The South African government has proposed a number of initiatives, including cloud seeding and fog harvesting, to try and combat the country’s water crisis.
Cloud seeding is a weather-modification technique that is used to increase the amount of rainfall by dispersing substances into the air that promote cloud condensation. This is already used in many desert countries like the United Arab Emirates and near airports to better control flying conditions.
Fog harvesting, rather than creating weather conditions, aims to capture freshwater in fog. To do so, mesh nets are set up between two posts that are angled perpendicularly to the wind carrying the fog. Freshwater drops form on the mesh and drip into the gutter along the bottom of the mesh.
Minister of Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu outlined these different strategies to combat the fact that South Africa receives less than the world’s average rainfall. She said that this puts an immeasurable strain on the delivery of water services to the general populace, as the natural rainfall is currently less than reliable.
“The recent drought, the worst for many decades, has also not helped the situation as we can see the very negative impact on the country’s economy, especially on the agricultural sector, affecting food security and exports,” she said “As the water and sanitation sector, we need to look at new ways of providing the services that we are responsible for.”
The governments solutions include:
- Implement drought operating rules;
- Institute borehole drilling and/or rehabilitation;
- Water tankering from available sources;
- Rainwater & fog harvesting;
- Protection and use of springs;
- Cloud seeding;
- Evaporation suppression;
- Desalination of brackish groundwater or seawater and;
- Effluent treatment and re-use, etc.
While new technologies can help, Sisulu acknowledged that the best short term solution is strict restriction rules to help the strained resources.