Water sources

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Hannah Woodward has put together this source evaluation document. Add your suggestions and ideas below:

Source Source Type Information/quotes
The Global Technology Revolution China, In-Depth Analyses, Richard Silberglitt et al, 2009, pg. 105 Academic journal Electric-power costs represent almost 50 percent of the total cost of a reverse osmosis–desalination plant for seawater (SNL, 2003)

There are two categories of technologies for solar desalination. The first cate- gory relies on the greenhouse effect to distil water. This approach has been used for small-scale domestic applications, especially in remote locations (Bahadori, 2005; Khanna, Rathore, and Sharma, 2008).

The second category of solar desalination technologies uses photovoltaic (PV) cells to power a reverse-osmosis system. PV-based systems have been demonstrated to be capable of autonomously desalinating brackish water (Schäfer, Broeckmann, and Richards, 2007). Such demonstrations show promise for providing clean water to remote locations. Florida International University’s Applied Research Centre has conducted joint research with the U.S. military to develop a mobile solar-PV reverse osmosis–desalination unit to provide clean water for military operations, disaster recovery, and underdeveloped regions (“Solar Powered Purification Technology Unveiled,” 2007).

A Light on the Water: Alternative Energy in Saudi Arabia, Erika Lee, 2010 Academic journal Until recently, 90 percent of all the water desalination plants in Saudi Arabia ran on oil or natural gas. One cubic meter of water costs between 40 and 90 US cents to produce, depending on the price of fuel; it would be profitable to simply sell the oil on the open market

In terms of the construction costs, Saudi Arabia would need to build enough plants to increase its water output by a factor of five to keep up with their annual 2 percent population growth. The cost of such endeavour would be approximately US$200 billion. Producing the planned 15 billion cubic metres of water per year will require about 60 terawatts of energy annually, which means about US$300 billion of 1 kilowatt-rated power photovoltaic panels are necessary.

Global Water: Issues and Insights, Chris White, 2014 Academic journal One of the most commonly used measures of water scarcity is the ‘Falkenmark indicator’ or ‘water stress index’. This method defines water scarcity in terms of the total water resources that are available to the population of a region; measuring scarcity as the amount of renewable freshwater that is available for each person each year. If the amount of renewable water in a country is below 1700 cubic metres (m3) per person per year, that country is said to be experiencing water stress; below 1000 m3 it is said to be experiencing water scarcity; and below 500 m3, absolute water scarcity (Falkenmark et al. 1989).

The water stress index method is commonly used because it is straightforward, easy to use, and the data needed is readily available. Such a simplistic approach does, however, have limitations:

  • It ignores important regional differences in water availability, only measuring water scarcity at a country level.
  • It fails to account for whether or not those water resources are accessible, for example, some of the freshwater resources of a country may be stored deep underground or may be heavily polluted.
  • It does not include man-made sources of freshwater, such as desalination plants, which increase water availability beyond what is naturally available.
  • It does not account for the fact that different countries, and regions within countries, use different amounts of water. In Australia for example, most of the demand for water is focused around the major urban and agricultural centres such as in the Murray-Darling Basin, with much less used in the sparsely populated centre (Rijsberman 2006).

An alternative way of defining and measuring water scarcity is to use a criticality ratio. This approach relaxes the assumption that all countries use the same amount of water, instead defining water scarcity in terms of each country’s water demand compared to the amount of water available; measuring scarcity as the proportion of total annual water withdrawals relative to total available water resources (Raskin et al. 1997). Using this approach, a country is said to be water scarce if annual withdrawals are between 20-40 per cent of annual supply, and severely water scarce if they exceed 40 per cent.  While this approach avoids the simplistic assumption that all countries have the same demand for water, it also has its limitations:

  1. It does not consider man-made increases in water supply (such as desalination).
  2. It ignores water withdrawals that are recycled and reused.
  3. It doesn’t consider the capacity of countries to adapt to lower water availability through changing behaviour or new technology (Rijsberman 2006).
  4. A third measure of water scarcity was developed by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). This approach attempts to solve the problems listed above by including: water infrastructure, such as water in desalination plants, into the measure of water availability; recycled water, by limiting measurements of water demand to consumptive use rather than total withdrawals; and, the adaptive capacity of a country by assessing its potential for infrastructure development and efficiency improvements (Seckler et al. 1998).

A fourth approach to measuring water scarcity is the ‘water poverty index’. This approach attempts to take into account the role of income and wealth in determining water scarcity by measuring: (1) the level of access to water; (2) water quantity, quality, and variability; (3) water used for domestic, food and productive purposes; (4) capacity for water management; and, (5) environmental aspects (Sullivan et al. 2003). The complexity of this approach, however, means that it is more suited for analysis at a local scale, where data is more readily available, than on a national level.

Solar Thermal Desalination Systems with Multi-layer Heat Recovery, C. Müller et al, 2004 Academic journal During the thermal desalination of sea water, the evaporation process has a high energy demand. Around 2294 kJ/kg are required to produce just one litre of distilled water. If solar energy is used to power this process a large area is required. Due to the extensive installation required this involves high costs. To make such an idea economically viable, energy-saving desalination technology must be used. An improvement in energy efficiency is possible because of the recovery of the evaporation enthalpy in a multi-layer arrangement (see Figure 1). The main benefit of the development described here is that it is easy to use and avoids the use of moving components such as pumps and electronic controls. The unit also does not need an electricity supply and can be operated by users with little technical skills. This system should provide an economically attractive alternative to the technically demanding desalination systems commercially available, while still producing between 50 and 5000 litres of drinking water per day.

With the help of a validated complete system, it is possible to predict the performance of the unit in other climatic regions. As an initial prognosis, the simulation was performed using weather data from Sidi Barrani on the Egyptian Mediterranean coast. The average daily production over a period of one year of a 1 m2 model with a 4 m2 flat plate collector is shown in Figure 8. The daily production is seen to be between 20 and 60 kg/d, depending on the time of year. The average yearly production achieved by the unit reached 47 kg/d.

