What are some solutions in response to water scarcity?

Posted by Vivek Mehta on 29 May, 2018

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33 Solutions

Wastewater reclamation to meet potable water demand

Posted by Deepthi Ravindran on 25 Jun, 2018

Flanked on both sides by deserts, Namibia is amongst the most arid countries in the world. Windhoek, its capital is situated in the central highlands with a mean annual precipitation of 370mm, evaporation of over 3,000mm and 750km from the nearest perennial river. For more than five decades Windhoek has managed to stretch its limited potable water resources through strict water management, including wastewater reclamation and direct potable reuse. After years at or near the top of the media agenda, water conservation habits are well ingrained in the minds of the city’s residents. Per capita use is 180 litres/day and unaccounted for water is only 10%. Water supply is based on a combination of limited surface water and groundwater resources and due to their highly uncertain nature, the city council put in place a comprehensive integrated water demand management programme in 1994 to ensure water security for the city. Direct potable water reuse started in 1968 and has been a feature of the city’s water supply ever since. The original scheme was replaced by a new plant in 2002. Operating at 73% of its capacity the new plant provides more than 18,000m3 /day of drinking water. This is 26% of Windhoek’s water demand and is part of a total re-use system in which very little water is either wasted or returned to the river system.

Key Elements:

  • Multibarrier approach to ensure safe and aesthetically acceptable potable water.
  • Guaranteed water quality values.
  • Blending of reclaimed water with freshwater.
  • 20 year operation and maintenance agreement.
  • Public awareness campaigns for water saving and acceptability of direct potable water reuse.
  • Project financing: by the KFW (Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau) (40%), the European Investment Bank (55%) and the City of Windhoek (5%).

Key Outcomes:

  • Availability of additional 7,500,000m3 /yr of potable water at a similar cost to other sources. 
  • Availability of reclaimed water from the old plant for the irrigation of parks, sports fields and pasture. 
  • Deferment of expensive infrastructure to transport water from alternative water sources at a greater distance. 
  • Continued acceptance by the public of potable water from reclaimed waste water. 
  • Reinforcement of high levels of water demand management and conservation practices. 
  • The impact of returned downstream flows on the basin is minimal as there is little downstream water demand.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Emergency water demand management

Posted by Samar Rizvi on 25 Jun, 2018

Beaufort West in South Africa is a town with a population of 35,000 on the main road between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Average rainfall is only 265mm/yr with a high level of variability and given the town’s heavy dependence on water stored in a single dam on an ephemeral river there was always the risk of a water crisis developing. By the end of the 2008/09 rainy season water reserves were low and in November 2009 the town’s main water source, the Gamka Dam, ran dry. Causes contributing to this situation included low rainfall, uncontrolled water consumption (up by 44% in six years), insufficient planning and the high cost attached to new water resource development options. The critical situation forced action and by the time the town emerged from the crisis it had been transformed into a model of water conservation and demand management. By the end of the crisis two new pieces of water infrastructure had materialised; expansion to the existing small groundwater well field and most significantly a water reclamation plant designed to save up to 2,000m3 of water per day or 28% of the town’s overall water demand.

Key Elements:

  • Sudden and deep water crisis acting as a catalyst for action including the raising of funds.
  • Reduced water consumption through public awareness campaign.
  • Reduced consumption through pressure reduction.
  • Aggressive water tariff structure.
  • Severe water restrictions.
  • Water scheduling.
  • Construction of waste water reclamation plant.

Key Outcomes:

  • Addition of two new water sources to guarantee a stable water supply; groundwater and a waste water reclamation plant producing potable water.
  • Change in the water conservation mentality of the townspeople including the acceptance of reclaimed waste water as a source of potable water.
  • Improved management of the town's water resources.
  • Country-wide awareness of the importance of water demand management and conservation in a water-stressed country.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Domestic and business retrofit project

Posted by Eli Martinez on 25 Jun, 2018

In response to long-term drought, Sydney Water launched the 'Every Drop Counts' initiative. The project is a key element of WaterPlan 21, a long-term strategy for sustainable water and wastewater management. In the past Sydney Water implemented infrastructure upgrades to dams, networks and wastewater treatment facilities. However, it was also realised that the demand for water consumption also needed to be addressed. 

The 'Every Drop Counts' initiative has helped reduce the environmental impact of hard engineering whilst addressing water efficiency from the grass roots level. The initial aim of the project was to encourage residents of Sydney to consume less domestic water. Since then, Sydney Water has expanded the initiative to incorporate businesses, helping them to reduce their water consumption and to benefit from reduced costs. 

The success of the programme has been widely noticed and it received the prestigious Stockholm Industry Water Award in 2006, the first time an Australian organisation received the award.

Key Elements:

  • Promoting the use of water efficient devices. - Inspection of mains infrastructure.
  • Reaching out to the business sector, such as; clubs, hotels, commercial premises and commercial shopping centres.
  • Work with businesses to: identify technical solutions to water management problems, educate, managers and employees, and encourage citizenship.

Key Outcomes:

  • Projects implemented by Sydney Water since 2001 have helped to save 12,410,000m3 /yr which would otherwise have been lost to the ocean.
  • Water use per capita was reduced from 411 litres/day in 2001 to 297 litres/day in 2012.
  • 18,080km of mains were inspected and repaired between 2006 and 2007, saving of more than 20,000m3 /yr through reduced leakage.
  • By July 2010, almost 420 large water using businesses were 'Every Drop Counts' partners.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Behavioural change initiative

Posted by Theresa Brooks on 25 Jun, 2018

In 1995, nearly 11 million people felt the effects of water scarcity in a widescale Spanish drought. This highlighted the need for a change in water useage. Zaragoza, located in Northern Spain, launched its Water Saving City project in early 1997 with the aim of changing the wasteful water behaviour and increasing efficient use. An ambitious target of saving 1 000 000m3 of domestic water consumption in one year was set and achieved. The project has shown that it is possible to deal with a shortage of water in an urban domestic setting, using a cost efficient, quick, ecological and contention free approach.

The project used a partnership approach, with funding coming through multiple sources. The European LIFE programme provided 46% of the funding. The rest was provided by the Zaragoza City Council (17%), the Aragon Regional Government (17%), Ibercaja (12%), the Four Companies (6%) and the Fundacion Ecologia y Desarollo (2%).

Key Elements:

  • Engagement with the general public through various media.
  • Educating the public through campaigns and a practical handbook on efficient water use in the home.
  • Targeted influencing of the younger generation through education schemes within schools.
  • Engagement with businesses selling domestic water products.
  • Development of the '50 Good Practices' guide, covering water use in gardens, parks and buildings of public and industrial use.

Key Outcomes:

  • Between 1997 and 2008 the population of Zaragoza increased by over 12%, yet daily water use reduced from 84,8000m3 to 61,5000m3 in the same period.
  • Per capita use reduced from 150 litres/day in 1997 to 99 litres/day in 2012.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Leakage reduction in primary schools

Posted by Deepthi Ravindran on 25 Jun, 2018

This project was undertaken to reduce unacceptable levels of leakage at the Keidebees and Vele Langa Primary Schools in Upington, South Africa. The cost of the benefits were documented so that the process could serve as a model for other schools and public buildings. The need was identified during an inspection of plumbing fittings for visual leakage in public buildings in and around the town and further underlined by an examination of consumption levels and water bills being paid by schools. 

