the United Colours of Africa

Water ~ for health and life

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WATER is critical to the existence of any life on this planet. Access to clean free water for drinking and sanitation is regarded as a basic human right. We love water!

Human beings are mostly water. As much as 80%! Like the earth itself. Water is one of the only things that can exist in three states, solid, liquid and gas. Dr. Masaru Emoto has shown that the crystal make-up of water can be changed with our thoughts intentions prayers and music. Dr Emoto photographed the effects music has on the formation of the individual crystals of water and found very relevant results: Beautiful music (like gratitude and prayer) can alter the crystal formation of water beautifully whilst horrifying music (like hatred and negativity) alters the crystals of water awfully!

He shows that water that comes from taps is not necessarily good for drinking. Tap water, as well as bottled water, can become sick. You have to heal the crytsals before you drink the water. There are many techniques for purifying water. One can leave blue glass bottles with water in the sun. One can write 'I love water' on the bottles to affirm a positive effect!

Some of the purest water comes from the sky in the form of rain. Rainwater Harvesting strategies propose to 'slow down, catch, store and use' every drop. The old fashioned way of placing buckets, pots and all sorts of things (even a bath somewhere filling up) in strategic places and catching water, can be an effective means of collection. The harvesting of water is ancient , but not so ancient. The earliest civilizations like the Bushmen could drink from the rivers. According to "extensive rainwater harvesting apparatus existed 4000 years ago in Palestine and Greece."

Between the years 1991 and 1994 architect Adam Knight was involved in building residences and self-sufficient communities. One such community was in the Tsitsikama forest. Adam says, "The nearest water collection point was three kilometres to the river. Rainwater harvesting was a matter of life and death. Corrugated iron roofs fed into 44 gallon drums, (which were cleaned thoroughly inside). The oil drums were on bricks to stop the bottoms rusting. 200mm of sand and a women's stocking were used to filter the water. The rainwater could be drunk. Eventually after nine months, we had a farm and the water was also used for animals drinking."

Most of the rainwater can be channeled and stored directly in the soil of the vegetable beds, while some can be stored in tanks and/or other containers for later use, for seasons of no rain. The tanks are very heavy (particularly when full!) To position the tanks high enough for gravity feed one can build a plinth.

Artist John Jay says, "It is more about learning to live with less than replacing your modern energy requirements with renewable sources."

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry supplies poor rural households with a private water source for homestead food gardening. They have been successful in harvesting thousands of litres of water from ground surface runoff. This has been used to produce food in home gardens which in turn support the homestead.

Themba who has benefited from the programme, said: "We want to expand this to our lands, too, so that the development of the whole area can take place. We want our children to grow up with the understanding that one needs to work for what you get."

Water harvesting is a slightly broader definition and means 'rainwater harvesting' plus 'grey water recycling. "Grey water is an absolute must, and should become a priority," says Noel Martin of the ethical cooperation.

Grey water is the soapy water from kitchens, showers and baths and can be run straight into the garden. An example set by 'sustainable engineer' Richard Pocock from Durban is to dig a ditch in the low part of your yard. Have your grey water run-off into this hole. Plant a ring of banana trees around this hole and a ring of papaw trees around the bananas. These plants enjoy the alkaline conditions of the bathwater! Any citrus trees, figs and pomegranates all do well on grey water.

"Fruit is a secondary process and can deal with grey water. Lettuce for example can't do and will be effected by the chemicals in grey water," describes Noel Martin.

The Big Idea is the transforming of black water into household gases. Geoffrey Jenkins in the book ‘Humanure' writes : "The simple blunt truth is that we shit everyday and we should be returning that organic material back to the soil." This is the human nutrient cycle. Richard has built a biofuel plant at the mushroom production project in Cotton Lands KZN to provide energy for the on-site laboratory. Human sewerage is converted into methane gas.


Water Attitudes

Approximately 98% of South Africa's water resources are allocated, most urban centres are at full capacity and there are disaster zones where people are becoming ill or dying from polluted waters and or thirst.

There are many interrelated reasons for water scarcity from alien vegetation to the paper industry, cattle ranching to bottled water and leaking pipes to the pollution of the rivers, to name only a few. However the primary reason for social, economic and biophysical water scarcity is the relationship between energy and water.

“Water impacts on energy and energy impacts on water,” said Liane Greef, the founder of Ecodoc Africa, who presented her research on Water and Fracking at an event hosted by Earthlife Africa and the Environmental Monitoring Group in Durban. These organisations are alerting the public to the far-reaching ecological and justice implications of fracking in South Africa that extend beyond the Karoo.

The energy sector is the biggest user of water:

Water is required for the extraction of fossil fuels through mining, and natural gas through fracking. The amount of water required is phenomenal. Liane said, “The energy sector uses 40% of the countries water and in 2011 Eskom used more water than the entire city of Cape Town.”

The energy sector is the biggest contributor to climate change. 90% of South Africa's energy is provided by coal.

This is verified by recent research by Greenpeace which writes,   “Eskom's carbon emissions make up about 45% of the South Africa's total annual carbon emissions. T here are very effective alternatives to coal, but there are no alternatives to water .”  

There is a global trend toward sustainable resource utilization. Wind and solar have proved to be the most effective alternatives in countries such as Germany and hydroelectric power is successful in Kenya.

The energy and mining sector are the biggest polluters of water. The South African energy corporations have gone in completely the opposite direction of clean and free energy. On 07/09/2012 government officials lifted the moratorium on fracking and signed off 40% of the land mass to various energy corporations.

Fracking is very bad for water consumption. About 20 million litres of fresh water is required to frack one well. And fracking is very bad for water pollution. Movies such as ‘Gaslands' about fracking in America, ‘H2Oil' documenting the removal of oil from tar sands, ‘The sky is pink,' and ‘Out of Earth', a South African made movie about fracking in America; all tell toxic stories.

The irony is that these same industries are already embroiled in massive litigation for toxic water waste. Coal, copper and gold mining are all linked to the formation of Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) in the Witwatersrand. This pollutes the groundwater, erodes the foundations of buildings and has seeped into the Vaal river, contaminating drinking water in some areas such as Carolina in Mpumalanga.

However, almost like the toll road saga, officials are going ahead with their vision without due consideration.

Bryan Ashe of Geasphere said (referring to KZN), “The reason why we have a 12.5% increase in our water bill is for building a dam in Mooi River which is in the heart of the fracking area.”

The greatest threat to water scarcity is the huge disparity of water usage between the corporations of the energy sector and ordinary human beings.

This is verified online at Greenpeace who write,  “ Eskom uses more than 10 000 litres of water per second.” This is the same amount of water a township dweller uses in a year. There is a further irony that the government have rolled out the installation of ‘water management devices' in townships and poorer locations. These are non-negotiable and unreliable meters that ration households regardless of circumstances, regularly leaving them dry.  

South Africa's precious freshwater resources (rivers, rainfall and underground aquifers feeding indigenous eco systems) require protection from the petrol, gas, coal and mining companies as urgently as rhino's require protection from poachers. At the forefront of solving the water problem are the people, animals and ecosystems who use it. It is our responsibility. content portal : quote the source © 2013 Struan Douglas of AFRIBEAT.COM
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