In order to reduce the energy requirements even further, an additional system to recover the heat from the condensate and the discharged salt water, especially designed for solar thermal desalination units, is now being investigated with the financial support of RWE Aqua (Thames Water). Initial attempts have already shown very promising results.

Water security in one blue

planet: twenty-first century

policy challenges for science, D. Grey et al, 2013

Article In a globalizing world, local water use is greatly influenced by patterns of trade and local water shocks can have global spillovers with major financial, economic and political impacts.

While water-related risks continue to threaten society at the local, national and international scales, they now increasingly do so at global scales owing to rapid economic, demographic and climate change. While we are not ‘running out of water’, we urgently need to understand better how larger global changes will affect freshwater availability.

In defining water security as a tolerable level of water-related risk, it is clear that most of the world’s poor people currently face intolerable water-related risk and are water insecure. Yet, they may need and choose to invest first in reducing other intolerable risks (e.g. of food and energy insecurity).

Western North America, Australia, Japan, Israel and South Africa have invested heavily in infrastructure and institutions matched to a more challenging environment. These regions (quadrant III) have enhanced but still fragile water security, despite hydrological complexity, in most cases partly as a consequence of relatively recent in-migration importing substantial public and private capital and capacity.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/mar/17/access-to-drinking-water-world-six-infographics Article In some provinces of South Africa, water supply in 60% of households has been interrupted for two days or more

In South Africa in 2014, a fifth of households with municipal piped water had interruptions that lasted for more than two days. This was three times higher in some regions of the country. Few countries have water available continuously, but in many parts of the world a less than 24-hour supply is still considered sufficient. Countries use a wide range of different measures to assess availability and these must match up so that comparisons of service levels can be made across countries and over time.



Nikolay Voutchkov, 2016

Article Desalination provides only around 1 percent of the world’s drinking water, but this percentage is growing year-on-year. An expected US$10 billion investment in the next five years would add 5.7 million cubic meters per day of new production capacity. This capacity is expected to double by 2030.

The high salinity of ocean water, and the significant costs associated with seawater desalination, means most of the world’s water supply has traditionally come from fresh water sources: groundwater aquifers, rivers and lakes. However, changing climate patterns, combined with population growth pressures and limited availability of new and inexpensive fresh water supplies, are shifting the water industry’s attention – the world is looking to the ocean for fresh water.

The ocean has two unique features as a water source – it’s drought-proof and is practically limitless. Over 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban centres bordering the ocean. In many arid parts of the world such as the Middle East, Australia, Northern Africa and Southern California, the population concentration along the coast exceeds 75 percent. Seawater desalination provides a logical solution for the sustainable, long-term management of growing water demand.

African Business Review, Untapped Potential, Wedaeli Chibelushi, 2017 Article Lavers and her husband, Dr Rod Tennyson are frustrated that NGO-built wells do not last long. According to UPGro (a research programmer studying groundwater projects in sub-Saharan Africa) nearly one-third of such projects fail within a few years of construction. One major reason for this is failure to train locals

The proposed pipeline will be 8,000km long, 1.2-1.5metres wide, cross 11 African countries and cost $14.7 billion.

TAP also plans to finance the pipeline via carbon credits. The carbon credit system was instated as part of the Kyoto Protocol (signed by the United Nations in 1997)

80 percent of TAP’s  current funds has come from private financing.

“One aspect of our pipeline project is to train thousands of Africans over the 11 countries, so the pipeline will revert ownership to those countries”. Among these Africans, TAP plans to employ local graduate engineers and agricultural specialists.



Ishani Chetty, 2018

Article The French government along with the Western Cape Provincial government are working together to implement the first ever R9-million solar desalination plant in Witsand, near the Breede River. The cost of the solar desalination plant will be shared between the two governments and will aid the drought crisis in the area.

Solar desalination plants are used for small scale conversions in a smaller area as they take a longer time to process.

The Osmosum technology used in the desalination plant was developed by Mascara Renewable Water, a French company and was brought to South Africa by Turnkey Water Solutions (TWS). The reverse osmosis technology is a first for the world as it is coupled with photovoltaic energy (producing energy from solar cells) without the use of batteries.



Andrew Wong, 2018

Article Originally projected for this year, the impending crisis has been delayed in part by severe measures — the city instituted restrictions that amount to less than one sixth of an average American’s water consumption. Yet despite that effort, “Day Zero” is still projected to arrive next year.

And when it comes, the crisis will see the government switching off all the taps and rationing the resource through collection points.

For an example of international water tensions, take the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam in the Nile, a $4 billion hydroelectric project financed by Ethiopia. It’s left Egypt fearing a potential disruption to its fresh water supply.



Justina Crabtree, 2018

Article Socio-economic factors have played a role in exacerbating the water crisis. Rural-urban migration to Cape Town, South Africa’s second-largest city, has been rising in recent years. The population grew 2.6 percent between 2001-2011, and managing newcomers “certainly is a real issue,” Neilson admitted.

Wine production, for which the area around Cape Town is world famous, is down by 20 percent. Meanwhile, fruit and vegetable production – including onions, potatoes and tomatoes – has dropped by 15 percent year on year as farmers planted less due to water shortages, Paul Makube, agricultural economist at South Africa’s First National Bank told CNBC via telephone Friday.

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2018/06/07/chile-desalination-project-powered-by-100-mw-of-solar-gets-initial-financing/ Article A solar powered water desalination project in Chile has received an initial investment of $500 million. Trends Industrial and Almar Water Solutions will carry out the ENAPAC (Energías y Aguas del Pacífico) project, which will be the largest desalination plant by reverse osmosis (SWRO) in Latin America, and the first large-scale desalinator powered with PV.