The significance of the project is in its simplicity and cost-effectiveness since it can be easily replicated at thousands of other schools and public buildings leading to huge water savings. More significantly, much of the “wasted” water that is targeted by this type of project would otherwise be lost to evaporation and evapotranspiration rather than making its way back to the resource base via return flows or groundwater recharge. The project showed how carefully planned and properly implemented interventions can lead to tangible and significant results in a short period of time. The resultant water savings paid for the investment made within six months.

Key Elements:

  • Situational analysis through the replacement of both of the existing water meters at the school with loggable consumer meters.
  • Identification of all visible leaks around the school buildings through inspection of all fittings.
  • Repair of leaking fittings.
  • Analysis of outcomes through continuous monitoring and simple cost-benefit analysis.
  • Financed by a grant from the Department of Water Affairs.

Key Outcomes:

  • Immediate water savings in the order of 50m3 /day between the two schools.
  • Average water bills at the schools were more than halved and the financial savings would have paid for the interventions within six months.
  • Students were exposed to the importance of water conservation during an education and awareness building session that was included as part of the project.
  • A carefully and accurately monitored example quantifying savings for replication by other schools and public buildings. 

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Use of seawater in dual municipal water supply

Posted by Siddhant Bhandari on 25 Jun, 2018

Hong Kong has limited freshwater resources within its administrative boundaries. Its 7 million residents currently consume 951,000,000m3 of freshwater every year, 80% of which is purchased and conveyed from Guangdong Province in China. Prior to the 1960s water purchasing agreement, shortages and rationing were very common with many instances when water was supplied for only a few hours every three or four days, which posed a significant public health risk. 

The project to use seawater for flushing toilets was initiated 50 years ago to address the public health risk and to reduce demand on the limited freshwater resources. This has helped to ensure that the city is able to meet its water demands. 

The system has expanded over fifty years and now comprises of forty five service reservoirs, forty pumping stations and over 1400km of pipes with corrosion protection. The fixed asset cost of the seawater infrastructure is estimated at $737m by the Water Serviced Department of Hong Kong. 

The system provides 27,000,000m3 of seawater per year to a population of 5.5 million. However when the seawater is polluted due to red tides caused by algal blooms, the network has also conveyed freshwater to maintain supply.

Key Elements:

  • Dual reticulated water supply serving the majority of the city’s population.
  • Use of seawater for toilet flushing and evaporative cooling.
  • 37% lower energy consumption of seawater supply in comparison to freshwater supply.
  • Seawater is supplied free of charge to all consumers.

Key Outcomes:

  • 22% of the total municipal water demand is met by seawater.
  • 17 million kWh lower energy use by using seawater instead of freshwater due to reduced treatment and conveyance.
  • Enables freshwater use restrictions to be implemented without public health concerns in event of future water shortages.
  • Estimated capital and operating cost over 60 years of $4,425m for the dual supply system. This is 40% lower than the estimated $6,143m for a single freshwater supply system.
  • Saving of $160m/yr in bulk water purchases from Guangdong province. 

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Aquifer recharge with stormwater

Posted by Theresa Brooks on 25 Jun, 2018

Overall water demand of the Adelaide metropolitan area, Australia is around 200,000,000m3 /yr. In a dry year up to 90% of this must be met from the highly stressed River Murray which is suffering from increased salinity, over extraction, increasing pollution and dying ecosystems. In 2003 Adelaide experienced extensive water restrictions for the first time since a major transfer pipeline was built in 1954. As a result a number of strategies have been developed to address the supply demand imbalance and to secure sustainable water supplies into the future. Recognising that up to 90% of demand for potable water supply could be replaced with non-potable supply the City of Salisbury implemented the collection, storage and distribution of stormwater run-off that would have otherwise discharged to the Gulf of St Vincent. By 2009 the city had established 20 wetlands for treatment of stormwater and twenty two aquifer storage boreholes. 5,000,000m3 of stormwater was collected in the wet months, stored and then distributed in the dry months. It is anticipated that this figure could rise to 14,000,000m3 by 2014. The capital investment up to 2009 cost approximately US$52m.

Key Elements:

  • Urban stormwater harvesting from the engineered drainage network.
  • Constructed wetlands and small footprint bio filtration technology for treatment prior to storage.
  • Storage of treated water in a confined aquifer. - Non-potable distribution system (“Purple” pipe system).
  • Funded by grants and money borrowed by the City of Salisbury against future income from sales to customers. 

Key Outcomes:

  • The treatment and reuse of 5,000,000m3 /yr of non-potable water.
  • 20% of all injected water maintained within the aquifer (260,000m3 ).
  • Avoidance of pollution to the sensitive estuary environment (Barker’s Inlet).
  • Reduced energy cost for industry due to reduced salinity.
  • Establishment of a non-potable water revenue stream.
  • Payback period of five years.
  • Consumptive use from evaporation is minimised through storage in the aquifer.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Advanced pressure management

Posted by Samar Rizvi on 25 Jun, 2018

Khayelitsha is one of the largest townships in South Africa with a popultaion of 450,000. It is located approximately 20km from Cape Town Central Business District on the Cape Flats, a large flat sandy area at or near sea level. In the early 2000s, an investigation into leakage levels established that the water lost could almost fill an Olympic sized swimming pool every hour. The main source was identified as household leakage and in particular poor quality plumbing fittings which have been badly damaged through constant exposure to high pressure. Such leakage resulted in very high water use in most properties and high levels of non-payment since the customers could not afford to pay for new taps and toilet fittings, let alone their high water bills. The Khayelitsha Pressure Management Project was commissioned in 2001 to improve the level of service to the Khayelitsha community by reducing the excessive water pressure and pressure fluctuations in the reticulation system, particularly during the off-peak periods of low demand. Resultant water savings were immediate, sustainable and exceeded the most optimistic projections, amounting to almost 40% of the original supply.

Key Elements:

  • Measurement of night flows to estimate leakage levels.
  • Extensive community consultation and participation at all stages of the project created favourable conditions for project implementation.
  • Labour-based construction using locally available labour was an important part of the project and a prerequisite for community support.
  • Advanced pressure management techniques were employed to reduce the excessive water pressure and pressure fluctuations in the reticulation system.
  • Financing of $700,000 was provided by the municipality.

Key Outcomes:

  • Major savings on water purchases from the bulk water supplier: four month payback.
  • Reduced wastage of water through leakage repairs especially on internal reticulation networks.
  • Water savings of approximately 9,000,000m3 /yr achieved representing $5m per annum of bulk water purchases.
  • Awareness and education efforts have helped to create consumer support for water use efficiency in the area.
  • In this local context the reduction of leakage reduces consumptive use as in this location leakage is generally lost to saline sources.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Water loss management programme

Posted by Eli Martinez on 25 Jun, 2018

Between 2000 and 2010 Australia experienced extended periods of drought that increased the strain on water resources. In response to this, the Water Loss Management Programme (WLMP) was jointly initiated between the Local Government Association of New South Wales (NSW) and the Shires Association of NSW,the Water Directorate and the Australian Government through the Water Smart Australia programme. The aim of the WLMP was to support smaller Local Water Utilities (LWUs) in their efforts to reduce leakage from their drinking water distribution systems. The batching of projects under WLMP also allowed eligibility with federal government funding criteria. Specialist knowledge and equipment were provided to LWUs in order to help identify, develop and implement leakage reduction projects. The original programme design and budget was based upon a four year term from 2006-2010 and planned to engage with 33 LWUs across NSW. Eventually, the programme was extended to a five year term (2006-2011) and engaged with 75 LWUs. The WLMP achieved ongoing water savings of 5,518,000m3 /year.

