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Aecom offers water resilience expertise

February 2020 News

South Africa is classified as a water-scarce country, with some projections estimating that, at present, it exploits roughly 98% of its available water-supply resources. In many areas, the water challenge is looming ever larger.

“When a severe multi-year drought, coupled with difficult water-management parameters is experienced, such as was the case in the Western Cape from 2015 to 2018, water-crisis conditions hold serious implications and challenge everyone concerned,” highlights Hanine van Deventer, senior engineer at Aecom.

During the ‘Day Zero’ crisis in October 2017, when the City of Cape Town predicted it would effectively run out of water by March 2018, Aecom was approached by various private companies to provide professional services that would improve their resilience in response to water-supply interruptions.

This was driven largely by commercial interests, as well as liability concerns in terms of safety and insurance requirements. Other aspects were the long-term goal of reduced utility costs, or ultimate independence from the municipal water supply.

“Some clients noticed the impending crisis, requested budget and engaged early. Some were more structured, but many left these interventions too late and were required to respond to all the critical concerns simultaneously to manage the immediate crisis,” points out van Deventer.

The emergency solutions and mitigations ranged from fairly innovative to more radical measures. Water-saving initiatives included replacement of conventional sanitary fittings with water-saving technology. Supplementary water sources were also investigated. These included rain and grey water harvesting, reclaimed groundwater, potable water tanker supply (trucking water in via tanker water service) and use of bottled drinking water.

“When faced with the daunting task of implementing infrastructure to combat an unprecedented event such as ‘Day Zero’ in Cape Town, stakeholders are often not aware of the level of intervention required,” concludes van Deventer. “In a world where climate, environmental and demographic changes impact our access to water, it is imperative to ensure that the risks posed to water security are mitigated effectively by improving our state of resilience.”

For more information contact Lara Lombard, Aecom, +27 12 421 3832, lara.lombard@aecom.com, www.aecom.com




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