Lucas Laursen, 2018

Article Armed with oil money, the Saudi government’s Saline Water Conversion Corp. (SWCC) has already built the world’s most extensive network of desalination plants. However, like many facilities in Saudi Arabia, those plants are powered mostly by fossil fuels.

Energy costs make up 40 to 50 percent of the cost of desalination, estimates ­Carlos Cosín, CEO of Almar Water Solutions, in Madrid. Industry leaders in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and Chile are particularly interested in using solar power to run reverse-osmosis desalination, which uses electricity to pump saline water through membrane filters.

The countries in the region have lots of sunlight and stand to gain from cheaper freshwater, given the dearth of local sources. Switching to solar also means they could export more oil for US $65 a barrel, instead of selling it to desalination plants for subsidized prices.

Concentrated solar power (CSP), which uses circles of mirrors to direct sunlight toward a solar tower filled with thermal salts, generates electricity more consistently. It can also store heat for several hours, which certain types of desalination plants can use to evaporate saltwater.

PV is less than half the price of CSP during the day, but it produces only electricity—not heat. That makes PV a better fit for reverse-osmosis desalination than for evaporation techniques.

Water and development in Zambia, Geography Review, Ollie Davies, 2018 Article Chisekesi is a village of 2,500 people just south of Monze town. A solar-powered pump installed by WaterAid Zambia supplies 30% of its dry-season water. During daylight hours groundwater is pumped into an elevated tank which feeds water under gravity to two kiosks supplying the village. The kiosks are staffed to prevent overuse and depletion of groundwater. A 20-litre tank of water costs 15p and this revenue allows SWASCO to generate enough funds to run the system. These kiosks also serve as a community hub where sanitation products are sold and health advice is given. A further pump is planned.
https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2013/06/10/can-we-end-the-global-water-crisis/ – Jay Famiglietti 2013 Blog “I truly believe that with a shared vision, with leadership and commitment from governments around the world, and with public and private partnerships, we can manage our way through to ensure a sustainable water future. “

However, even where water is available and clean, we see:

  • A crisis of management: are water resources being managed efficiently, or, is there a government commitment to even deliver water to its people?
  • A crisis of economics: does a country have the wealth to build and maintain the infrastructure to treat and distribute water?
  • And a crisis of understanding:  does the public and do our elected officials really understand what’s happening with water, nationally and globally?  If they did, I contend that we could make some real progress towards managing this crisis.”
The Future of Seawater Desalination: Energy, Technology, and the Environment, Menachem Elimelech and William A. Phillip, 2011, pg. 717 Book Current state-of-the-art SWRO plants consume between 3 and 4 kWh/m3 and emit between 1.4 and 1.8 kg C02 per cubic meter of produced water (4,5,45). To put this in perspective, Spain would require as much as 4000 GWh annually to produce its projected desalination capacity of 1 billion m3/year

Alternatively, indirect compensation or offset measures, such as the installation of renewable energy plants that feed energy into the grid, could also power desalination plants (46), which would resolve problems with intermittent and variable intensities of wind and solar sources.

Water, Security and U.S. Foreign Policy, David Reed et al, 2017 Book Page 17, David Reed: As senate majority leader, Senator Frist exhorted his colleagues to give proper attention to human and security costs of ignoring the plight of millions without access to clean water, stating:

“Water basins do not follow national borders, and conflict over them will escalate as safe water becomes even scarcer. These conflicts may come to threaten our national security. Modest, pragmatic clean water projects that yield measurable benefits will make things better.”

Page 266, Keith Schneider: One more essential ingredient in Rajasthan’s renewable-energy development formula: diving costs of solar energy. Jai Shanker Verma, the manager of an AES solar plant near Jodhpur, told me that it cost $20 million to build the plant in 2011. AES, an American energy supplier based in Arlington, Virginia, chose First Solar, also a US-based manufacturer, to supply the 65,000 photovoltaic panels that cover the plant’s 74 acres of ground. If the same facility had been built three years later, it would have cost only $11.5 million due to the abundance of undeveloped land and the shrinking cost of solar technology.

Managing Europe’s Water Resources: Twenty-first century challenges, Chad Staddon, 2010 Book Page 17:

Only about 3% of the earth’s total water resources are freshwater supplies – the vast majority being locked away in saline environments; oceans and estuaries (Shiklomanov and Rodda, 2004). Moreover, only about 10% of that 3% is actually available for easy exploitation, the remainder being locked away in flora or fauna, in underground aquifers (about 30%), glaciers (about 65% of total) or the atmosphere – implying that humanity is surviving on approximately 0.3% of total world water supplies.

Overall human societies are only using 1% of total annual renewable resources and even pessimistic estimates suggest that total global availability of freshwater could remain above 5000m^3 per person per year.

The problem however is one of distribution; some regions have far in excess of the 5000m^3 identified above, some very much less (Gleick, 1993; Postel 1992)

[See Table 1.1 for Freshwater resources, 2005]

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[See Table 1.2 for Water scarcity in 1995 and 2025]

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As life is in fact impossible without water, the latter is increasingly acknowledged as a resource of inestimable value, especially for those who don’t have it.

From a multidisciplinary perspective, it becomes evident that hydropolitics is about:

  • Conflict and cooperation;
  • Involving states as the main actors;
  • Shared international river basins; and
  • The socio-political identity of water itself.

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Water management is, at the beginning of the 21st century, a highly complex and contested enterprise. Water has been subject to human regulation since before even Roman times, and is now regulated by a large number of different organisations, agreements, and processes operating at different spatial scales. Adding [to] the complexity is the fact that not all agreements have the status of “law”; “declarations”, “compacts”, “treaties”, and “agreements” are not cut from the same legal cloth and can often further cloud the issues.