Key Elements:

  • Production of training material and provision of expertise in leakage reduction to guide small water utilities without in-house technical expertise.
  • Leakage detection and repair.
  • Installation of flow meters, establishment of distribution zones and installation of Pressure Reducing Valves.
  • Batching of projects to access Australian Federal Government funding.
  • The $9.2m cost (2013 prices) was funded through the Government, LWUs and in-kind contributions from other partners.

Key Outcomes:

  • 80 investigation projects were undertaken with 75 LWUs.
  • 61 projects received a funding agreement to undertake a water loss management project.
  • The programme achieved on-going water savings of 5,518,000m3 /year.
  • 1 million kWh in energy savings and 1.2 million Kg CO2 e reduction in emmisions were achieved due to reduced abstraction, pumping and treatment requirements.
  • Technical capability in water loss management techniques was established within LWUs.
  • Infrastructure enhancements were instigated to enable sustainability of water savings.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Regional water conservation programme

Posted by Siddhant Bhandari on 25 Jun, 2018

The Saving Water Partnership (SWP) is a group of utilities within Seattle & King County in the US, formed with the objective of reducing water demands while the economy and population of the region continue to increase. In the year 2000 The Saving Water Partnership implemented a programme called the ‘Regional 1% Water Conservation Programme’. The programme promoted a per capita reduction in water use by 1% per year for ten years and covered a service area of 1.3 million people. The first two years of the programme were ‘ramp-up years’ for programme measures, staffing and funding. 

The programme was motivated by the recognition that the cheapest way to ensure future supply requirements are met is to manage demand. The programme achieved its targets and water consumption in the region is at its lowest level for fifty years.

Key Elements:

  • The main drivers of the programme were to reduce the risk to water supply arising from climate change and the predicted high future cost of water supply.
  • The programme was financed by the utilities through water tariff revenue.
  • Measures to reduce water use such as low flush toilets and washing machines with lower water consumption.
  • Rebates were offered to utility company customers who purchased low water use technology.
  • Household water rates were increased for the top 15% of water consumers to encourage the reduction of water use.

Key Outcomes:

  • Installation of 345,678 low water use fittings by customers between 2000 and 2010.
  • Water savings of 3,700m3 /day through use of low water use washing machines.
  • Cumulative total of 363,000m3 /day water saving between 2000 and 2010. These savings were calculated using the water savings made from the hardware sold as well as pre and post water bill readings.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Direct dry cooling in the power sector

Posted by Mai Nguyen on 25 Jun, 2018

Water resources are under considerable pressure in South Africa however they are critical for the production of electricity. Eskom, South Africa’s and the African continents leading electricity supplier is a government owned utility that provides electricity to almost 95% of all end users in South Africa, and close on 60% of the entire electricity consumption on the African continent. Eskom’s coal fired power stations are steam driven using highly purified water and there is an effort to recover and re-use water due to the high costs in production and water scarcity. Eskom have a zero discharge policy and water is only lost from the plants during the condensation of the spent steam and as ash slurry. 

In the financial year of 2010/11, the Eskom fleet consumed a total of 327,000,000m3 of water during the power generation process. If innovative technologies for more efficient cooling using less water had not been implemented, this consumption would have been at 530,000,000m3 . 

Matimba Power Station in the Limpopo Province is an example where direct dry cooling has been implemented to reduce water consumption. Limpopo Province is one of South Africa's richest agricultural areas but also particularly dry and unable to meet its water needs from its local supplies. Matimba Power Station is the largest direct-dry-cooled station in the world, with an installed capacity of greater than 4,000MW. It makes use of closed-circuit cooling technology reducing water consumption to around 0.1 litre per kWh of electricity distributed.

Key Elements:

  • The main driver for this intervention was the medium to long-term water resource security. This is under threat due to conflicting demands for the right to use water, depleted environmental flows, population and economic growth and the implications of climate change.
  • Installation of a direct dry cooling system to reduce water losses during the condensation of the spent steam.

Key Outcomes:

  • Water use in Matimba power station is in the order of 0.1 litres per kWh of electricity produced.
  • In comparison wet cooling system power stations use 1.9 litres per kWh of electricity produced.
  • Water savings of 62,500,000m3 /yr.
  • Reduction in average unit power output of 1% compared to a comparable wet cooling system.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Water reuse in the power and steel production sector

Posted by Theresa Brooks on 25 Jun, 2018

The Essar steel and power plants are located in Gujarat, India. The power plant is a multi-fuel combined-cycle plant using 3,900,000m3 of water per annum and generating 515MW of power. The Essar steel facility is located adjacent to the power plant and with a steel-making capacity of ten million tonnes per year is the fourth largest steel factory in the world. Both plants abstract water from the river Tapti and wastewater effluent is discharged into the sea. 

In order to reduce the combined water footprint of the sites the power plant cooling system has been improved to reduce the freshwater demand. Blow down water that was previously discharged to the ocean is now transferred to the steel plant. In addition, wastewater from the steel plant is being treated for reuse in the power plant and for localised irrigation of landscaping. These interventions have reduced the demand on freshwater in the power plant by 835,000m3 /yr and in the steel factory by 644,000m3 /yr.

Key Elements:

  • Changes in the material specification of the powerplant condenser in order to increase the acceptable chloride concentration in the cooling towers.
  • Transfer of cooling system blowdown water from the power plant to the steel plant for use as make up water.
  • Recovery of backwash and clarifier sludge water in the water treatment works. 
  • Installation of a natural swale system for filtration of surface runoff and subsequent use for irrigation.
  • The project cost of $380,000 was funded by Essar Gujarat.

Key Outcomes:

  • 86% of power plant waste water reused which would have otherwise been discharged to the ocean.
  • 45% of recycled wastewater used in the steel plant.
  • Total fresh water savings of nearly 1,479,000m3 /yr
    • 381,000m3 /yr fresh water savings from increasing the chloride concentration of water used in the cooling towers.
    • 644,000m3 /yr fresh water saving from reuse of Essar power plant blow down water in Essar steel plant process .
    • Fresh water savings of 105,000m3 /yr by use of water extracted from clarifier sludge.
    • 349,000m3 /year fresh water saving from reuse of recovered backwash water.
  • Payback periods:
    • Reducing blow down water in cooling tower: 1.1 years.
    • Reuse of power plant blow down water in steel plant: 4.8 months.
    • Recovering backwash water: 4.6 months. - Recovering water from sludge: 2.2 years.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Water recycling in the food sector

Posted by Francesca Sereni on 25 Jun, 2018

Durban, located on the eastern coast of South Africa, is one of the country’s fastest-growing cities and its second-largest industrial centre. It is an area with high water stress and is expected to become dependent on desalination in future years. The demand for water by the industrial sector presents an additional challenge to the city authorities in meeting the water supply needs of the city and effective management of water resources. 

