GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 178-14
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


ISIORHO, K. Solomon, Biology Dept. (formerly of Geosciences Dept.), Purdue University Fort Wayne (PFW), 2101 E. Coliseum Blvd, Fort Wayne, IN 46805-1499

The availability of fresh water affects every aspect of our lives from food, general health, energy to security. There is greater demand for fresh water with the rapid increase in population and economic growth. The current ongoing water shortage problem in Cape Town, (located along the Atlantic coast Africa), should be a wakeup call for all people. The geographic location, climate, and human activities may have led to this “drying” of potable water supply for this city and other major cities such as Cairo, Mexico, and San Paulo.

Several reasons have been attributed to the shortage of potable water in Cape Town; climate change, farming practice, and politics. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 100 liters per person per day with a minimum of 25L/p/d fresh water needed for basic hygiene. From personal experience of living in the arid Lake Chad region, people in this region have been known to live with about 10L/p/d of fresh water, similar to what we used during a trip to Cape Town in the summer of 2018.

A small sample survey of residents’ opinions reveals that there is no single reason for the water shortage in the city. Some of the residents believe there is no water shortage problem, but simply a political problem. Others attribute the shortage to climate change, and the rest attribute it to farming practice and increase in population. The Cape Town local government proposed a 27% increase in water tariff as a way to conserve water. This is being opposed by businesses and residents. Tourism is also affected as visitors are required to minimize the use of water, flushing toilets, bathing, washing of dishes and laundry. What can and should we learn from the Cape Town experience? During the visit, we survived with 10L/p/d of fresh water. Within the city, greywater is being harnessed for lawn maintenance, flushing of toilet and other non-hygienic functions. The use of greywater helps the municipality, reduce water use, and saves the residents money by reduce water.