Thursday, January 18, 2018

Mayor Patricia de Lille says that Cape Town will run out of water in April 2018

The Water Crisis just got a lot worse. Actually the crisis's status didn't change. The City finally woke up. And the City blames its citizens, when it is quite clearly the City's fault. Join now. Make an impact. Save Cape Town.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Mercedes on my roof: my 51st Birthday Message

Do you have a Mercedes on your roof? Written 18th May 2015.

I do!

Actually its not a Mercedes. It's a Renewable Energy System and part of it is on my roof and part of it is in my Garage.

I bought it in late 2008 and it was all installed and running by April 2009. A friend of mine and I installed it!

Everybody, except my wife, said I was crazy. Why would anyone want to buy an electricity generation system rather than buying a Mercedes? I had even just test driven the new shape Mercedes in 2008 and a friend asked me when I was going to buy it.

As it was I spent R200,000 on the physical equipment and another R100,000 on a one month business trip to the USA, where I learnt about Grid Tie Photovoltaics (PV), wrote the NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) Entry Level exam and attended conferences, in Phoenix Arizona, and in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Total R300,000, the cost of my new Mercedes.

Today the R200,000 component is about R70,000 and the education is priceless.

By the time I went to the USA in February 2009, I had already put over 1,000 hours into R&D (research and development) re learning about my first renewable energy system.

And every time I arrived in my garage after that, in my Renault Clio, which is now 14 years old, I saw my Mercedes on my wall and on my roof.

Load shedding has effected everyone I know, except us. Lots of people I know have recently done installs and they are getting to be like us now, and we are so welcoming of them. Thank you for joining this retirement party.

In my view, one is retired when one doesn't have any expenses. By 2008, Mirjana and I only had spent 9 years working on our retirement plan and I only had to work for 8 days a month to pay all our expenses. One day we will be back there.

Back in 2009, everyone was asking me how long this system was going to pay off. We worked out that it was costing us about R5 per kWh, when City of Cape Town electricity was only costing us 50 cents per kWh. Mirjana said it would take 20 years to pay it off.

In hindsight, I realised that we paid off this "car" off in 5 years, just like we would have paid off the real car. And so from January 2009 till December 2013, we paid off the car, and then in January 2014, our electricity bill suddenly dropped from R5,000 per month to R350 per month. If we hadn't done anything, then in January 2014, our electricity bill would have been R1,800 per month.

So in the past 17 months we have saved about R26,000 in electricity costs AND had no load shedding.

We still have a way to go as we want to add a pool cover this year, increase our PV from 1 kW to between 4 and 5 kW, depending on how much we can put on our north facing roof, add another battery bank and add another inverter (or perhaps buy a new model), and then we won't need Eskom.

We will in fact be able to supply electricity 24 hours a day as and when the City or Eskom need it, but in order to do this we want Net Metering and Time of Use Tariffs, otherwise we just don't think its worth exporting any electricity.

At some point in the future we also want to add another 5kW to power our electric car, when we can afford it and when it is affordable for us.

Some of the incredible things that have happened in the past 7 years are:

  • I have a thriving software development business and I truly enjoy making people happy and solving problems and this fits my personality profile. I also love that I can work from anywhere in the world and travel to be with my wife's family every 18 months to two years. As our expenses continue to go down, we want to increase these visits.
  • I have become a world renowned expert in Renewable Energy. I wasn't expecting this when I started out. I thought I'd just be an installer, installing systems, but I am in demand at conferences all over the place and I have had negotiations with conference organisers overseas, but nothing materialised yet. Soon or later it will happen.
  • As part of this I have attended conferences and / or written letters to newspapers and magazines on behalf of Treasure The Karoo Action Group and the South African Alternative Energy Association and  Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance.
  • I am also doing battery based system designs and consulting and I refer work to various contractors for doing installations.
  • Last year I turned 50. What a milestone it was. My business turned 20 years old last year and I have been married to the woman of my dreams for 17 wonderful, if somewhat turbulent, financially, years. But this is the life of an entrepreneur. 
Dawie Roodt in his book, "Tax, Lies and Red Tape", has this to say about entrepreneurs in South Africa: "Besides the taxman, the workforce has also been demanding its pound of flesh, and then some. In fact, South Africa's organised workforce has become so powerful and militant that it has been forcing entrepreneurs to pay employees more and more of the wealth they are trying to create - without offering them anything that resembles an equivalent rise in productivity. In addition, once an entrepreneur has hired a few workers, he or she cannot simply fire them again. Obviously entrepreneurs need workers to succeed in their effort to create wealth; good workers. But red tape from here to eternity prevents them from showing poor performers to the door. Small wonder then that there are so few entrepreneurs in South Africa; theirs is the most exploited occupation in the country.
But there are those of us who still believe in South Africa and are still here and still putting as much as we can in every day, paying all the taxes that are demanded of us, whilst at the same time still trying to make things better by offering electricity to the grid, or offering other services, which our government still ignores.