Unilever, a global consumer goods firm, opened their $72m Indonsa factory in 2012. It is their second largest dry food goods factory. To reduce the use of municipal water supply, the factory makes use of alternate sources of water, such as rainwater harvesting and condensate recovery. In addition, it recycles most of the process water and greywater produced in the factory. These measures have resulted in the factory being one of the most water efficient dry food producing factories. Under normal circumstances, the need to use water from municipal supply has been almost eliminated, making available up to 12,000m3 of water for the local community per year. 

Unilever was not required to implement these water efficiency measures, but they were implemented as part of Unilever’s sustainability policies and do not provide a direct financial payback to the firm.

Key Elements:

  • Harvesting rainwater from 22,000m2 of factory roof.
  • Air conditioner condensate captured and treated for use in toilet flushing.
  • Process water from the factory and the greywater from showers captured for re-use.
  • Central water treatment plant which includes biological treatment and reverse osmosis.

Key Outcomes:

  • 80% of water demand met by on site water recycling of water that would have otherwise discharged to the ocean.
  • 20% of the water demand met by harvested rainwater and condensate capture.
  • Reduction in rainfall runoff from the site reducing the risk of surface water flooding in nearby communities.
  • Up to 65,000 tonnes of dry goods produced per year with minimal dependence on municipal water supply.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Wastewater reclamation and reuse network

Posted by Siddhant Bhandari on 25 Jun, 2018

Singapore has a population of over five million people with a demand of 1,700,000m3 /day, this is forecast to double within 50 years with 70% of demand being from the non-domestic sector. Although rainfall averages 254mm/yr, Singapore has limited natural water resources due to its small land area of 700km2 ; as a result it has historically relied on imported water. In the late 1990s Singapore initiated a programme to become increasingly self-sufficient in water supply. One component of the programme, called NEWater, involves the collection of treated wastewater flows that would have otherwise been discharged to the ocean, followed by treatment using dual membrane and ultraviolet technologies to produce potable standard water. This is currently used to supply 350,000m3 /day mainly for non-potable industrial use and cooling. This is equivalent to 30% of Singapore’s daily water demand and forecast to rise to 50% of demand by 2030.

Key Elements:

  • Collection and advanced treatment of treated wastewater flows that would have been discharged into the ocean.
  • Four NEWater plants established between 2002 and 2010 with a capacity of over 500,000m3 /day. Two early plants were funded by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and the other two were on Design Build Own Operate contracts.
  • An extensive water sampling and testing programme to demonstrate the safety of reclaimed water.
  • Distribution of bottled reclaimed water to publicly demonstrate its safety. 

Key Outcomes:

  • Growing public acceptance of NEWater as a source of supply.
  • Growth in use of NEWater from 27,000m3 /day in 2003 to 350,000m3 /day in 2012 offsetting the withdrawals required from existing freshwater resources.
  • NEWater is mainly used for non-potable industrial and commercial uses, in cooling systems and supplementing Singapore’s potable water supply via indirect potable use.
  • NEWater currently meets 30% of Singapore’s total water demand and is projected to meet up to 55% of Singapore’s water demand by 2060.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Water optimisation in mining sector

Posted by Mai Nguyen on 25 Jun, 2018

Xstrata’s Lomas Bayas copper mine is located 120km northeast of the port of Antofagasta, Chile. The mine is located on a desert with an annual rainfall of approximately 1mm and produces approximately 75,000 tonnes of copper each year. Xstrata’s copper operations use a process called heap leaching where a mildly acidic solution is sprayed over crushed copper ore to leach out the mineral – the process uses a significant proportion of the mine’s total water demand. The desert conditions of blue sky, high solar radiation, strong winds and very low air humidity give rise to very high evaporation rates in the order of 15mm/day. Water supply for the leach pads is withdrawn from the Loa River in the municipality of Calama and pumped 100km to the mine site. The site's water withdrawal is restricted to 5,794,000m3 . In order to continue expanding its operations without relying on additional water resources, Lomas Bayas investigated opportunities to improve its water efficiency including replacing the original leach pad sprinkler system with a drip system that significantly reduced the water lost to evaporation.

Key Elements:

  • The main driver of this project was to reduce water loss due to evaporation.
  • Targets were set to optimise water consumption. - New technology was put in place to reduce water loss on the leach pads.
  • The implementation of the project was part financed by Xstrata Copper, with support from local academic centres and funding from the Chilean Corfo Innova Mining Programme to identify methods to reduce evaporation rates.

Key Outcomes:

  • The evaporative loss in the leaching process has been reduced by 54% from 9.8 to 4.5 litres of water per square metre per day between 2008-2013.
  • The area of leach pad at the mine has increased from 540,000m2 in 2008 to 1,000,000m2 in 2012 without increasing the water demand.
  • The drip feed system optimised the use of water of the Lomas Bayas site by 19% when comparing to the use of the previous sprinkler system.
  • Savings in evaporative loss have been utilised for mine expansion.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Water use reduction strategy in the food sector

Posted by Justin Kuhlmann on 25 Jun, 2018

Towards the end of 2010, the Western Cape region in South Africa experienced its worst drought in more than 130 years. In the Mossel Bay area, the level of the Wolvedans Dam dropped to less than 20% full at the height of the drought threatening the operation of the Nestlé factory. The plant in Mossel Bay takes in approximately 320m3 of milk per day and processes it to condensed milk and powdered milk. In 2009, the average monthly water consumption at the factory was approximately 23,700m3 equivalent to 14.8m3 of water consumed per tonne of product produced. The project involved the implementation of a water use reduction strategy, actions included active monitoring of water use, engineering interventions to enable condensate reuse, retrofitting of low flow plumbing fixtures and active employee participation. The strategy was successful in reducing the plant’s water consumption by approximately 50%.

Key Elements:

  • The project cost of $145,000 was fully financed by Nestle to reduce business risk.
  • Installation of a water measurement system to map and monitor water usage.
  • Recovery and use of condensate from the milk evaporation process.
  • Implementation of low flow plumbing fixtures.
  • Active engagement of staff to reinforce water saving culture.

Key Outcomes:

  • The factory reduced its water use by approximately 50% from 284,000m3 /yr to 163,000m3 /yr.
  • Water withdrawn per tonne of product produced was reduced from 14.8m3 to 7.5m3 .
  • Reduced water withdrawal from the Wolvedans Dam resulted in greater water availability for the Mossel Bay area.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Water reuse in textile sector

Posted by Mai Nguyen on 25 Jun, 2018

Tiruppur is a mid-sized industrial town located in the upper hydrological basin of the Cauvery River in India. The basin suffers from water scarcity due to erratic seasonal rainfall, limited reservoir capacity and a high demand on the already limited resource. The city is a hub of textile industry accounting for 80% of India’s knitwear production and generating over $1 billion of exports per year. 

The water supply to the textile industry is abstracted from the River Bhavani, over 50km away, whilst effluent industry is discharged to the Noyyal River. The river and groundwater system suffers from severe water quality issues as a result of effluent discharges from industry. This in turn has affected the agricultural potential of downstream lands. To address this the Indian High Court mandated zero liquid discharge from the textile industry. To comply with the decision, nine existing effluent treatment plants were upgraded with a combined reverse osmosis and thermal evaporation system, which enables 96% of the effluent to be treated and returned as freshwater. As a result the demand on the municipal water supply has been reduced by 876,000m3 /year. The intervention has been driven by the court order and has resulted in very high capital and operating costs.

