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Providing Fresh Water to Arid Regions in the World Essay

An investigation on the feasibility of different techniques for providing fresh water to arid regions in the world.

Located in a semi-arid zone, South Africa is one of the thirty driest countries in the world with limited water resources, which are unevenly distributed. In this country, five million people of the population have no access to safe drinking water and nearly fifteen million lack basic sanitation. The lack of drinking water is a serious problem, since there are more than 1.6 million children under five years whom die every year worldwide.(the water project 2012). This report will assess the feasibility of different techniques for providing drinkable water to South Africa. It will also present different options suitable for arid regions, looking to improve their water resources comparing them, and then concluding by pointing out which is the most feasible and efficient technique.

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From apartheid to epidemics such as aids or tuberculosis, South Africa has experienced several disasters. Now it has to face a new crisis: an abundance of drinkable water. In fact there is several reasons to explain this water crisis. Firstly, the climate change has affected the water supply as rain has become increasingly scarce. For instance “in Durban the dams are 20 per cent lower than at the start of 2010”. (the water projet) Moreover, the problem of pollution rages; in fact, mining plants in South Africa throw all their toxic and radioactive waste in African rivers. They dump highly toxic substances such as mercury, arsenic and uranium in the river, as it is toxic and reacts violently with water, once in it the water will be contaminated. The water will therefore have a highly acidic pH of 2.2 (pH level close to that of a lemon). For instance, Wonderfontein Spruit River, one of the largest rivers in South Africa is extremely polluted due to the 50 tons of uranium mining plants have dumped into the river. Likewise, Lake Robinson, a fishing lake, has today a uranium concentration of 16mg/L due to toxic waste; (the guardian). consequently more than 1.6 million people die each year.(waterwise2012)


1. Setting up Tidal power plants to purify water which could be installed in the Atlantic Ocean, located next to South Africa; these tidal power plants derive their energy from the force of the tide. With this process, when the water is raised energy is produced, the water could then be filtered through a filtering system (reverse osmosis). Through this, these plants will not only produce energy from a renewable energy source, but also filter the polluted water. (inventors.about.2012) 2. Excavation of a groundwater is another solution to provide a fresh water supply. This resource, which makes up 15 per cent of the drinkable water in South Africa, represents an important source of water. It can provide water to more than 400 cities (water.dwa.gov). In over 90% of the country, it occurs in hard rocks, which have no pore spaces, and it is powered by the infiltration of rainwater (Anthonyturton). This is acquired by drilling a bore, which is then fitted with a pipe into the aquifer, pumping the water to the surface (gwd, 2012). In addition, it is high quality water, as a layer of clay that acts as a filter protects it.

3. Measuring and monitoring water quality
is also a great way to make sure the water in the country are usable. It helps limit and suppress the release of toxic and radioactive waste into the rivers of Africa. The government must put in place measures prohibiting any discharge that may contaminate the water. To achieve this, the government must find an alternative solution for the toxic waste dumped into the rivers such as collection center set up in order to collect the waste and possibly even recycle the waste. If this is done, then many of the rivers and lakes in South Africa will be clean again and could become a clean water resource once again.


1. Setting up power plants is another solution that could be used. The tidal power plants provide an almost inexhaustible amount of water, thus sufficient not only for the entire population but also for its agricultural and industrial sectors. Moreover, since these plants use renewable energy and non-polluting, it reduces the concentration of pollution added to the water. However, the implementation of these tidal power plants is expensive and therefore need investment from the government and organizations, which might not be able to provide (Elmelech 2006). However, the invention of new “nanotechnology” can reduce expenditures and promote the installment. (Polyzou 2010) 2. Excavation of groundwater: The groundwater does not pollute as easily as other water sources.

Indeed, according to Carr and Neary it may take years to be able to pollute the reserve’s groundwater. However, the ground has disadvantages as the amount of water, which is not renewable. In fact, the majority of groundwater has been charged over the previous periods, in different climates. As fossil fuels were created under conditions that have not existed for a long time, this “freshwater fossil” is considered non-renewable. Thus, once aquifers have declined they will cease to be a resource because they will not charge in the future. (groundwater.org) 3. Monitoring or measuring water quality develop
enacted anti-pollution measures is a solution that doesn’t require great expenditures. Indeed, water already exists and is eager not to be polluted, to be drunk. But in a developing country, like South Africa, the corruption, which is everywhere, prevents the compliance with these measures.


To conclude, the water crisis, which rages in South Africa, is due to human activities. To cope, the country has several alternatives such as set up power plants, excavation of a groundwater or monitoring or measuring water quality. All these options, which have the same aim: to provide fresh water, present advantages but also inconveniences. In one hand, the reserve of groundwater may be out of stock due to the growth of population and the insufficiency of water. However, on other hand, the installment of tidal power plants can be a surprisingly costly project. The best solution seems to implement protocol against pollution of fresh water, as it’s effective, practical, and not an expensive way.


1. The Water Project.(2012).Water In Crisis – Spotlight South Africa.[online] Available at: < http://thewaterproject.org/water-in-crisis-south-africa.php> [Accessed 24 November 2012].

2. Waterwise.(2012).Water Wise – Causes of Water Pollution. [online] Available at: <http://www.waterwise.co.za/site/water/environment/causes-of-water-pollution.html > [Accessed 20 November 2012].

3. gwd. (2012). Ground water division of GSSA. [Online] Available at: < http://www.environment.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/153332/UMCCC_Groundwater_Factsheet.pdf> . [Accessed 23 November 2012].

4. Bellis.M. How Tidal Power Plants Work. [online] Available at: <http://inventors.about.com/od/tstartinventions/a/tidal_power.htm> [Accessed 11 November 2012].

5. Woodford.A and Rosewarne.P. (2012). HOW MUCH GROUNDWATER DOES SOUTH AFRICA HAVE?. [Online] Available at: < http://www.anthonyturton.com/admin/my_ documents/my_files/SRK_Woodfood_How_much_Groundwater_does_SA_have.pdf > [Accessed 16 November 2012].

6. Polyzou.E. Willigness to pay for drinking water quality improvement and the the influence of social capitall. [Online] Available at: < http://www.liv.ac.uk/libraby/e-books.htlm > [Accessed 12 November 2012].

7. Elimelech.M.(2005). The global challenge for adequate and safe water. [Online] Available at: < <http://www.liv.ac.uk/libraby/e-books.htlm > [Accessed 10 November 2012].

8. Carr,G. and Neary.J (2008).water quality for ecosystem and human health. [Online] Available at: < http://www.unep.org/gemswater/Portals/24154/publications/pdfs/water_quality_human_health.pdf > [Accessed 18 November 2012].

9. Groundwater.org.what is the groundwater?. [Online] Available at: < http://www.groundwater.org/kc/whatis.html> [Accessed 17 November 2012].

10. Dwa.gov. Background of the NORAD Assisted Programme on the Sustainable Development of Groundwater Sources under the Community Water and Sanitation Programme in South Africa. [Online] Available at: < http://www.dwa.gov.za/Groundwater/norad.aspx> [Accessed 17 November 2012].

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