Friday, 22 March 2013

22nd March – Celebrating World Water Day

I know a lot of our readers of this blog are from Europe, and with the cold and rainy winter having reigned for the last few months, you are probably tired of seeing water!  But the world’s water resources are surprisingly scarce and precious resource, and a resource that is slowly dwindling under increasing human population numbers and associated negative environmental resources!

While some 70 percent of the earth is covered in oceans, this salt water is of little use to us; oceans make up 97 percent of the water on the Earth.  The remaining three percent is fresh water; slightly over two thirds of this is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. The remaining unfrozen freshwater is found mainly as groundwater, with only a small fraction present above ground or in the air.  Fresh water is a potentially renewable resource, yet the world's supply of clean, fresh water is steadily decreasing. Water demand already exceeds supply in many parts of the world and as the world population continues to rise, so too does the water demand. Awareness of the global importance of preserving water for ecosystem services has only recently emerged, and since 1993, the United Nations have celebrated World Water Day on the 22nd of March to try and create awareness and focus the public’s attention on the need to sustainably manage the world’s limited water resources on which we all depend.  For some interesting water facts, click here.

The breakdown of the World's Water Resources
2013’s theme for WWD is about Water Cooperation.  The UN states that “The fulfilment of basic human needs, our environment, socio-economic development and poverty reduction are all heavily dependent on water.  Good management of water is especially challenging due to some of its unique characteristics: it is unevenly distributed in time and space, the hydrological cycle is highly complex and perturbations have multiple effects. Rapid urbanization, pollution and climate change threaten the resource while demands for water are increasing in order to satisfy the needs of a growing world population, now at over seven billion people, for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses”. 

Further to this, “water is a shared resource and its management needs to take into account a wide variety of conflicting interests. This provides opportunities for cooperation among users.  In designating 2013 as the UN International Year of Water Cooperation, the UNGA recognizes that cooperation is essential to strike a balance between the different needs and priorities and share this precious resource equitably, using water as an instrument of peace. Promoting water cooperation implies an interdisciplinary approach bringing in cultural, educational and scientific factors, as well as religious, ethical, social, political, legal, institutional and economic dimensions.”

It is often stated that at some point in the not too distant future, wars are going to be fought over access to water resources rather than land and mineral resources as is often the case today.  So through the promotion of cooperation, the UN is trying to encourage us all to work together to protect the water resources for not only the populations of today, but for our children, and their children too!

At Motswari, an area that is only too familiar with water scarcity (we have an average annual rainfall of only 450mm, as opposed to an annual global average of over 800mm) and see the effects of water scarcity first hand during the dry periods.  As part of our celebration of World Water Day, we strived to make a small difference by watching our water usage on the day, as well as informing the staff and guests of the problems facing the world’s water resources so that actions taken today do not just become a once off activity, but rather something that can become a habit for a future waterwise generation.

Despite the good rains the last two summers at Motswari, water is generally a scarce resource in the area, with us receiving an average of 450mm of rain per year

A dry and desolate winter landscape when water is not freely available

As part of our developing Environmental Management System, Motswari and its Green Team have already developed a Water Management Policy that is slowly being implemented in the lodge.  Initiatives include moving away from a manicured garden to let the natural vegetation back into the camp – vegetation that doesn’t need any artificial watering while still maintaining a pleasing aesthetic about it.  The little garden area that does need watering is watered late in the afternoons when evapouration is lower, and only watered when necessary.  The Land Rovers are no longer cleaned with hose pipes that wasted lots of water, but instead our trackers make use of a bucket and sponge to achieve the same results in a more water efficient manner.  Guest rooms are fitted with dual-flush cisterns in the toilets to save water on that front, and are encouraged to reuse their towels so as not to add to water usage in the laundry.

Natural vegetation now lines the camp's pathways as opposed to water-thirsty gardens
Many of the steps taken already, and future steps that will be implemented are small, but collectively, we hope to be able to reduce our annual water consumption each year through refinement of our policy and the creation of awareness of the staff and guests alike.

If you too would like to make a difference, please feel free to read through some of these water saving techniques that you too can implement in your own home!
Water-saving technology for the home includes:
  • Low-flow shower heads sometimes called energy-efficient shower heads as they also use less energy,
  • Low-flush toilets and composting toilets. These have a dramatic impact in the developed world, as conventional Western toilets use large volumes of water.
  • Dual flush toilets created by Caroma includes two buttons or handles to flush different levels of water. Dual flush toilets use up to 67% less water than conventional toilets.
  • Saline water (sea water) or rain water can be used for flushing toilets.
  • Faucet aerators, which break water flow into fine droplets to maintain "wetting effectiveness" while using less water. An additional benefit is that they reduce splashing while washing hands and dishes.
  • Wastewater reuse or recycling systems, allowing:
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • High-efficiency clothes washers
  • Weather-based irrigation controllers
  • Garden hose nozzles that shut off water when it is not being used, instead of letting a hose run.
  • using low flow taps in wash basins
  • Swimming pool covers that reduce evaporation and can warm pool water to reduce water, energy and chemical costs.
  • Automatic faucet is a water conservation faucet that eliminates water waste at the faucet. It automates the use of faucets without the use of hands.
Water can also be conserved by landscaping with native plants and by changing behavior, such as shortening showers and not running the faucet while brushing teeth.
  • Use waste water for growth of plants and trees
For more, go see 100 Ways To Conserve Water

 Thank you for reading, and we trust that you had a happy, sustainable World Water Day 2013!

Motswari Team

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