According to the Government’s latest Financial and Fiscal Commission report, the most vulnerable municipalities in South Africa are rural villages, small towns and secondary cities. Rural areas are particularly vulnerable due to their dependency on climate-sensitive resources, such as water and an agrarian landscape.
Climate change negatively affects water availability and quality, which in turn, has negative impact on community health. We believe, that if every person in South Africa has continuous access to water, that is clean and safe to drink and in the quantities needed, the health impacts from water-borne diseases, such as cholera and the impacts of community viral-spread as seen by the COVID-19 pandemic, can be greatly minimised.
Bosch Munitech’s mitigation measures for water scarcity, water conservation and demand management projects, include municipal leak detection, upgrading of aged infrastructure and installation of new infrastructure. The company also recommends logging of water flows to determine the demand on the water supply networks and studies on how to best reduce water usage and wastage by consumers.
According to Bosch Munitech specialists, municipal and private wastewater treatment plants that release treated effluent into rivers and oceans, need to be monitored in a more pro-active way, as it is now evident that viruses, such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, are transported in sewer systems. Recommended monitoring methods include sample and laboratory analysis on a scheduled basis. Sensors should be installed on effluent valves to establish if and when they need to open for release – especially in periods of high rainfall, as industries tend to use this as an opportunity to release effluent in a diluted manner.
Monitoring should also include water-use licence evaluations, which take into account the testing of the effluent and the river environment into which it is released. The development of educational material and conducting of workshops for adults and children is also important, to highlight the importance of water conservation and assist in changing mindsets.
Climate change poses both opportunities and threats to the wastewater reclamation sector. Processes that occur in wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) are affected by extreme weather events, which lead to untreated sewer overflows and increased flooding. To combat current water insecurity concerns, wastewater reclamation and reuse is becoming a more promising means to conserving valuable fresh water sources, whilst increasing the efficiency of material utilisation.
In light of the increased occurrence of severe weather events, Bosch Munitech encourages municipalities to adapt their infrastructure planning to encompass more resilient and adaptive asset management practices in line with climate change, for more reliable forecasting of long-term infrastructure planning.
With a thorough understanding of the interactions between human activities and natural processes, the Bosch Munitech team assists the public and private sector to integrate climate change adaptation strategies into asset management practices. This is achieved mainly through risk assessments, life cycle management projects and improved levels of service.