Water Supply Scheme for the Langrug Settlement in South Africa
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Water Supply Scheme for the Langrug Settlement in South Africa
According to the United Nations Habitat Program, an informal settlement can be defined into two ways. First, it entails residential areas which hosts a group of housing units which has been constructed on a piece of land whose the occupants have no legal claim, or the occupants have no occupied it illegally. Secondly, an informal settlement may also entail unplanned areas of settlement s where the type of houses that has been constructed have not meet the requirements of the current planning and building regulations (unauthorized housing) (World Health Oragnaization, 2018). It is worth noting that the unauthorized housing does not include units where land leases, titles or occupancy permits have been granted. A good example of an informal settlement is the Langrug settlement, which has approximately 7, 000 residents and it’s a home to more than 2500 sharks. The settlement is located in the scenic wine-farm area of Franschhoek, near Stellenbosch in South Africa. In this settlement, approximately one third of the population have not access to social amenities such as sanitary facilities, electricity, health care facilities and electricity.
Water Supply Issues Faced By the Informal Settlements
Water supply has been one of the major issues affecting the residents of the informal settlements. The individuals living in the informal settlements set against a global backdrop of increasingly threatened water supplies and experience a huge challenge of accessing sanitation services. Informal settlements which are situated in the outskirts of the urban areas find it challenging to access piped water, especially due to the fact that the city councils rarely consider implementing long term water connection and supply services to these individuals, since they know the settlements will one day be evacuated elsewhere. Another reason that makes the municipal councils fear to implement long terms water connection options is the fact that most of plots of land in the informal settlements are in unplanned, while others are not even recognized by the municipal or policy authorities because of land tenure issues. The situation forces the locals to seek for individual means of accessing water, some of which includes buying from water vendors or kiosks which distribute water to individuals at the community level. The problem is that the quality of the water being sold out in these kiosks is not guaranteed, and this jeopardizes the health of the locals to a large extent. Additionally, due to the lack of adequate water supply, coupled with congestion of the housing units and individuals, the disposal of solid wastes, ranging from solid and liquid is poor (Adams 2018, pp. 869-873). To some extent, the risk of drinking water sources being contaminated with sewer, especially during the rainy seasons cannot be under-estimated. Actually, the prevalence of water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea is high in the informed settlements.
The Economic, Geographical, and Environmental Factors Which Influence the Water Supply Issues In The Informal Settlements
The challenge of supplying adequate water in the informal settlements is influenced by a number of factors. These settlements are mostly in the developing countries, where funds for economic development is not high. Actually, majority of the developing countries rely on grants and loans from other developed countries and the World Bank in order to finance infrastructural projects, which are in the long run anticipated to contribute to revenue generation. For this reason, investing in a project which will not be having long terms benefits to the local government, county or country will not be worthwhile. In this connection, the municipal councils do contemplate that investing in the connection of water networks in the informal settle is a temporary investment, since the residents can be evacuated anytime (Tshabalala, 2013). Precisely, most of the utility companies, such as the water and sewerage companies feel being insecure to build bulk infrastructure in the informal settlements since the land that the residents occupy was settled illegally. The politicians rarely have the will of settling the water challenging in the informal settlements once and for all, despite them having the potential and the financial muscle to do so. This is mostly due to the fact that the residents in the informal settlements, especially those which are situated in the urban areas, come from diverse regions and, therefore, their political supports are diverse. Actually, most of the informal settlements tends to be cosmopolitan, and supporting one politician as a block is challenge, and this makes it challenging for the latter for help them out. Sadly, majority of the politicians use the challenges of the residents in the informal settlements as campaign tools, and after being elected into office they forget to fulfil the campaign promises.
Additionally, the environmental conditions in the informal settlements are poor, and the risk of any water connection system being contaminated with solid and liquid wastes is high. Additionally, the increase of water kiosks, which sell water to the residents makes it challenging for the municipal councils or even donors to install permanent water connection networks. Actually, if a donor happens to provide water a point of water collection in the informal settlement, the probability of the water collection point being vandalized by the owners of water kiosks and water brokers is high. The water brokers feel that the donors who might be attempting to solve the water challenge is actually ruining his thriving business of supplying water in the region. Consecutively, the congestion of the area, coupled with the unplanned and temporary housing units in the informal settlements makes it hard for the country governments to solve the water challenge at the individual level.