Key Elements:

  • Court mandated environmental improvements.
  • Finance from government grants, soft loans and industry for the upgrade and operation of existing effluent treatment plants.
  • Installation of a combined Reverse Osmosis and Thermal Evaporation treatment system.
  • Additional revenue streams established through the sale of reclaimed water and extracted dye salts.

Key Outcomes:

  • Water demand on the River Bhavani reduced from 1,200,000m3 /yr to approximately 300,000m3 /yr.
  • 96% of the effluent recovered for re-supply as freshwater to the industry.
  • Capture of dye salts from effluent stream for reuse by the industry.
  • Zero discharge of effluent to the Noyyal river with consequent impact on water quality.
  • Payback period of 15 years.
  • Operating cost of $4/m3 /yr.
  • Withdrawals are reduced, but this is offset by the zero return flows, although benefit to the basin is accrued from improved water quality. This has been achieved at a very high financial cost.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Water efficiency audits of steam systems

Posted by Deepak Singh on 25 Jun, 2018

Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world with its supply of freshwater becoming increasingly susceptible to drought and climate variability. City West Water (CWW) is one of Melbourne’s three retail water businesses and over 100 of CWW’s large business customers use steam within their processes. CWW launched a programme focused on assisting business customers to understand how they can make steam systems more efficient. Steam systems were targeted because energy efficiency improvements are typically effective with a high likelihood of implementation. For example, the energy use per 1,000m3 of water used in a steam system in Melbourne is over 300 times higher than the energy used to supply water and treat wastewater combined. As such, initiatives to improve the efficiency of steam systems simultaneously reduces water and energy use. The programme involves conducting site audits and the provision of training courses as well as investigating and implementing technical improvements. CWW also offers grants for cost effective water efficiency actions to leverage business sector investment. The programme commenced in June 2010 and to date it has achieved water savings of 11,000m3 /yr and greenhouse gas reduction of 893 tonnes CO2 equivalent (CO2 e).

Key Elements:

  • Audits of customers business to identify water and energy losses.
  • Provision of detailed information to customers on best engineering practices to improve steam system performance.
  • Delivery of training courses to facility managers and maintenance personnel on how to optimise energy and water use.
  • The two-part programme was funded by CWW as a research programme with a contribution of $50 000 from Environment Protection Authority Victoria. The cost to businesses for implementing the interventions was $48 000.
  • Availability of grants to co-fund water and water related energy efficiency actions.

Key Outcomes:

  • Across the programme, 30 audits were conducted and 150 actions were identified.
  • To date, 25 actions have been implemented, achieving reductions in withdrawal of 11,000m3 /year of water, 17,400GJ/yr of gas, and greenhouse gas reductions of 893 tonnes CO2 e/yr.
  • Other actions being implemented or planned will achieve reductions in withdrawal of 100,000m3 /yr of water, 53,400GJ/yr of gas, 68,000kWh/year of electricity and greenhouse gas reductions of 2,823 tonnes CO2 e/yr.
  • Consumptive use decreased through recovery of vented steam, condensate and reduction in steam leaks.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Metering of non-revenue water

Posted by Justin Kuhlmann on 25 Jun, 2018

Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM) is the industrial heartland of South Africa and supplies approximately 314,000,000m3 /year to 800,000 households. Metering of the top consumers in EMM had not been a high priority for many years with the result that many of the supply meters to existing consumers were either broken or unreliable with non revenue water estimated to be around 50% of the water being used. 

In 2010 EMM launched a campaign to consolidate multiple connections into single metered supplies. The main catalyst for the project was an increasing awareness that large quantities of water were being supplied to industry without being billed. While the replacement of meters, including the consolidation of multiple connections, was the main feature of the project, other important components included the identification of illegal connections and the identification and repair of leaks. The project was the overall winner of the South African Government’s 2012 Water Conservation Awards and is now being extended to include almost 25,000 additional bulk consumer meters. Extensive work was done with consumers to explain the whole process, as a result, despite the fact that around 75% would be faced with increased water bills, there was no resistance to the project.

Key Elements:

  • Targeting of top 500 consumers by volume of water.
  • Comprehensive water audit allowing the identification of all existing connections to each consumer.
  • Zero pressure testing to check for additional supply connections not identified during the water audit.
  • Drawdown testing at fire hydrants to determine hydraulic capacity within the municipality system and to support sizing of consolidated meters.
  • Design and implementation of consolidated supply including metering of the top 500 consumers.
  • Project cost was $2.5m.

Key Outcomes:

  • Decrease of non-revenue water estimated at 5,800,000m3 /year for the first 213 consumers.
  • Increased revenue for Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality estimated at $5.4m/year.
  • Reduced wastage of water through leakage repairs especially on internal reticulation networks.
  • Creation of 20 full-time jobs and 4 660 man-days of employment over two years.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Managing water towards zero discharge

Posted by Deepthi Ravindran on 25 Jun, 2018

The Lerma Chapala Basin in Mexico is responsible for over 50% of Mexico’s exports and is home to over 10 million people yet the basin is under extreme pressure from water scarcity with an aggregated annual deficit of up to 1.8 billion m3 /yr. The main water resource in the basin is groundwater which is heavily overexploited. 

In 2010 Procter and Gamble (P&G) established the Planta Milenio manufacturing facility in the basin. In order to minimise business risk and environmental impact the plant has been designed to minimise the volume of water that must be abstracted from the basin. The total groundwater abstraction of the site had the potential to be in order of 480,000m3 /yr, however through the use of extensive on site recycling, low water use fittings and rain water harvesting the total abstraction has been reduced to 254,000m3 /yr. While the volume of water used by the plant remains largely unchanged, the volume of abstracted groundwater has been reduced by nearly 50%.

Key Elements:

  • Wastewater recycling for use as cooling water.
  • Reverse osmosis process to recycle waste streams from the water treatment plant.
  • Installation of low flow plumbing fittings to reduce domestic water use for 3 000 staff.
  • Pollution prevention measures to protect freshwater sources.
  • Rainwater harvesting to reduce water run-off and groundwater abstraction.
  • The project was 100% financed by P&G as part of a factory relocation work package.

Key Outcomes:

  • 47% reduction in ground water abstraction.
  • 50% reduction in volume of water used by staff through low plumbing fixtures.
  • Evaporation of the final wastewater discharge avoids groundwater pollution.
  • Consumptive use by the plant is unchanged. 

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Improved water management for sugarcane production

Posted by Theresa Brooks on 25 Jun, 2018

India is the world’s largest sugar consumer and the second largest producer. The livelihoods of almost 35 million people are dependent on sugarcane production and it is grown on over 4.1 million hectares within the country. However, productivity is highly variable from 40 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) to 269t/ha. In the Aurangabad district 40% of the population is involved in cultivating sugar cane with yields at around 100t/ha. Sugar cane farmers in the region have little incentive to save water; there is no charge for water use, no fixed allocation and electricity for pumping is of minimal cost. As a result whilst the annual irrigation requirement is around 1,600mm the average application of water is up to 4,000mm. The project area covers Karanjkheda, Phulambri and Gangapur and is intercepted by two seasonal tributaries of the Godavari river. Borehole, river abstraction and small check dams are the major sources of irrigation water which is distributed by approximately 20km of canals. High evaporation rates and geological features (the Deccan Traps) make water storage difficult. 