And so I wish everyone I know another amazingly interesting year. At a recent party, I said that life would be so dull if it was perfect. I look forward to making our world more perfect each day, together with so many amazing people in my life.

If you want to read more: here links to some other places I have written or published things on the 'net:

Here are my web sites and BLOGs:


Friday, January 12, 2018

A Citizen Led State of Emergency should immediately be declared in the Western Cape

I would like to declare "A Citizen Led State of Emergency" Immediately in Cape Town. Before the government declare the State of Emergency and take away all our rights. When the Egyptians ran out of water back in Joseph's time, they sold their land to the Pharaoh (King). Then they sold all their possessions. Then they sold themselves and became slaves. Citizens in the Western Cape must do everything they can to prevent themselves becoming slaves. We must remain the free people that Nelson Mandela and others dreamed of.

As soon as the Western Cape goes "Water Critical" Cape Town will have a "Nuclear Disaster", or a disaster similar to a nuclear meltdown in Cape Town. The Nuclear Disaster plan for Cape Town should immediately be activated. Disaster personnel from South Africa, and other countries with disaster capacity, like Israel, must immediately be activated to come and install desalination plants along the Seashore every 500 meters so that people can get water.

Just like people steal electricity, people will steal water and the water won't reach the 200 water stations. And the 200 water stations, if they ever become operational, will never operate. There will be anarchy as people at the front of the long line, who have queued for 10 hours get their 25 litre ration and start the arduous process of dragging it home or to their cars. People outside the gate will steal this water at gunpoint and then sell water back to people at R1000 per litre. And if you have ever carted a 20 kg bag around a station or airport, you know how difficult that is. Try a 25 kg round container.

This past week there was anarchy at Muizenberg station in Cape Town as commuters exited the train on one of our hottest days of the year. All the taps at the station and along the beach have been sealed. No one could get water. Fights broke out. People got hurt. A minor incident, but indicative of what will happen in an existential water crisis. Not only this, but as soon as the announcement happens that we have one month of supply, everyone will immediately fill all their water tanks, swimming pools, baths, buckets, etc, and we will run out of water in a week.

And then the party, eh, I mean war will start. Hence why the cabinet is organising State of Emergency Regulations. There will be no way for the City to collect rates, electricity, water levies, in a war zone, hence why people will start filling every place they have that will store water. They will never pay for it.

To solve the problem?

1) Immediately move all the unemployed people who are receiving grants back to their homelands. Keep paying them grants. Give them access to electricity and the internet, an easy thing to do with renewable energy and batteries and satellite communications. Want to know where they come from? See where they go on their summer holidays. They can still run their washing machines and they can connect to the internet and wi-fi and watch TV. And many of them have small holdings with rain tanks and food gardens. A tranquil lifestyle!

2) Any retirees living in shared accommodation should also be asked to move to their holiday houses and also asked to take in their friends as soon as possible. Anyone with a holiday home anywhere in South Africa in a water rich zone, should be asked to open their houses at a nominal fee so that people can move from Cape Town to these houses. This will be similar to the Second World War where the British Government asked people to move out of the Cities into the Countryside.

3) Any school children who are in hostels should immediately be relocated to other schools in South Africa outside the water scarce zone.

4) All desalination contracts to be signed with people who can pump 100 million litres of water per day into the Lower Steenbras Dam within 90 days of today. From there the water can be pumped into the City's water system. This includes the Israelis and Grahamtek, South Africa's very own Desalination Experts.

Even if the dams were full, the Western Cape would still be short of water.

You see, we are currently allowed to use 87 litres of water per person and we use 600 million litres of water per day. Before the crisis, we used 1.2 billion litres of water, so we have halved our consumption. And a well run city uses 400 litres of water per person per day, so even before the current drought, Western Capers were using 37.5% of the water allowance of a well run city. Hence why even two to three years ago, Cape Town was already in a dangerous drought. Retail Wheeling can be implemented to allow people to buy water from people who can supply water and the City can be paid for the customer and supplier to use their water network.

