#WaterWatch

When water saving solutions go horribly wrong

While South Africa is still trying to find solutions to the water crisis as a result of drought, experts advise that rushed decisions could end up doing more harm than solving the problem.

One solution suggested for our dams, was to follow a Californian model that saw thousands of small plastic balls pumped onto the surface of dams to prevent evaporation.

During their time on the reservoir, the balls are estimated to have saved 1.7 million cubic metres of water.

But a new study published in Nature Sustainability shows that producing the balls used more water in their creation than was saved during their deployment.

Dr Kaveh Madani, Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London shares some of the findings into the viability of using these balls to save water.

When we looked at the cost of doing this we realised that it was crazy because the amount of water that was saved through this process was a million of dollars cheaper than the cost of the ball... You spend a lot of money into saving and the question is, is it worth it?

Dr Kaveh Madani, Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London

It was probably the mistake of the politicians for making this look like a really good idea as water evaporation suppression method and it wasn't.

Dr Kaveh Madani, Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London

The process of producing 96 million balls of standard 5mm thickness would use an estimated 2.9 million cubic metres of water because the balls are made of a kind of plastic that requires oil, natural gas and electricity to produce, all of which require large quantities of water.

To hear the rest of the interview, listen below:


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