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  • City of Tshwane participates in the Africa Water Security Forum that supports municipalities to become water resilient

    City of Tshwane participates in the Africa Water Security Forum that supports municipalities to become water resilient

    Thu, Jun 23, 2022

    The City of Tshwane participated in the C40 Cities Africa Water Security Forum 2022 held on 21 June 2022, which I attended in my capacity as MMC for Utilities and Regional Operations. 

    The Africa Water Security Forum aims to ensure that cities have a better understanding of their water security needs and priorities, and how to better target interventions and actions. 

    This forum has come about through a collaboration between the City of Tshwane, the City of Aarhus and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. The three entities have formed an alliance to address water security concerns, especially for African cities that experience both flooding and drought. 

    The City of Tshwane and the City of Aarhus are embarking on the second phase of their city-to-city partnership, which is purely focused on a bilateral collaboration to support Tshwane to become water resilient in the face of the changing climate. The second phase will focus on non-revenue water challenges, own-source optimisation and waste water optimisation. 

    In respect of non-revenue water, the focus is on the prioritisation of pipe replacements, enabling the City to identify the most critical pipes to replace in each of its 240 demand management areas in a bid to lower our technical water losses. 

    These losses amount to a staggering R1 billion per year and with a limited capital budget to replace our ageing network, the aim is to stretch that budget by identifying the most critical pipes to replace. 

    At this juncture, we are already straining against our water allocation from Rand Water and until the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands water project is initiated, the growth of Gauteng municipalities is throttled. 

    This is a worrying prospect as water is essential for growth and development. As the migration hub of the country, Tshwane is highly water insecure. It is concerning as we observe other metros teetering towards what has been infamously termed "day zero" – the day that taps will simply run dry, leaving residents and businesses in the lurch. 

    This reality is evident in the eThekwini Municipality and Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, which have recently begun rationing water. This is expected to last for an entire year, with residents having to adjust to a new normal that excludes continuous water provision. 

    As we grapple with this sense of vulnerability, we need to take matters into our own hands and accelerate the optimisation of our own sources. Diversifying our water mix by incorporating groundwater and rainwater, treating the local surface supply and recycling greywater is imperative. Therefore, an element of the partnership with the City of Aarhus will be to support the City of Tshwane with developing this mission to be more self-reliant in a water sense, although the same principle applies equally to energy. 

    All this is possible because the City already produces around 17% of its own water use from a mix of water treatment plants, boreholes and springs. We are already investigating expanding our Rietvlei Water Treatment Works with an additional 50 Mℓ treatment capacity, with long-term benefits to communities. It opens doors for the provision of water to new settlements, as well as enabling critical economic expansion. 

    The additional capacity does not exempt us from continuing to work to improve our reticulation system to prevent water losses. We must find new sources of water supply and find innovative solutions to reduce water losses. We invite partners who can help us with both aims to come forward. 

    Engagements like this are critical to ensure that the City leads in building water resilience to best serve the needs of Tshwane residents now and into the future.

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