Issues that the Settlement Is Facing In Terms Of Water Supply And Distribution
Considering that the piece of land that the Langrug settlement is situated belongs to the municipal council, the latter has not been dedicated in providing the locals with water connection networks. The local municipality do contemplate that in future, the inhabitants will be evacuated and there, providing pipe water for a long term basis is close to impossible. Apparently, the city council embraced a temporary strategy of providing the residents of this settlement with water and sanitation. According to the Langrug Settlement Enumeration Report that was released in 2011, there are approximately 57 water taps that have been placed at strategic points in this settlement in order to provide water for a short term basis. However, out of this number of taps, 12 of them are not functioning, and this is a clear indication that majority of the individuals in this settlement rarely access clean water for drinking, cooking and other domestic chores.
Table 1: Summary of the water and sanitation situation at Langrug Settlement (Sasdi Alliance Inc., 2011, P. 10).
As of 2011, the average number of individuals that a single tap of water was serving was approximately 72 individuals. The worrying aspects is that in the remaining 45 taps, water is not always available 24 hours in a week. Rationing is an order of the day in this region and, therefore, the residents must be available during the hours that the water is running in the taps, in order for them to harvest it. Consecutively, when the water is available and based on the topography of the location of the settlement, some taps fail to have water at all due to the low pressure. In the long run, the locals had to travel long distances in order to access water in the taps other taps that might be having running water, making the queue for water to be long than ever in some areas. Actually, the highly affected region in terms of water supply in the entire Langrug settlement is the Uphill Zwelitsha area, where three sections share only one tap. Based on the unaccounted and unavoidable scenarios such as water rationing and water having low pressure, this area may go without water for weeks if not months. The diagram below represents the distribution of individuals or the geography of the Langrug settlement, and this helps in showing the Uphill Zwelitsha described above.
Figure 1: Distribution of taps and toilets in the three main areas of the Langrub Settlement ((Sasdi Alliance Inc., 2011, P. 16).
In term of the usage of taps and toilets, the community is extremely contentious due to their limited numbers. The residents of this settlement depends on three types of systems, and these are not limited to the bush, flush toilets and a self-dug informal pit toilet. According to the Langrug Settlement Enumeration Report (2011), approximately 84.8 percent of the households depend on the flush toilets (but they rarely use them due to the lack of adequate water supply), 15.2 percent of the households depend on the bush for toilet service, while the rest have an informal pit toilet (Sasdi Alliance Inc., 2011, P. 15). The entire settlement has only 91 toilets, out of which eight of them are not functioning.
The water in this settlement comes from the city council. However, since this provision is not enough for the entire community, the later do improvise other methods of having water, including harvesting and storing rain water as well as buying from the water kiosks. Rain water is only available during the rainy season, and for a household to have enough rain water, it must have a large reservoir for storing the harvested water. However, only a limited number of households manage to store large volumes of water, and this is due to the fact that majority of the locals do not have the financial muscle of purchasing large tanks.
Ways of Mitigating the Water Challenge In The Langrug Settlement
In order to mitigate the challenge of water shortage at Langrug settlement, an innovative slow sand filtration method can be embraced. This water treatment scheme entails a number of processes, which starts right from the time water is tapped from the source, up to when it is distributed to the final consumers. The major source of the water that can be used to mitigate the water challenge in the settlement is from the Berg River Dam, which, through its effective design, efficiently captures winter water and stores it for supply to the neighboring towns especially during the summer months. The water in this dam also comes from the surface water that drains from the settlements and other neighboring areas and drain into the Berth River. What happens is that an intake pipe is inserted into the dam to convey water from the Berg River Dam into a large rectangular or cylindrical tank. The intake pipe is furnished with a wire mesh at the intake point in order to sieve debris, leaves and other aquatic animals like fish from entering into the treatment plant. Additionally, the intake pipe has a protective bar screen, whose primary role is to regulate the flow of water from the source to the holding tank. At this point, the core treatment step is filtration.