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[See Table 2.1 for Selected international water agreements]

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[See Table 2.2 for Selected international water NGOs]

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[See citation 3] Similarly complex is the South African three tier system where local, regional and national authorities all have active roles in water supply. See the South African “Water Services Bill” Government Gazette, 23 May 1997

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A natural resources strategy or substrategy, within this broad framework would have the following elements:

  • Help client countries assess their natural resource base and evaluate alternatives for sustainable use, taking into account balances between cost-effectiveness, intersectoral, spatial and intertemporal dimensions;
  • Develop plans, investment programs, and environmental assessments for sustainable natural resource management and use, and assure adequate implementation, monitoring, and evaluation;
  • Modify regulations and governance of natural resources in order to assure transparent management and modification in the role of the state and the private sector. Clear rules regarding equitable access to resources, and consensus regarding these, are needed. Decentralized, participatory approaches are often more effective but depend also on transparency in local power structures;
  • Modify prices, taxes, and incentives that reflect scarcity and more likely lead to sustainable management. Even where resources are abundant, pricing should reflect the costs of renewal.

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Climate change also means that we are likely to experience an increase in the intensity, severity and frequency of extreme weather events such as droughts, storms and floods.

Areas that are already relatively, such as the Mediterranean basin and parts of Southern Africa and South America, are likely to experience further decreases in water availability, for example several (but not all) climate models predict up to a 30% decrease in annual runoff in these regions for a 2^C global temperature rise and 40-50% for 4^C.

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The idea of a national water grid which would redistribute water around the nation like the Great Central Water Carrier in Israel, the National Water Plan in Spain or the Central Arizona Project in Arizona is periodically raised and discussed.

The water industry is already fairly energy intensive and consumes about 3% of total energy used in the UK.

The industry is responsible for approximately four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emission (CO2 equivalent) every year. That’s less than 1% of total UK emissions but is rising gradually year on year.

Since water is relatively cheap (around £0.15/litre as opposed to more than £1.00/litre for petrol) suggests that a national grid would be disproportionately expensive.

Transferring large volumes of water away from an area is likely to cause big changes in the local ecology, changes that many would see as damaging the flora and fauna.

Since there is a relationship between the finer details of water quality and local ecologies around the country, importing “alien” water could begin to alter the ecologies of the recipient regions.

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Possible solutions:

  1. Increasing the available water resources by construction of a storage reservoir upstream of the industrial plant water intake;
  2. Increasing the available water resources by construction of a transfer channel from another catchment, feeding the river upstream of the industrial plant water intake;
  3. Increasing the available water resources by construction of an underground water intake;
  4. Reducing the water demand of the industrial plant by changing the production technology.

The learned and rational choice of one of the above mentioned alternative solutions (or variant which is a combination of solutions) requires completion of additional simulation computations focused on definition of parameters of hydrotechnical facilities in each alternative (usable capacity of storage reservoir, capacity of transfer channel, efficiency of underground water intake) and the required degree of water demand reduction.

https://ourworldindata.org/water-access-resources-sanitation Data source (numerous relevant graphs) Water stress is defined in its simplest terms as occurring when water demand or withdrawal substantiates a large share of renewable water resources. The World Resources Institute (WRI) define baseline water stress based on the ratio of annual water withdrawals to renewable resources.18

It defines water stress categories based on this percentage (% of withdrawals to renewable resources) as follows:

  • <10% = low stress
  • 10-20% = low-to-medium stress
  • 20-40% = medium-to-high stress
  • 40-80% = high stress
  • >80% = extremely high stress

Water scarcity is more extreme than water stress, and occurs when water demand exceeds internal water resources.

Daphne Lavers, TAP project Email exchange TAP will build desalination plants that extract ocean water on the coasts of the Sahel countries, remove the salt and provide – on completion of the pipeline – 800,000 cubic meters of fresh, drinkable water per day to people in the 11 Sahel countries.

But TAP’s use of solar is for energy production; to power the desal plants, the pumps, the compounds that will be built to house those building, operating and managing the pipeline itself. Any excess power we will sell to local, regional or national governments to increase the power carried through the electrical grids in those countries. So desalination is one technology we are using to make the water drinkable for humans and animals; solar technology we will use to power the project.

One fairly major difference in TAP’s operations is that we will not dump the desalination product – the brine that is extracted through the desalination process – back into the nearby oceans, as many desalination plants do. TAP will construct large salt ponds; when the water evaporates from the brine, we will have high-quality sea salt, which is a salable commodity. Dumping the brine back into nearby oceans can kill any aquatic life and destroy any fishing areas. So this is our chosen alternative

From the development of TAP, we have proven that production of this amount of water on a daily basis is indeed the solution to the water crisis in the Sahel countries. A major component of this salvation is a Sahel organization called the Pan African Great Green Wall – PAGGW Agency – formed by the Sahel countries in about 2010 to begin replanting drought tolerant trees to stop the expansion of the Sahara, which is now deadly. There has been some success with this ‘great green wall of trees’ in one or two countries, but premise of the Great Green Wall was 400 mm. of rainfall per year. Now there is none. So TAP is designed to substantially assist the growth and expansion of the Great Green Wall.

TAP aims to basically alter the climate of the Sahel – back to what it was, which was self-sustaining and not fatal to humans or animals. A number of the water projects around the world are ‘legacy’ projects meant to ….to put it delicately, enhance reputations. TAP has no such interest; it is so massive, and it will involve so many countries and people that to call it an individual legacy project would be nothing more than hubris. It is and always has been about saving lives, and preventing pointless, needless deaths.

At this point there are no technology hurdles; everything is fully developed and operational somewhere in the world, successfully so. The entire system is designed, and Phase 1, which will be Mauritania, is entirely designed including pipeline manufacture.

