Water-use strategy critical for S.Africa's commercial premises

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Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane urged South Africans and industries to become more aware of their water usage as the water crisis in South Africa has worsened. Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane urged South Africans and industries to become more aware of their water usage as the water crisis in South Africa has worsened.

As South Africa braces for an unparalleled water crisis‚ commercial property owners and developers need to implement detailed management plans and strategies to optimize water use in their buildings.

The water crisis in South Africa has worsened, prompting the City of Johannesburg to impose water restrictions on Monday.

The City of Tshwane began to implement water restrictions last month. Some other places have run out of water supply and residents there have to be supplied with water by water tanks.

Meanwhile the Department of Water and Sanitation will today brief the portfolio committee in Parliament about the status of the drought in South Africa.

The department is expected to reveal its strategies and interventions in respect of the drought and the disbursement of relief to provinces. This comes as the country faces a burgeoning water crisis that has depleted many municipalities and the agriculture sector since last year.

Commercial buildings are made up of many systems that rely on water. With today’s desire to design green systems, the engineer’s goal has become not only to provide a functional design, but also to keep usage and energy savings in mind.

"With or without the need to achieve a green building certification, water conservation can be incorporated into a design, even if it is just at the fixture level," says Ortneil Kutama, SA Commercial Prop News Media Director.

He adds "providing a system that reduces water usage will not only lower energy costs, it will also ensure future availability of resources and convey a corporate message that the environment matters."

The government has allocated R350 million rand to fight the persistent drought.

Earlier this month, Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said an estimated 6 500 stand-alone rural communities were currently experiencing water shortages, mostly in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West provinces.

She said this number could increase to more than 11 000 rural communities as local water reserves depleted and the dry period continued.

So far, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State have been declared drought disaster areas.

South Africa is experiencing its worst water crisis and drought in years and Afriforum warned on Tuesday that insufficient rainfall could also lead to greater pollution and poorer water quality.

Water savings opportunities

One of the best ways to identify suitable water conservation measures is to establish a water savings plan to create a benchmark with which to rate and prioritize them. However, before we can determine and incorporate a water savings plan, we must first look at where water is used within a building.

Water conservation will vary in a commercial setting depending on the building type. While hospitals and office buildings require a large water volume for mechanical systems, hotels and restaurants require high usage in laundry and food service applications, respectively.

In sports complexes with large playing fields and stands, the usage is driven by large public toilets and the irrigation system. Determining the applications that have the greatest water consumption is critical to prioritize the overall goals and budget. Once the systems have been determined, a water savings plan can be developed.

Grey water, rainwater harvesting, pressure reduction, insulate piping, leak proofing/leak repair and rain sensor on irrigation are options available with high capital investment; But they often pay back the investment when used often.


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