5) All cruise ships and other shipping that does not have to use Cape Town harbour must be directed to Durban and other ports. The same with Cape Town International Airport. All maintenance personnel must be moved to other airports, except emergency personal who should remain on hand.

6) The empty oil containers at Caltex Refinery must be cleaned and must be capable of storing clean potable water. Unused water from desalination that is created daily must be pumped into these containers.

7) All hotels must be told that they can only have 50% occupancy or less as from 1st March 2018.

8) All vegan food to immediately be tax free. Meat to have a 100% duty put on it. All Western Cape livestock to be moved to other provinces. An additional R5 billion government incentive to be created to ensure that this happens as quickly as possible. All neighbourhood gardeners to be incentivised to create food gardens wherever they can.

9) All water and other infrastructure done by private people to immediately be before tax and before VAT. This to be backdated to 1st January 2015. All businesses installing water and electricity infrastructure to immediately be given 200% tax allowances in the first month. ie, Pay R1 million for a system. Get R2 million tax credit immediately the system is commissioned.

10) All aquifer water to be thoroughly tested for all hormone, medical waste, and radiation pollution. Aquifers sound like a great source of water, but there is hormone infiltration (from meat production, etc), and there are nuclear radiation leaks from Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, for example Tritium in the water. No one knows how far away from Koeberg this problem extends.

We will survive this crisis.

We cannot rely on our government to do it for us anymore. We are resilient. We beat Apartheid. We will beat the current problem, the drought in our minds.

20 18 is the year that has Chai in it. Each letter in Hebrew has a numerical equivalent, which sometimes make words. 18 is Chai. Chai means life. 2 Life. 2018. To Life. God has given us a unique opportunity to work with God to save ourselves, if only we choose life, and health, and peace and healing. Choose life.

And remember some quotations: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead.

"Why are there grades in schools? Because there aren't any standards anymore." David Lipschitz

"Warnings from our ancient teachings: “Genesis 1, 28 says that we should ‘go forth and multiply, and replenish the earth.’ We cannot simply take and take, but must consider how we can put back. We are also told that the ‘sins of the fathers will be on the children to the forth generation’ (Deuteronomy 5, 9). Four generations are about 100 years. This sentence means that we should consider 100 years time in all our decision making." David Lipschitz

“No exceptional brain power is needed to construct a new science or to expand on an existing one. What is needed is just the courage to face inconsistencies and to avoid running away from them just because 'that's the way it was always done.'” Eliyahu M. Goldratt in The Goal, first published in 1984.

“He who does not believe in miracles is not a realist.” Anton Rupert's Personal Motto

“I believe that the time to go into a new business is when the genre is abysmally run by other people, and when I feel that Virgin can provide a significantly better customer experience.” Sir Richard Branson in Screw It, Let's Do It Again, 2007

“Small is Beautiful.” Ernst Fritz Schumacher

“The mythology of the fossil energy industry rests on well-worn experience and habits of thought. The inhabitants of the industrialised countries have had a century to grow accustomed to living in the centralized structures of the fossil energy system. … The Problem with centralization is that is has become an ideological conviction and was consequently applied to situations where it was actually counterproductive. … Putting energy generation in the hands of the people, would have no appreciable negative effects. Individual freedom and collective social responsibility for the future are not mutually exclusive, but rather go hand in hand. … People like the fossil fuel system, because it offers free home delivery. We must get rid of our fear of the small scale.” We have already taken ownership of a number of “small scale items”, eg cars, computers, phones, travel, shopping, etc." Dr Hermann Scheer, in The Solar Economy, first published in 1999! Dr Scheer introduced Feed In Tariffs into Germany in 1991. This has reduced PV prices by over 90% and made producing electricity affordable for the masses.

And this decentralisation mentality can be applied to water. And food. And transport.

2018 is finally the year of "the people". Many people who have dreamed that "a people" will have freedom, will finaly be vindicated. They will be proved right. By a bunch of people at the foot of Africa.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Cape Town Water Crisis: How to cover our dams

A new year, a new idea :

Imagine if we could cover all our dams?

So we can!!

We can put systems in our pools to make our pool water drinkable.