Water Services Bill, Republic of South Africa, Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, 1997 Government Act ( 1 ) Everyone has a right of access to basic water supply and basic sanitation

( 2 ) Every water services authority must—

  • (a) take reasonable measures to realise this right; and
  • (b) provide for those measures in its development plan.
    • (1) Every water services authority has a duty to all consumers or potential consumers in its area of jurisdiction to progressively ensure efficient, affordable, economical and sustainable access to water services.
    • (2) This duty is subject to—
  • (u) the availability of resources;
  • (b) the need for an equitable allocation of resources to all consumers and potential consumers within the authority ’s area of jurisdiction;
  • (c) the need to regulate access to water services in an equitable way;
  • (d) the duty of consumers to pay reasonable charges, which must be in accordance with any prescribed norms and standards for tariffs for water services;
  • (e) the duty to conserve water resources;
  • (f) the nature, topography. zoning and situation of the land in question; and
  • (g) the right of the relevant water services authority to limit or discontinue the provision of water services if there is a failure to comply with reasonable conditions set for the provision of such services.

In making any grantor loan or giving any subsidy, the Minister must consider—

  • (a) the requirements of equity and transparency:
  • (b) the purpose of the grant, loan or subsidy;
  • (c) the main objects of this Act as set out in section 2; and
  • (d) the financial position of the applicant.
http://waterfx.co Initiative Current water systems were designed for a global population of three billion and by the end of this century we will need water for over twelve billion people.

Water is abundant, yet not always accessible in the places we need it most.

Desalinated water can be up to ten times cleaner than the water we consume from rivers, lakes and groundwater.

Solar desalination is not limited to seawater and can be deployed anywhere with a solar resource to treat and recycle impaired water. Since the energy supply is directly integrated into the desalination process, there is no need for co-location of a power plant or access to grid transmission. Solar desalination does not produce a liquid byproduct that needs to be discharged.

Generating water using solar desalination requires more land than conventional desalination, though we view this as a positive. First off, it moves desalination away from the coasts where land is expensive and access to the ocean is a challenge. By integrating the energy supply into the process, desalination can be developed anywhere with a solar resource and a source of impaired water to be treated.

http://transafricapipeline.org Initiative TAP is an 8,000 km. long freshwater pipeline which will provide clean, potable drinking water to 28-30 million people in 11 countries of the African Sahel.

Using a combination of new solar technologies and wind turbines, TAP will be carbon-neutral, develop its own power sources, and pump approximately 400,000 cubic meters a day of clean, fresh water from each African coast across 11 Sahel countries.

TAP’s pipeline is the first and only permanent solution to perennial drought throughout the Sahel and will mitigate the encroachment of the desert. Currently, thousands of hectares of land are lost to desertification every year across the Sahel countries of Africa.

Fresh water will be produced from four solar-powered desalination plants, two on each coast. Each desalination plant will produce 200,000 cubic meters of fresh water per day, stored in regional tank farms along the route.

All of the water will be provided to the member states free of charge, except for a small percentage of water set aside for commercial operations. The brine from the desalination plants will not be returned to the oceans, as is the case with many current desalination plants; this practice increases ocean salinity and damages or destroys any local fisheries. Brine from TAP’s operations will be channelled to nearby salt ponds where rapid evaporation can produce large quantities of salt for harvesting. This will provide a major source of revenue to offset the costs of producing the water.

There are many efforts underway by many organizations to alleviate the perennial droughts that afflict the Sahel, other areas of Africa and other parts of the world. Many of these involve digging wells for individual villages, providing water purification methodologies and even providing clean water on a daily basis by truck. All these efforts assist individual areas or villages and many are successful for varying periods of time.

Unfortunately, virtually all these efforts eventually become ineffective or are halted for mechanical reasons, contamination, lack of training and even draining of local aquifers. At that point, local residents – usually women and girls – must return to the daily hours-long task of carrying water, sometimes for many kilometres. This eliminates their opportunity for education, work and dramatically negatively impacts food production.

For every $1 (U.S.) invested in providing clean water, the economic benefits range from $2.0 to $8.72; the Trans Africa Pipeline (TAP) represents a $14.7 billion clean water investment which equates to between $29.4 billion and $128 billion in total economic benefits. The benefits amount to $2.7 billion to $10.7 billion per PAGGW** country. These benefits accrue as 63 per cent in lost time-savings due to illness and water collection, 28 per cent in productivity increases, and 9 per cent in savings on health care costs.

http://www.lquid.co Initiative LQUID™ is a global network of water users who are creating and securing a sustainable water future. Transfer water or secure a reliable water supply with the first platform for commercial water trading.

Water is traded peer-to-peer from existing and recycled (desalinated) water sources using a digital smart-water contract, making water transactions seamless, transparent and 100% secure.

http://www.greatgreenwall.org Initiative The Great Green Wall is an African-led movement with an epic ambition to grow an 8,000km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of Africa.

A decade in and roughly 15% underway, the initiative is already bringing life back to Africa’s degraded landscapes at an unprecedented scale, providing food security, jobs and a reason to stay for the millions who live along its path.

Once complete, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, 3 times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.

46% of African land is degraded, jeopardizing the livelihoods of nearly two-thirds of the Continent’s population.

By 2030, the Wall aims to restore 100 million hectares of currently degraded land, sequester 250 million tonnes of carbon and create 10 million jobs in rural areas.

The Great Green Wall supports an astonishing 15 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Jay Famiglietti at TEDx: Can We End the Global Water Crisis?, 2014 Lecture There’s something like a billion people that lack reliable access to potable water, and that’s a number that’s just way too big. One out of seven and unfortunately, I believe that the number is getting bigger.

There’s a crisis of economics. Is there sufficient wealth to build and maintain the infrastructure that’s required to treat and distribute water? And there’s a crisis of understanding. Do people and our elected officials really understand what’s going on with water locally, regionally, nationally, globally, because I think if they did, we could make tremendous progress towards managing our way through this crisis.