The intervention focused on introducing improved water management practices to reduce water use in parallel with improved crop practices to increase crop yield. The programme started with forty farmers and grew to over 1,000 farmers (direct project interventions). Based on an independent evaluation it is estimated that the intervention resulted in reduced water usage of up to 22,080,000m3 /yr over an area of 8,000ha and an increase in crop yield of up to 20%.

Key Elements:

  • Replacement of serpentine irrigation with furrow irrigation.
  • Irrigation scheduling dependent upon estimated soil moisture content and crop demand.
  • Improvements in soil nutrient management.
  • Application of mulching to conserve soil moisture content.
  • Incentives agreed with sugar cane buyers to pay increased prices for better quality sugar cane.

Key Outcomes:

  • 15% to 20% increase in sugarcane yield.
  • Potential of 174,900,000m3 /yr reduction in water abstraction for irrigation over the 3000 farms in the area.
  • 30% increase in gross profit margin of farmers.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Irrigation network renewal

Posted by Deepthi Ravindran on 25 Jun, 2018

The Golburn-Murray Irrigation District (GMID) covers 68,000km2 in the upper Murray Catchment and is Australia’s most extensive irrigation network with water drawn from the Murray and Goulburn Rivers. Parts of the irrigation system were antiquated with inefficiencies in the water supply system due to leakage, and inefficient farming practices, resulting in high water use. The North Victoria Irrigation Renewal Project (NVIRP) covers 85% of GMID area, and was established to reduce leakage in the irrigation water supply system and improve the efficiency of on-farm irrigation systems. The $1 229m project was funded by Government of Victoria ($737,000,000), Melbourne Water ($369,000,000), and Golburn-Murray Water ($123,000,000). 

The project involved lining of channels, automation of flow control structures, metering of supply points and installation of remote sensing and control systems on the flow control structures and farm supply points. The water entitlement trading helped transition from inefficient practices and low value crops to efficient practices and higher value crops, improving the economic productivity of the district. 

These improvements reduced the agricultural water withdrawal within the GMID without affecting crop production, reduced evaporative loss by 1,690,000m3 /year and made available 204,387,000m3 of water for environmental flows, municipal water use and additional agricultural use.

Key Elements:

  • Improvements to water supply system with real-time monitoring and control of flows.
  • Lining of main channel, improvement of on-farm channels or replacement with piped systems.
  • Installation of sprinkler and drip irrigation system to improve application of water to crops.
  • Central data repository of irrigation system flows and abstractions.
  • Real-time trading of water entitlements by farmers.

Key Outcomes:

  • Improved channel water supply efficiency from 79% to 92%, based on volumes of water delivered.
  • Enabled real-time monitoring of water supplies in the system and abstraction by users.
  • Decoupled water allocation from land and creation of Water Entitlement Entities (WEE).
  • Enabled real-time trading of the water entitlements by the WEEs.
  • 204,387,000 m3 reduction in agricultural water withdrawal due to reduced evaporative losses and reduced return flow.
  • Small reduction in consumptive use through reduced evaporative losses (1,690,000m3 /year).

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Improving water availability through wastewater treatment

Posted by Siddhant Bhandari on 25 Jun, 2018

The Segura River is about 350km long and flows from west to east discharging in to the Mediterranean on Spain’s east coast. The river passes through the entire region of Murcia which has the lowest annual rainfall in the European regions yet a population of over two million. The basin experiences an acute supply-demand imbalance as illustrated by the water scarcity index with demand exceeding the natural stream flow by 2.5 times; consequently water that is available in the river is of extremely poor quality thus further reducing resource availability. The basin is supplemented by an inter-catchment transfer from the Tajo river and desalination. Of a total demand of 1 900 million m3 /yr, 87% is for agricultural use and 10% for municipal use. 

This project, implemented over a 10-year period, improves available resource through the capture and treatment of urban and industrial waste water flows and returning them for direct or indirect re-use in irrigation. A key element to the project’s success was the enaction of policy and legislation that enforces the “Polluter Pays” principle; this enabled waste water treatment and recovery to be operated on a cost recovery basis.

Key Elements:

  • Transfer of the mandate for wastewater collection and treatment from municipalities to a region wide General Directorate of Water. 
  • Establishment of Esamur, an independent agency for operation and maintenance of treatment facilities and collection of waste water levies. 
  • Construction of 97 advanced waste water treatment plants. 
  • Construction of 350km of sewer. 
  • Introduction of a robust system for the monitoring of industrial discharges to sewers.
  • Implementation of industrial wastewater treatment at source. 
  • 75-80% co-funding from European Funds.

Key Outcomes:

  • 100,000,000m3 /year of wastewater return flows that were previously unusable now treated and made available.
  • Ability to meet 6% of irrigation demand.
  • Connection of 99% of urban areas to sewers.
  • Substantial increase in river water quality; reduction in Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) by 95%.
  • Cost recovery achieved for long term operation of treatment works.
  • Negligible discharge of untreated industrial waste to public sewers.
  • Compliance with the European Union Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.
  • An improvement in the river and near-river environment for the people of Murcia.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Water reclamation for reuse and groundwater recharge

Posted by Theresa Brooks on 25 Jun, 2018

The Conserv II project was developed in partnership by City of Orlando and Orange County, Florida, USA to upgrade the wastewater treatment systems in order to comply with a court decision and cease discharge of treated municipal wastewater into watercourses draining into Lake Tohopekaliga. The objective of the court decision was to improve water quality of Shingle Creek, Lake Tohopekaliga and its adjacent nature reserves that were being affected by municipal wastewater discharges. 

The $344m project was designed in collaboration with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It included upgrades to the municipal wastewater treatment plant, construction of a new reclaimed water distribution network and construction of Rapid Infiltration Basins for groundwater recharge. 

Almost 60% of the reclaimed water is used for irrigating landscapes in golf courses and local parks, and for irrigating 1,300ha of citrus orchards that previously used groundwater sources. Around 40% of the reclaimed water is used to recharge the surficial aquifers via 81ha of Rapid Infiltration Basins (RIBs). 

To encourage use by citrus farmers, an agreement was forged with early entrants to the project to provide the reclaimed water free of charge for a 20year period. This reduced the groundwater demand of citrus orchards and increased recharge of the Floridian Aquifer System which is the sole source of potable water in central Florida. 

Key Elements:

  • Wastewater reclamation for irrigation and ground water recharge.
  • $344,000,000 project cost financed through municipal bonds and a grant from the US EPA.
  • The capital and operating expense is serviced by charges for treating municipal wastewater and from sale of reclaimed water.
  • Construction of Rapid Infiltration Basins to enhance the recharge of the Floridian Aquifer System.
  • Treatment and re-use of waste water flows that would have otherwise discharged to Shingle Creek, and hence Tohopekaliga.
  • Principal source of water supply is groundwater. 

Key Outcomes:

  • Eliminated discharges to Lake Tohopekaliga improving its water quality. 
  • Total volume of reclaimed water 58 million m3 per year utilised as follows:
    • 23 million m3 of aquifer recharge through rapid infiltration basins.
    • 25 million m3 of reclaimed water used by citrus farmers instead of abstracted groundwater.
    • 10 million m3 of water used to supply golf courses, amusement parks, and residential and commercial users.
  • Storage in the aquifer reduces the evaporative losses (consumptive use) from water that would have otherwise remained as surface water.
  • For each unit of water abstracted from the original source a greater productive output is achieved.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Improved Water Distribution Management

Posted by Vivek Mehta on 25 Jun, 2018

The 29,181ha VaalHarts irrigation scheme is the largest in South Africa and is situated on the confluence of the Harts and Vaal Rivers in the Lower Vaal River catchment. It draws water from the VaalHarts weir which is fed by water released from Bloemhof Dam. Any savings that can be made on demand from the Vaal River are critical. Implementation of further interbasin transfers from the Senqu River in Lesotho in order to augment the stretched resources of the Vaal River are planned, but this will take at least ten years. In the meantime, there is major drive to reduce pressure on this important water source which supplies water to much of South Africa’s industrial and commercial heartland. 

