz demonstrated the new normal of water rationing, pointing out the bucket beside his shower. Everyone is working to change their habits in order to save water, said da Cruz: "You can't just take for granted something so precious."

As you expect, the AP ignores the issue. It ignores the fact that government officials have failed. 

The Times of Israel suggests another problem:

Cape Town 2018 is what happens when a city is more concerned about politics than people. Cape Town 2018 is what happens when national government wants to demonstrate to local government who is boss. Cape Town 2018 is what happens when local government is not equipped to deal with a real crisis. And Cape Town 2018 is that happens when communication falls apart to the point that the noise is so deafening, that no message can be heard.

Cape Town 2018 is also what happens when relevant lifesaving solutions are discarded because of BDS and anti-Semitism.

Yes, indeed. The government was going to have a conference on the water crisis in 2016. But, one of the attendees was an Israeli. So, naturally, the terrorist sympathizers of the local Boycott Divest Sanction movement, the movement that has been trying to organize the world against Israel, exerted pressure and killed the conference.

They all knew that Israel was a world leader in desalination technology… but the BDS crowd declared that Israel was really stealing water from the Palestinians. Ergo, no conference. And no technology that could have helped with the crisis:

Former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk, current Ambassador Lior Keinan, as well as Israel’s economic attaches to South African have all made repeated overtures to the relevant bodies to assist with the Cape Town water crises. Although they have not been formally rejected, no one has engaged on any real level.

Lord Peter Hein, known to South Africans for his fight against corruption, recently tweeted as follows; “The best desalination construction companies are Israeli and regardless of their Government policies, they should be in my view; this is Cape Town withering or remaining the most beautiful city in the world.”

The people of Cape Town deserve better. They are facing a probable total collapse of their economy, infrastructure and daily life. They don’t deserve to be denied solutions because of a group of BDS supporters who have intimidated weak politicians into submission.

The people of Cape Town are paying the price. Perhaps now one understands why Sunni Arab states are more interested in developing good relations with Israel than they are in supporting the lost Palestinian cause.


Sam L. said...

City government stupidity and deliberately ignoring demonstrated expertise (because ISRAEL!!!!1111!!!!) is no way to go thru life, kids.

This seems a good, nay, excellent place for Kipling:
" 'E lifted up my 'ead,
An' he plugged me where I bled,
An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green:
It was crawlin' and it stunk,
But of all the drinks I've drunk,
I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din."

Anonymous said...

Kipling was a pip, he was.

And what is it about Africa that turns everything it touches to a tangle? There was a short respite in South Africa but that has since gone sour as well.


Ares Olympus said...

I recall reading about the problem in the 1990s when they had to cutting down trees whose roots were soaking up enough water to dry up the streams that fed the reservoir and city.

I see BDS is Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Advanced desalination is a new technology and expensive, but clearly many areas in the world that will have to use things like this. Cities on the ocean certainly are good candidates. Has anyone copied the Israeli technology yet? I imagine Saudi Arabia is a big candidate.

I see population increases are also part of the problem, and so you can't just plan on current needs, but future needs that may be much larger. And politicians will also be blamed if they waste money building multibillion dollar water systems and the drought ends this year. California is in the same predicament with population and drought.
"The city has been in drought since 2015. Its population has almost doubled since 1995, from 2.4 million to 4.3 million, putting pressure on the urban water system. At the end of last year’s dry season, the water behind Theewaterskloof dam was less than 13% full."