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EXPO: WaterTec Africa 2011 Aims to Avert Water Crisis


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South Africa’s annual renewable freshwater supply per capita currently stands at between 1 000 to 1 700 cubic metres, but this will likely shrink to less than 500m³ by 2025, according to the World Resources Institute. Any amount less than 1 000m³ per person means that water stress will begin to hamper economic development, environmental sustainability and human health.

In order to prevent this dangerous consequence, South Africa needs to invest R2.6-billion (US$ 365 million) on water infrastructure every year until 2030 – or severe water shortages will occur. While it would seem that the risk is decades away from becoming reality (the country’s current water supply will be adequate until 2025), it takes 20 years to build a new dam, and current infrastructure must be adequately maintained or replaced to keep pace with this timeline. There is an urgent need for these issues to be addressed by the industry before it is too late for important decisions to be made.

WaterTec Africa 2011, taking place for the fourth time from 7 to 9 June 2011at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, will investigate possible solutions to the water crisis and explore positive development of a sustainable water industry.
WaterTec is one of the largest water industry exhibitions on the continent, featuring a full roster of products, equipment and services associated with sourcing, extracting and storing water, treatment for potable water, water supply, delivery, collection, treatment and disposal of wastewater and acid mine drainage (AMD), renovation and rehabilitation of pipe and sewerage systems, drainage and flood prevention, irrigation and desalination.

The South African Association of Water Utilities (SAAWU) and the Institute of Municipal Engineering of Southern Africa (IMESA) are welcome newcomers among a large number of organisations which are providing support for the event.

“Without a doubt it is essential that we focus firmly on all aspects of water management to ensure that this vital component of life is readily available today, tomorrow and into the future,” says SAAWU Chief Executive, Ntombenhle Thombeni.

“Water knows no boundaries, just like this event that brings people in the water sector together from all over the world. It will enhance our understanding of the problems and focus our plans to meet the needs of water service delivery and water management.”

“From our perspective, the major need is in the introduction of water demand management to curb the growth in demand for water,” says Richard Holden, a business analyst in the office of the Chief Operating Officer of SAAWU. “Although the Department of Water Affairs has produced numerous documents over the years showing that there will be no surplus water to allocate by 2025, there has been no noticeable reduction in the growth in water demand. If this trend continues it will result in drastic interventions to curb demand in future. The approach of ‘waiting until there is a crisis’ is now seen with acid mine drainage. The problem has been common knowledge for years but no-one has been prepared to do anything about it, least of all consumers paying higher prices for water.”

Holden is aware of the benefits that WaterTec Africa could have for the industry as a whole. “As an organisation representing utilities across the entire value chain, we believe that such an exhibition can provide a major focal point in bringing our technical staff together to share their experience with suppliers, and ensure that innovation fulfils our members’ needs,” he says.

According to Jaco Burger, President of the South African Irrigation Institute (SABI), the condition of water engineering in South Africa is fairly sound, and can be compared with the best in the world, but faces several key challenges including the growing demand for water, as well as the need for younger people in the water sector. “It is my perception there are not enough young people seeking careers in the water sector.”

“It is my opinion that the major development in the water sector will be in the establishment of the Catchment Management Agencies and Water User Associations and the transfer of many Department of Water Affairs functions to these institutions, which should improve the efficient use of water significantly,” he says. “With the greater demand on the water resource, the professional people in the industry will become more relevant and the pressure on these professionals will increase to find unique solutions for unique problems and challenges.”

The exhibition is supported by many organisations:
• Association of Steel Tube and Pipe Manufacturers of South Africa (ASTPM)
• Department of Water Affairs
• South African Association of Water Utilities (SAAWU)
• African Water Association (AfWA/AAE)
• Corrosion Institute of Southern Africa
• Institute of Municipal Engineering of Southern Africa (IMESA)
• South African Capital Equipment Export Council (SACEEC)
• South African Irrigation Institute (SABI)
• South African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (SAPPMA)
• South African Pump Manufacturers Association (SAPMA)
• South African Valve and Actuator Manufacturers Association (SAVAMA)

A conference will take place alongside the WaterTec Africa exhibition, focusing on the maintenance of water quality and infrastructure in Africa. Topics will include funding of dams and pipelines, water balance funding, water security, water management, effective water governance, re-use of water, saving water, leak prevention, water losses, water tariffs, waste water in industry and its management.

WaterTec Africa is co-located with the seventh international Pumps Valves and Pipes Africa (PVPA) exhibition.

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