The Water Use Association (WUA) manages the distribution of irrigation water to hundreds of farmers via over 1,120km of ageing canals and 1,873 abstraction points. As one of the first irrigation schemes to be handed over by the Government to the private sector, the WUA faced the challenge of self-sufficiency in a testing environment. Difficult institutional reform combined with critical self examination of operation and management practices have led to improved efficiency and significant water savings when faced with a lack of adequate funding for more expensive infrastructure improvements. 

Farmers are allocated 9,140m3 /ha with an abstraction permit based on their hectare entitlement and in order to meet this demand the WUA had to release 12,065m3 /ha into the irrigation system. The WUA implemented a Water Administration System (WAS) tailored for the management of irrigation scheme water distribution systems to reduce losses and this enabled the water released into the system to be reduced to 11,580m3 /ha, a saving of 14,150,000 m3 /year. 

Key Elements:

  • Legal and institutional reform driving self-sufficiency and on-farm sustainability.
  • Implementation of WAS, an integrated water management system for irrigation schemes.
  • Improved accuracy of monitoring.
  • Introduction of improved water scheduling by farmers.

Key Outcomes:

  • Improved competitiveness of overall irrigation scheme and sustainability of WUA.
  • Reduction in water used by existing irrigation scheme.
  • Improved crop yields and productive use per unit of water abstracted.
  • WUA personnel freed up for more critical day to day tasks.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Groundwater conservation

Posted by Mai Nguyen on 25 Jun, 2018

Yemen is a water scarce country and is reliant on groundwater as its primary source of its water supply, 90% of which is used for agriculture using water intensive irrigation practices. Abstraction from deep aquifers has resulted in rapid decline in its groundwater resources, not only increasing the cost of abstraction but also reducing the country’s ability to meet its current and future needs. 

The Government of Yemen, in collaboration with The World Bank, implemented the ground water conservation project in 10 of the 13 catchments in the country, with focus on sub-catchments where aquifer depletion rate was most critical. An integrated approach using a combination of supply side and demand side interventions was implemented to increase the available supply as well as to reduce the demand on groundwater. Water User Associations were created to help educate the farmers about water efficient irrigation practices, improve communications between government officers and farmers, and to help monitor and regulate abstraction of groundwater. 

The project not only surpassed its objectives of improving the sustainability of the groundwater resources, it also achieved a 6% to 15% increase in crop yield per unit of irrigation water and strengthened key institutions that work and assist the agricultural sector.

Key Elements:

  • Integrated approach focussing on technical, social and institutional measures. 
  • A tripartite agreement to prevent increases in irrigated areas and thus increased demand for water. 
  • Improved conveyance and distribution systems reducing evaporative losses. 
  • Use of water efficient agricultural practices requiring less water. 
  • Increased on site water retention and ground water recharge. 
  • Increased use of spate irrigation to reduce reliance on groundwater.

Key Outcomes:

  • 83,000,000m3 of water saved per year. 
  • A 6% to 15% increase in the crop yield per unit of irrigation water. 
  • Reduction in depletion rate of deep aquifers. 
  • Improved monitoring and governance of water resources. 
  • Creation of 2,582 water user associations, representing over 39,000 farmers, to monitor and manage local water resources and irrigation abstraction in coordination with the government officials.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Irrigation Scheduling in Grape Farming

Posted by Francesca Sereni on 25 Jun, 2018

Shelanu farm in South Africa is situated on the southern bank of the Orange River from which it abstracts its water supply. The rainfall precipitation in the area is 125mm per year. All of the 28.7ha are used for the growing of table grapes that can be exported mainly to the United Kingdom in November, earlier than other producers, enabling them to command a good selling price. It is a small but highly intensive farm focussing on the production of a high yielding high quality crop using modern technology. In addition, the UK supermarkets require an audited water footprint for each kg of grapes exported, so there is real pressure to minimise the volume of water abstracted per kg of grapes. This is achieved largely through optimised scheduling of irrigation water based on data automatically received from soil moisture (capacitance) probes and analysed using a sophisticated computerised monitoring and management system. Soils around the farm vary considerably and the automated system allows variable irrigation cycle time depending on soil type and soil moisture status. A combination of scheduling and other measures has permitted a reduction in irrigation water per hectare of 20%.

Key Elements:

  • Irrigation scheduling based on real-time soil moisture measurements and local weather forecasts and reports. 
  • Reduced evaporative losses through mulching and half-shade netting. 
  • Increased profit per unit volume of water used through a combination of technology and careful management. 
  • Agreement that water savings would not be used to expand irrigated areas. 
  • Reduced consumptive use as a result of reduced evaporative losses. 

Key Outcomes:

  • A 20% reduction in annual water application rate from an average of 15,000m3 /ha to 12,000m3 /ha, a saving of 20%.
  • A 20% increase in crop yields and a 21% reduction in pumping costs. 
  • Reduced costs resulting from minimal wastage of fertiliser into the groundwater and/or return flows.
  • The net return per m3 of water has increased from an estimated $0.82/m3 to $1.31/m3 .
  • A 35% reduction in the water footprint of a kilogram of grape.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Integrated Watershed Management

Posted by Eli Martinez on 25 Jun, 2018

Land degradation is a serious problem in many parts of the world, impacting particularly on rain-fed subsistence or semi-subsistence farming areas where the availability and quality of land and water resources is critical to survival. In India there is an urgent need to address natural resource degradation in rainfed areas. The Adarsha Watershed Management Project at Kothapally in Andhra Pradesh, India, implemented by a consortium of interested parties, is an example of how sustainable watershed programmes can be successfully carried out. Kothapally village comprises 465ha of mainly cultivated undulating farmland with a population of 1,492 supported by semi-subsistence agriculture in the area. The level of resource degradation before project implementation was serious, characterised by low rainwater use efficiency, high soil erosion and a lack of soil stabilisation or infiltration enhancement mechanisms. The project has placed an emphasis on community-based integrated watershed management, engaging all tiers of the community. Interventions have resulted in improved infiltration, reduced soil loss, increased groundwater levels, improved land cover and vegetation, increased productivity, and positive changes in cropping patterns.

Key Elements:

  • Innovative institutional model, comprising a consortium of technical specialists, national and state government and the farmers.
  • Effective farmer participation through a co-operation model, supported by wide stakeholder engagement via an active Watershed Committee.
  • Delivery of community-scale infrastructure interventions, including check dams and groundwater recharge pits.
  • Expert support provided to farmers on planting and cropping.
  • Continuous monitoring and evaluation of the impact of the interventions, including use of GIS and remote sensing.

