Mmegi Blogs :: Its time to reduce water consumption
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Monday 20 August 2018, 14:43 pm.
Its time to reduce water consumption

Presumably each year begins where we left off last year.
By Sandy Grant Mon 15 Jan 2018, 17:00 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: Its time to reduce water consumption

For me, that was with the Lete farm issue which looks like something that will regularly recur until someone does something to stop it recurring, with Minister Kebonang and cash slewing around all over the place, and with water – there being too much of it in the Ntimbale Dam so the WUC thought it best to get rid of some of it! The idea that, anywhere in the country, we have too much stored water, strikes me as extraordinary.

We used to complain that we have too little. Towards the end of the year, we learnt that the government had secured a P15 billion loan from the World Bank to upgrade and enlarge its water distribution system.

This will mean, not least, getting water to villages whose supply today is no better than it was in 1966. We also learnt that Lesotho, South Africa, and this country had signed an agreement to pipe water from Lesotho to southern Botswana (and that a new north south pipeline is to be constructed to replace the present ‘aging’ pipeline which loses 40% (Mmegi 28 November ).

I would dearly love to know more about all three news items which, reaches us only in dribbles (sorry). For the moment, I remain sceptical about getting water from Lesotho, not least because there must be many villages there which don’t have any.

But more generally I am concerned that we should always be thinking about more when it must surely be common sense to start thinking instead about less. It’s amazing how quickly we forget. Not so long ago, the Gaborone Dam was dry and we were all agonizing.

Now the water restrictions have gone and we can all wash our cars again and go swimming and start talking about the bonanza years ahead when water all over southern Africa will be coming Gaborone’s way. How can anyone talk about reducing water consumption when, recently, it has been so incredibly hot? But that, of course, is the point. Those of us who are not flat earthers do believe that climate change is real and that it will probably become even hotter.

The equation – more heat more water -cannot possibly work, it is untenable. So, something needs to be done. A South African news item the other day reported that Cape Town residents were being restricted to 10 litres of water per day which must have meant that no one there could use a toilet.

That figure was soon upgraded to 47 litres – for washing, toilet, cooking, drinking and so on.


Okay, Cape Town is not here, so all is well. But is it? Cape Town has the enormous advantage that it has both sun and sea. It can extract the one and desalinate with the other. Seemingly it doesn’t do so.

Soon it will have no choice. In reality, will their situation be any different from others? With the government’s dry port near Windhoek, we can start salinating water drawn by solar from the sea without need for lengthy, cumbersome agreements. If we can take coal by train from Mmamabula to Windhoek we ought to be able to carry water from there to Gaborone. 

But then how do the costs compare – of a new pipe line and a new train system for the 928 kilometers Windhoek – Gaborone stretch? For the moment, we seem to be a bit clueless about constructing pipelines that work properly – isn’t this new one the third of its kind? 

But then there is no way of knowing if we are better at setting up a brand-new train route because this takes us into unknown territory, the last such line being presumably from Seruli to Phikwe and the latest train, the new Blue Train which had its own awful problems. But consider the costs – as I presume the government has done.

Taking water from the Zambezi to the Panamatenga farmers, to Francistown and then down to Gaborone in possibly the fourth pipeline with relatively small compensation costs. Or drawing desalinated water from Windhoek to Gaborone with even lower compensation costs or from Lesotho to Gaborone with such crippling compensation costs that the idea cannot possibly be viable.

In the meanwhile, I suggest that we start right now by cutting back on our water consumption. Almost nowhere should we be using potable water for agricultural production. And certainly not for golf courses. No new houses should have installed baths and a tax should be levied on them to discourage their future use and controls should be institured regrading swimming pools.  Fifty years after Independence and we still seem to have a paucity of plumbers. In every village, there should be many from whom to chose.

Every institution in the country should have at least one full time employed plumber or one or two on easy call. A major effort should be made to go into cutting back on wastage, leaky taps, continuously running urinals and the technical/innovation centres pressured into coming up with innovative ideas for reducing water usage. Isn’t this what they are supposed to be doing?

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