What are we spending this money on, this water money? We’re spending it on agriculture and food. Most of the water we use in the water globally we use for agriculture, something like 80 or 90%. In the dry parts of the planet, most of this comes from groundwater, yet it is being removed from the ground at a very rapid pace the world over. We have to eat so obviously this is a problem we need to solve.

At least 2 billion people rely on groundwater as their primary water source, and most of their water comes from these aquifers, and so the groundwater depletion we see is a global phenomenon that threatens to significantly increase the number of people affected by the global water crisis from 1 billion to some number, much greater than 1 billion.

https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity Web page Water covers 70% of our planet

Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, and two-thirds of that is tucked away in frozen glaciers or otherwise unavailable for our use.

1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and a total of 2.7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year.

Inadequate sanitation is also a problem for 2.4 billion people—they are exposed to diseases, such as cholera and typhoid fever, and other water-borne illnesses.

By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages

Royal Geographical society interview with Professor Judith Rees Web page A challenge which is likely to be exacerbated as water demands increase with population growth, changing food consumption patterns, urbanisation and industrialisation.

The UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing by half the number of people without access to an improved water source has been met, except in sub-Saharan Africa

The OECD projected that, by 2050, 40% of the population, some 3.9 billion people, will be dependent on water stressed river basins and some analysts argue that with those relying on ground water sources, 50% of the world’s population will be facing water scarcity problems.

Countries, such as South Africa, have undertaken water law reform, still others (for example Australia and Chile) have introduced water markets, and some have made enormous investments to provide water services to their citizens.

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/water-and-sanitation/ Web page 3 in 10 people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 6 in 10 people lack access to safely managed sanitation facilities.

Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to rise. Over 1.7 billion people are currently living in river basins where water use exceeds recharge.

By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all

By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/water/ Web page One of the most important recent milestones has been the recognition in July 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly of the human right to water and sanitation. The Assembly recognized the right of every human being to have access to sufficient water for personal and domestic uses (between 50 and 100 litres of water per person per day), which must be safe, acceptable and affordable;(water costs should not exceed 3 per cent of household income), and physically accessible (the water source has to be within 1,000 metres of the home and collection time should not exceed 30 minutes).

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 is to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.  The targets cover all aspects of both the water cycle and sanitation systems, and their achievement is designed to contribute to progress across a range of other SDGs, most notably on health, education, economics and the environment.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/clean-water-access-around-the-world/#select/TOT/total Web page In 1990, as part of the Millennium Development Goals, the UN set a target to halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water. The world hit this goal in 2010, and as of 2015, some 90 percent of the world’s people now have access to “improved” water—water from sources such as pipes or wells that are protected from contamination, primarily fecal matter.

. Eight out of ten people without access to clean water live in rural areas. In fact, 84 percent of people in rural areas have safe drinking water, compared with 96 percent in urban areas.

https://isi-water.com/desalination-and-development-in-africa/ Web page Experts estimate that between 75 and 250 million people will live in water-stressed areas of Africa by 2030.

The African continent is home to the largest food-insecure population on Earth. The UNDP reports that within the last decade 1 in 4 Africans were undernourished.

Climate change is causing temperatures to rise and rainfall to decrease on the African continent. As a result, we’re seeing more desertification, less river flow, and drought is becoming the norm in many sub-Saharan nations.

Seawater desalination treatment stands out as an efficient solution to Africa’s timely water shortage issues. On an arid continent where 39 out of 54 total countries border an ocean or a sea, there’s really no question about the practicality of investing in desalination technology on a mass scale to supplement water conservation and recycling.

For example, the first ever desalination plant in Ghana—and all of West Africa for that matter—was inaugurated in 2015. The plant provides enough water for the 500,000 residents of Accra, in addition to creating 400 jobs. Desalination technology can solve the issue of water shortage and produce a new industry dedicated to ensuring that local and regional water needs are met.

https://www.dw.com/en/making-seawater-into-drinking-water-with-the-help-of-the-sun/a-39924334 Web page Abengoa will undertake the engineering, construction, operation and maintenance of the plant for 27 years. The project will produce 275,000 cubic meters (m3) of desalinated seawater daily, to supply 150,000 m3 water for drinking as well as 125,000 m3 for irrigation of 13,600 hectares of farmland near Agadir, a coastal town in western Morocco. The contract provides for a possible future capacity expansion up to 450,000 cubic meters a day.

At present, less than 1 percent of the world’s population depends on desalinated seawater for its daily fresh-water supply. There are around 21,000 large desalination plants in operation; most are in the Middle East.

The cost of desalination always must be compared with the cost of piping or trucking fresh water from somewhere it can be obtained without needing desalination – i.e. from lakes, rivers, or freshwater aquifers.

https://wle.cgiar.org/thrive/2013/05/23/desalination-using-renewable-energy-–-it-answer-water-scarcity Web page From a mere global capacity of less than 1 million m3/day in 1970s, it has progressed to over 70 million m3/day capacity in 2012.

Energy cost forms a large component of costs of desalination – up to 45% of the operative cost, which is the constraining factor in the widespread use of desalination.

Currently the top 3 countries in desalination are Saudi Arabia, USA and UAE. The Middle East and Northern African region of the world (where energy is abundant), accounts for 38% of the global capacity.

In terms of 2010 USD, the cost of desalination has fallen from USD 9/m3 in 1970 to about USD 0.5/m3. This can be attributed to improvements in desalination technology and increases in the scale of operations.


https://www.energy.gov/articles/department-energy-announces-21-million-advance-solar-desalination-technologies Web page U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $21 million for new projects to advance solar-thermal desalination technologies. These 14 projects are focused on reducing the cost of solar-thermal desalination and helping the technology to reach new markets, including to areas that are not connected to the electric grid.