The collected water from the holding reservoir is then pumped and conveyed to a pre-chlorination tank. In this tank, chemical coagulants such as alum are added into the water and allowed to settle. At this stage, the coagulants produces positive charges which neutralizes the negative charges on the particles which might be in the water. The water is then contain in the coagulation tank for approximately 15 to 20 minutes in order to allow the particles to stick together and form large particles, which can be easily be removed through the slow sand water treatment method (Guchi, 2015, PP. 47-55). After the 20 minutes, the fine particles in the water will have clumped together into a floc, which may float at the top of the water (creaming) or settle at the base of the tank (sedimentation) and be readily filtered from the water. The process of small particulates clumping together into a floc is the flocculation stage. The water is then conveyed into a sedimentation tank, where is it allowed to settle, especially in order for the fine particulates to crumb into a large particles which can easily be filtered from the water. The flocs settles at the sedimentation tank before the water is conveyed into the sand filtration. The table below shows some of the impurities which can be in the raw water at the berth river dam.
Table 2: Some of the contaminants which may be present in the raw water collected from the Berth River Dam (Fell 2017, p. 20).
The slow sand filters entails a tank with sand filters of different sizes ranging from 0.15 to o.35 mm. the filters are organized in such a way that those with larger sizes are at the top, while the fine filters (those with the size of 0.15 mm) are at the bottom of the sand filtration tank. The sand filters of different sizes are used in order to remove a large percentage of cryptosporidium, coliforms, and Giardia cysts among others. The water is instilled from the top of the sand filtration tank, at a flow rate of 0.1 to 0.3 m/h or (m3/h/m2), which is equivalent to 100-300 L/h per m2 of filter area (Seeger et al. 2016, pp. 635-644). The fine sand filters use physical processes such as adsorption, sedimentation and straining in order to eliminate fine particulates, as well as microbiological processes in order to remove bacteria and organic materials. Considering that the environmental hygiene at Langrug settlement is poor (since bush toileting services are used), disease causing organisms such as e-coli and salmonella tophi are very likely. Due to the slow filters, the raw water above may sit above the sand for hours before penetrating and being harvested at the basement of this tank. In the process of penetrating through the sand filters, the raw water undergoes a number of oxidation reactions, which breaks down organic material that might be present in the water. Algae, which grows on the sand surface eats the oxidized organized material and finally releases oxygen back into the water.
Depending on the amount of water that is required to be treated, a careful amount of chlorine is calibrated and added into the water in order to kill pathogens which might be present in the water. Some of the pathogens that might be present include bacteria (such as Vibrio cholera, E-coli), cysts, protozoa and viruses. The chlorinated water is then pumped into an elevated water storage tank, in order to generate pressure to facilitate easy distribution. The elevated storage tower can be placed at Uphill, Zwelitsha area in order to ensure that this area gets water first.
Adams, E.A., 2018. Thirsty slums in African cities: household water insecurity in urban informal settlements of Lilongwe, Malawi. International journal of water resources development, 34(6), pp.869-887.
Fell J., (2017). An analysis of surface water from an informal settlement, Langrug, Franschhoek: down a slippery slope. University of Cape Town. Accessed from, https://open.uct.ac.za/bitstream/handle/11427/27894/thesis_sci_2018_fell_jessica.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Guchi, E., 2015. Review on slow sand filtration in removing microbial contamination and particles from drinking water. American Journal of Food and Nutrition, 3(2), pp.47-55.
Sasdi Alliance Inc. (2011). Langrug Settlement Enumeration Report. Accessed from, http://sasdialliance.org.za/wpcontent/uploads/docs/reports/Enumerations/Langrug_Enumeration_Report.pdf
Seeger, E.M., Braeckevelt, M., Reiche, N., Müller, J.A. and Kästner, M., 2016. Removal of pathogen indicators from secondary effluent using slow sand filtration: Optimization approaches. Ecological engineering, 95, pp.635-644.
Tshabalala T., (2013). The Langrug Wash Facility: a new common space for the community. Retrieved from, https://www.urbanafrica.net/urban-voices/langrug-wash-facility-new-common-space-community/
World Health Oragnaization, (2018). People Living in Informal Settlements. Retrieved from, https://www.who.int/ceh/indicators/informalsettlements.pdf
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