Key Outcomes:

  • Increased groundwater storage. Over the three years since project implementation, the groundwater table has risen by over four metres equivalent to nearly 1,000,000m3 of water, or 330,000m3 /year.
  • Reduction in soil loss, with reduced sediment load in surface runoff exiting the study area, positively impacting on downstream water quality. 
  • Changed cropping patterns and increased yields. 
  • Average 21% increase in average farming incomes; increase is higher in areas not using irrigation.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group. 

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Irrigation Management

Posted by Siddhant Bhandari on 25 Jun, 2018

Most of the Orange-Senqu Basin, shared by Lesotho, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia is arid to semi-arid. It is one of the largest basins in southern Africa and also one of the most developed. Irrigation is a major consumer of water using approximately 2.5 bilion m3 /year, corresponding to 20% of the virgin mean annual runoff and 54% of total consumptive demand excluding environmental requirements. The sector is often accused of being both wasteful and relatively unproductive. The Orange-Riet Water User Association (WUA) is situated in the Upper Orange River catchment in South Africa with the main user being the 17 050ha Orange-Riet irrigation scheme. The main crops grown are wheat and lucerne (63%), potato, groundnut, maize, oats and barley; these are difficult to grow profitably. At formation, the WUA had a major challenge to ensure the financial survival of the farmers. Difficult institutional reform combined with the application of a combination of technological and managerial best practices have left the irrigation scheme much stronger and more efficient than before. Compared to the prior situation, annual abstraction has been reduced by 7% without major capital investment by the WUA (estimated at $250 000). Limited on-farm interventions were carried out by individual farmers following the implementation of institutional and managerial reforms of the WUA. 

Key Elements:

  • Legal and institutional reform driving the establishment of a selfsufficient Water User Association.
  • High level of stakeholder consultation and participation.
  • Establishment of clear rules and regulations and strict enforcement of water allocations, and scheduling.
  • Advanced metering and establishment of a virtual water bank to incentivise farmers to sell unused water allocations.
  • Farm led modernisation of irrigation infrastructure (centre pivot and overhead) and management systems.
  • Weather forecast led scheduling and monitoring of soil moisture content.

Key Outcomes:

  • Improved productivity in terms of crop per drop with average yield across the scheme increasing by approximately 25% since implementation of the WUA.
  • Long-term financial sustainability of the irrigation scheme is more assured and is reflected by lower rate of turnover in farm ownership and/or farmer occupancy.
  • Total annual irrigation water demand reduced by 7%, down from 187 600 000m3 to 174 400 000m3 .
  • Development of skills and influence of those involved in the WUAs, with increased understanding of water issues within local decision making.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group.

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Managing evapotranspiration using quotas

Posted by Francesca Sereni on 25 Jun, 2018

The Hai Basin in China is home to over 120 million people and is spread over four provinces and the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin and accounts for some 15% of China’s GDP. Water has played a pivotal role in the development of the Basin which is now facing serious water-related problems, including water pollution, water scarcity, diminishing water supplies and flooding. Water availability per capita in the Hai Basin is only 14% of the national average and about 4% of the global average. Overexploitation of groundwater across the basin is estimated to be 9 billion cubic meters annually. The programme was developed by the 2030 Water Resouces Group to address the supply demand balance within the river basin, recognising the impacts downstream of the basin in the Bohai Sea ecosystem. The programme commenced in July 2004 and was completed in June 2011 and it involved the implementation of an integrated water and environmental management strategy in 16 counties. The pilot has proved successful in implementing reduced water quotas against improved water management practices, whilst supporting growth in farm incomes.

Key elements:

  • Targeted reduction of consumptive water use, using water quotas supported by remote sensing (evapotranspiration).
  • Institutional reform to improve co-operation across local administrations.
  • Introduction of basin wide data management to improve data on water resources and to share data more effectively.
  • Engagement of local communities including the use of incentives and support to farmers.
  • Metering of irrigation systems to influence behaviour and to support more reliable collection of water charges.
  • Legislative process to enforce irrigation quotas.

Key Outcomes:

  • At one location (village) water quotas reduced usage by approximately 40% (from 570 000m3 /year to 350 000m3 /year), whilst continuing to meet farmers’ requirements for irrigation water.
  • Reductions in water use were achieved alongside increased crop productivity within the pilot areas, with associated increases in income. This was achieved by diversification and adjustment of cropping patterns.
  • Falling levels of groundwater over the last 30 years have been mostly reversed, ceased or in a few cases much reduced.
  • Increased understanding of water issues within local decision making.

Taken from the report 'Managing Water Use in Scarce Environments' by 2030 Water Resources Group.

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Solar Crop

Posted by Theresa Brooks on 25 Jun, 2018

In hot and dry climates, many farmers pump groundwater to irrigate crops, and there has been a growth in the use of solar-powered pumps. A problem arises when farmers view solar energy as free, as it can cause over-irrigation. A part-technological, part policy and management solution by CGIAR’s research programme on water, land and ecosystems, and in partnership with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), incentivises farmers using solar pumps to sell excess power back to the grid. 

The guaranteed buy-back scheme produces a “triple win”; farmers gain income, the state gains electricity reserves, and the water source is conserved by curbing usage – all while reducing carbon emissions. The scheme is being piloted in Gujarat, and IWMI estimates that solarising India’s 20m irrigation wells could reduce carbon emissions by 4-5% per year.

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Water savings in unexpected places

Posted by Siddhant Bhandari on 25 Jun, 2018

In Namibia, one of the most arid countries in southern Africa, citizens have been drink­ing recycled water since 1968. Al­though many countries use recycled waste­water for irrigation, landscaping, and industrial purposes, few of them recycle water for drinking, mostly because the notion of “toilet to tap” is a tough sell. But Namibia couldn’t afford to think that way—­and it has been purifying wastewater into drink­ing water for 50 years. The country has become a pioneer in wastewater management, easing water shortages and providing a secure supply of drinking water for more than 300,000 citizens in the capital city of Windhoek.

No single solution fits all situations. Gov­ern­ment leaders must think creatively about how water conservation can be tai­lored to work within their unique con­text. Singapore, for example, imports 60% of its water. In 2008, to capture as much rain­water as possible, it built Marina Bar­rage, an enormous reservoir one-sixth the size of Singapore, in the heart of the city. Marina Barrage has boosted the city-state’s water supply by 10%, as well as alleviating flood­ing and serving as a focal point for recre­ational activities, such as biking and art and music festivals.

In Jordan, an enormous amount of freshwater once went to farmers to support agriculture. To reduce the amount of water that agricultural projects consumed, the government identified the most water-­intensive crops, such as bananas, and temporarily eliminated import tariffs as a way of encouraging imports rather than domestic farming of those crops. The government also has had some success in encouraging farmers to grow drought-­resistant, high-value crops, such as dates and grapes.

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Above ground rainwater harvesting

Posted by Stuti Parekh on 29 May, 2018

Above ground rainwater harvesting is suitable for non-potable (non-drinking) water, ideal for use in an irrigation system. It is simple, easy and offers advantages like self-sufficiency and the convenience of not being dependent on regulated water resources. It presents the opportunity to replace high-quality drinking water with rainwater, for low grade uses such as toilet flushing, irrigation, household cleaning and car washing. As a result, water will be saved, reducing water bills and ensuring access to an adequate water supply when none is available.

The first step is to choose a tank size based on the roof area. Based on the size of the tank, a tank stand or a suitable base should be built. A pre-filtration system will remove debris, insects, and dirty water, allowing only rainwater into the tank

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