‘Cape Town drought has done us all some good’

2018-03-08 06:01
Counting down to Day Zero, Cape Town is in the midst of a severe drought. PHOTO:sourced

Counting down to Day Zero, Cape Town is in the midst of a severe drought. PHOTO:sourced

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WHILE the Cape Town drought has gone down in history as one of the worst experienced in the country, WESSA’s regional committee member Patrick Dowling argues that there are a few good things that have come from it.

In his article Ten Good Things About Cape Town’s Drought, Dowling argues that the drought has succeeded in doing what many environmental watchdog organisations have attempted for a long time, which is to conscientise the public about climate change and the urgency of the situation.

“Heightened public awareness” of the reality of climate change is first on his list.

He notes how even the World Economic Forum, which is usually not bothered by “green things” has now taken note “with apprehensive interest” of the topic.

“Realising that leaders, global, national and local, can do only so much, communities have started working co-operatively and innovatively together. There are domestic street and faith-based responses, workplace plans and frail support initiatives.

“Other benefits include increased awareness of water literacy, long-standing socioeconomic inequalities, the government’s accountability on the issue, self-sufficient water-saving tactics from the practical responses imposed, as well as the need to decouple growth from resource exploitation and environmental degradation.”

With waste-water recycling becoming the new normal in Cape Town, he said, it will enlist subsequent benefits, including less effluent to the sea, less pollution into rivers, greater water security, tighter control on commercial and industrial outflows, more training and jobs for water technicians and developing understanding of groundwater recharge implications.

And finally, the crisis also signals an appreciation for ecosystem services, from wetlands to rivers, the ocean, springs and aquifers, and the need to protect these from pollution and overuse. “You can take a wash in the sea, relax in the shade of riverine vegetation and strip nutrients from your grey water with the help of a home-planted wetland. Kikuyu grass is giving way to hardy indigenous plants and the local hack groups taking out black wattle and Port Jackson are water heroes,” said Dowling.

“Before we get carried away with the idea of the drought being the best thing ever, we must note the massive increase in the sales of bottled water and the filling of pools by commercial companies; practices that promote the idea of commodifying a common good and pitch the haves against the have-nots,” he however added. — Supplied.

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