Four markets that are particularly attractive for solar desalination technologies include: municipal water production, agriculture, industrial processes, and the purification of water produced from energy development, including oil and gas extraction.

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/6_Why-it-Matters_Sanitation_2p.pdf Web page Around 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is fecally contaminated. Some 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines. Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to rise.

A study by the World Bank Group, UNICEF and the World Health Organization estimates that extending basic water and sanitation services to the unserved would cost US$28.4 billion per year from 2015 to 2030, or 0.10 per cent of the global product of the 140 countries included in its study.

The economic impact of not investing in water and sanitation costs 4.3 per cent of sub-Saharan African GDP. The World Bank estimates that 6.4 per cent of India’s GDP is lost due to adverse economic impacts and costs of inadequate sanitation.

https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/water-stress-sub-saharan-africa Web page Mark Giordano of the International Water Management Institute in Colombo Sri Lanka says, “Most water extracted for development in sub-Saharan Africa—drinking water, livestock watering, irrigation—is at least in some sense ’transboundary’.” Because water sources are often cross-border, conflict emerges.

Of the 980 large dams in sub-Saharan Africa, around 589 are in South Africa, whereas Tanzania, a country with nearly the same land mass and population, only has two large dams.

Possible examples of agreements which might be argued to have fostered later conflict include those in the Nile Basin (1929 and 1959) and between South Africa and Lesotho (1986).

About 64 percent of Africans rely on water that is limited and highly variable

Roughly 25 percent of Africa’s population suffers from water stress

In Africa, which accounts for 90 percent of global cases of malaria, water stress plays an indirect role in curing malaria because it impedes the human recovery process.


http://www.itccanarias.org/web/tecnologias/agua/dessol.jsp?lang=en Web page As part of desalination processes, reverse osmosis is the one that has had the greatest advance due to its modularity and the significant reduction in the consumption of energy (<3 kWh/m3). However, electrical energy is associated with the consumption of traditional sources of primary energy (fossil fuels, nuclear energy), and the consequent environmental impacts.

On the other hand, its application requires the existence of a quality electricity grid. The implementation of autonomous desalination systems using renewable energies offers the solution to this problem, especially in areas with lack of fresh water that are isolated from the electrical grid.

Basically, the reverse osmosis technology makes optimal use of the electricity from a photovoltaic solar field with accumulation of energy in order to obtain the necessary drinking water in any shore location or inland environment with brackish water that is isolated from the electricity grid.

The system is conceived for small settlements (1-1500 inhabitants), since the scale/cost factor of the required investment/land restricts the capacity of production installed to 100 m3/day (a little more than 4 m3/h). This implies a real production of about 30 cubic metres per day (7-8 hours of daily production), depending on the solar energy availability and optimization of the batteries backup system.

The investment costs of a system of this type are between €4,000 and €7,000 per daily cubic metre of nominal capacity (24 hours/day), depending on the salinity of the raw water, the latitude of the location, remoteness and the expected level of maintenance and monitoring of the system (remote maintenance or local presence).


  • The system permits a design so it can be adapted to the local conditions of a specific location.
  • The system can operate perfectly in automatic mode, with a minimum involvement of the maintenance staff.
  • There are hardly any companies capable of offering combined systems (desalination plant + photovoltaic field).
  • Only the ITC has a protected know-how associated with the combination of these technologies, their design, operation and control.
  • There is already notable experience in the installation, testing and operation of these systems – tested on a pilot scale and with five operating units (Tunisia and Morocco) in isolated villages with drinking water demand.
  • Favourable position with regard to the lack of fossil fuels or their increasing costs in developed countries. This is a non-competitive alternative to the current conventional energy prices, but looking at the future, the experience gained will serve to promote this technology in a decentralised way.
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/02/cape-town-running-out-of-water-drought-taps-shutoff-other-cities/ Web page For years, a shutdown of this magnitude in such a cosmopolitan city had been almost inconceivable. But as overdevelopment, population growth, and climate change upset the balance between water use and supply, urban centers from North America to South America and from Australia to Asia increasingly face threats of severe drinking-water shortages.

For months, citizens have been urged to consume less, but more than half of residents ignored those volunteer restrictions. So earlier in January, the city requested even steeper cuts, asking residents to consume just 50 liters per day—less than one-sixth of what the average American uses. If consumption doesn’t drop steeply and quickly, city officials warned this week, everyone will be forced into Day Zero, where all will have to live on far less—about 25 liters a day, less than typically used in four minutes of showering.

“I’m not sure if we’ll be able to avert Day Zero,” says Kevin Winter, lead researcher at an urban water group at the University of Cape Town. “We’re using too much water, and we can’t contain it. It’s tragic.”

In 2014, the six dams were full, but then came three straight years of drought—the worst in more than a century. Now, according to NASA data, reservoirs stand at 26 percent of capacity, with the single largest, which provides half the city’s water, in the worst shape. City officials plan to cut the taps when the reservoirs hit 13.5 percent.

Competition for water is increasing, as population growth drives demand for drinking water and agriculture and as countries become more affluent. In fact, cities aren’t always even aware that the water they think they can count has been claimed or polluted or is being consumed by other users.

In South Africa, the ruling African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance, the opposition party that runs the city, each have some responsibility for maintaining or administering water. Experts suggest that each made fundamental missteps.

  • “Both believed that this would be a short-term drought and that things would return to normal at some point,” Turton says. “But climate change is a factor now, and it’s only begun to dawn on them how much the demand for water will just keep increasing.”

Four new desalination plants are under construction. New water wells are being drilled and a plant that would reuse effluent is being built. Most of those projects are more than half completed.

https://www.desalination.biz/news/0/Abengoas-project-in-Agadir-Morocco-expands-in-size-and-scope/8790/ Web page The project combines two schemes, one for the Office National de l’Electricité et de l’Eau Potable (ONEE), and the other for the ministry of agriculture, sea fishery, rural development, water and forests.


The first sees an increase in capacity from 100,000 to 150,000 m3/d at the desalination project that was awarded to Abengoa by ONEE in 2014, and is in development. The second award is for 125,000 m3/d of desalinated water for irrigation purposes, and a distribution network to cover 13,600 hectares of farmland.

Further, the project provides for potential expansion of the existing total contracted capacity of 275,000 m3/d, up to 450,000 m3/d.

The value of the project is €309 million ($351 million), of which approximately €250 million is for the desalination facilities, and €59 million covers 44 kilometres of pipeline, a 35,000 m3 capacity water tank, two pumping stations, two loading tanks, and three high voltage power lines. Abengoa is to provide engineering, construction, and operations and maintenance for 27 years. The project additionally provides for possibly using wind power.

The aim of the expanded project is to provide drinking water to 2.3 million inhabitants in the region by 2030, to support agriculture and tourism, and to help conserve local aquifers.

Abengoa and InfraMaroc of Morocco will oversee project financing, and Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur (BMCE Bank) is reportedly connected to the project.

The cost of produced water will be approximately $0.52 per m3, reports Morocco World News.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Water_Carrier_of_Israel Web page The National Water Carrier of Israel is the largest water project in Israel. Its main task is to transfer water from the Sea of Galilee in the north of the country to the highly populated centre and arid south and to enable efficient use of water and regulation of the water supply in the country. Up to 72,000 cubic meters (19,000,000 U.S. gal; 16,000,000 imp gal) of water can flow through the carrier each hour, totalling 1.7 million cubic meters in a day.

Most of the water works in Israel are combined with the National Water Carrier, the length of which is about 130 kilometres (81 mi).[3] The carrier consists of a system of giant pipes, open canals, tunnels, reservoirs and large scale pumping stations. Building the carrier was a considerable technical challenge as it traverses a wide variety of terrains and elevations.

It was started during the tenure of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, but was completed in June 1964 under Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, at a cost of about 420 million Israeli lira (at 1964 values). The National Water Carrier was inaugurated in 1964, with 80% of its water being allocated to agriculture and 20% for drinking water. As time passed however, increasing amounts were consumed as drinking water, and by the early 1990s, the National Carrier was supplying half of the drinking water in Israel. It was forecast that by the year 2010 80% of the National Carrier will be directed more at providing drinking water. The reasons for the increased demand for drinking water was twofold. Firstly, Israel saw rapid population growth, primarily in the centre of the country which increased demands for water. Furthermore, as the standard of living in the country rose, there was increased domestic water use. As a result of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace, among other items, Israel agreed to transfer 50 million cubic metres of water annually to Jordan.

Nowadays water from the Sea of Galilee supplies approximately 10% of Israel’s drinking water needs. In recent years the Israeli government has undertaken extensive investments in water reclamation and desalination infrastructure in the country, while promoting water conservation. This has lessened the country’s reliance on the National Water Carrier and has allowed it to significantly reduce the amount of water pumped from the Sea of Galilee annually in an effort to restore and improve the lake’s ecological environment, especially in face of persistent severe droughts affecting the lake’s intake basin in recent years. It is expected that in 2016 only about 25,000,000 cubic metres (880,000,000 cu ft) of water will be drawn from the lake for Israeli domestic water consumption, down from more than 300,000,000 cubic metres (1.1×1010 cu ft) pumped annually a decade earlier.

Since its construction, the resulting diversion of water from the Jordan River has been a source of tension with Syria and Jordan. In 1964, Syria attempted construction of a Headwater Diversion Plan that would have prevented Israel from using a major portion of its water allocation, sharply reducing the capacity of the carrier. This project and Israel’s subsequent physical attack on those diversion efforts in 1965 were factors which played into regional tensions culminating in the 1967 Six-Day War. In the course of the war, Israel captured from Syria the Golan Heights, which contain some of the sources of the Sea of Galilee.

https://geographyfieldwork.com/NationalWaterPlanEnvironmentalThreats.htm Web page 1. Increased Salinisation

The transfer of water from the Ebro to increase areas under irrigation will increase the salinisation of the Delta, according to the biologist Carles Ibáñez. The reduction in the volume of fresh water as a result of the National Hidrológico Plan, will lead to an increase in the penetration of salt water in the estuary of this river. The expansion of irrigated land in the river basin will also increase the concentration of salt in the river due to reduced flow levels. The risk is that in time the salinisation will lead to reduced crop yields, because the rice fields and other crops are irrigated with river water.

5. Contamination of the water

When the wedge of marine water in the river estuary remains a long time, the water of the river rots. Salt water, that is located in the lower level, does not mix with the better oxygenated fresh water above and the accumulation of organic matter that this causes leads to the consumption of oxygen and that the water ends up rotting. The lower the volume of the river, the greater the phenomenon of rotten water. In the past, there was a thriving fishing industry in the river estuary. Today, however, it is fished very little, because most of the water lacks oxygen.

6. Effects upon the food chain

The fresh water arriving from the river has a fertilizing effect on the sea through the contribution of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus), that, when mixed with salt water, encourages the growth of plankton, the bases of the marine food chain. A reduced flow will affect the plankton growth and the food chain dependent upon it.

In addition, the estuary is an ideal location for the mixing of sea bed organic matter through wave and river turbulence. If less turbulence takes place due to reduced river flow, less mixing will occur and there will be less biological wealth in the coastal strip. Furthermore, the delta of the Ebro is very productive because the irrigation water that passes through the fertilised rice fields arrives nutrified in the bays where a significant marine aquaculture (oysters, mussels) has developed. If the volume of river water is not guaranteed, this production may suffer.

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