We can cover our pools. Our water bill dropped by more than half when we installed our pool cover in 2015. "Power Plastics pool covers reduce evaporation by more than 98%". From their website. I don't work for them.

And this can even be done at Newlands Swimming Pool and our other Municipal Pools.

1) If you have a pool cover, AND
2) If you invest in a system that makes your pool water drinkable, AND
3) If you sign an agreement with the City to allow them to take out whatever you put in from 1st January 2018 onwards ...

Then: You can fill your pool using potable water. And you can install your swimming pool water management systems before tax and before VAT.

If we fill our pools and keep them covered and clean, we can reduce our dam evaporation by 98%. Using Embedded Water.

Happy 20 18. Let's think differently.

PS: I'm sure there are people on this group who know:
1) how many pools there are in Cape Town.
2) how many litres of water there are in these pools.
3) what the evaporation is from the dams.
4) how much water can be saved, and what this system will cost.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Cape Town: the city that works for itself

My Letter in the Cape Times on 29th December 2015: This letter shows another reason why a "Water Levy" is misplaced:

"Ratepayers Ignored in City's Grand Centralisation Scheme"

I live in the City of Cape Town, so I will use the City of Cape Town as my example, but I believe this example to be applicable to Johannesburg and other parts of South Africa.

The City, which works for its corporate citizens, providing them with a "red tape to red carpet" special service that us mere mortals can only dream of, is implementing a massive growth strategy to increase square meters of office, conference, hotel and private living space in the Central Business District (CBD) and close to it. This makes the land in the CBD much more valuable, making billions for the property developers and hundreds of millions in additional rates annually for the city.

People are forced to travel into the city where in the rest of the word, cities are moving to decentralised "pod" offices as Shelley Childs wrote about in your newspaper recently.

At the same time, it has managed to change the signalling of the traffic lights near the harbour to such an extent that traffic now goes back many kilometers when the traffic should be free flowing.

This is also applicable in Claremont with its three traffic lights on the M3, which are completely out of phase, and in many cases after the third set of lights there is no traffic, whereas before the lights there is a long queue.

And this is applicable on Strand Street, where I can remember only a few years ago being able to drive the length of Strand Street with green lights all the way. Nowadays, invariably every light is red!

At the same time, the City has built its Integrated Rapid Transport (IRT) system, and in many cases the City has taken space from its citizens to build this transport system. Yellow lanes have been used for a third lane.

Many intersections that used to take two minutes to traverse now take upwards of six minutes to traverse because busses get priority, even if there are no busses when one gets to the intersections.

And then along these routes, the City has prevented the alternative bus and taxi services from operating, thus "forcing" people to choose; either a car or a bus.

So we have a special recipe that the City has developed:

1) Grow rates income as fast as possible in the CBD, even going so far as to ignore the Spacial Planning, Environment and Land Use Management Committee, its own planning body, and even riding roughshod over historical landmarks in its own interest of centralising everything.

2) Creating traffic mayhem by stopping proper traffic light signalling and taking one-third of the roadway for itself.

3) Creating its own special bus service, called the IRT.

4) Stopping alternative operators from using these routes.

5) Forcing people to choose between using their car or using the IRT.

6) And then finally, the nail in the coffin, adding e-tolls, which the IRT operators, owned by the city, won't need to pay. There will be other exceptions, for example mini-bus taxis and others, and 20 percent of the road users will pay 100 percent of the e-tolls.

The law-abiding citizen is being given a choice. Either use "our" bus to come into "our" city where there is work, or be forced to pay an exorbitant amount to use your car and "we" won't give you any alternatives. If the city wants me to get out of my car, then the very least it needs is competition along its IRT routes, for example the IRT, Golden Arrow and other bus services, minibus taxis, normal taxis, Uber taxis or anything else. Only with this choice will I be able to get out of my car.

And lastly, in every other city in the world e-tolls only work because there are alternatives. If South African cities wish to pursue their e-toll frenzy, then I suggest that the City builds a double-decker highway where the top deck pays an e-toll and the bottom deck is free. I believe e-tolls are illegal because the City is working for itself, even though I and many millions of others are paying high rates, high electricity, water, sewerage, and other costs, and I am being ignored whilst this City pursues its own grand centralisation scheme.

[Note on 29th December 2017: Note that I wrote about tolls, because the City was considering implementing them. We have been tolled in other ways, with high rates, water, electricity, sewerage, etc, increases.]

David Lipschitz.
Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance Exco Member, Milnerton.
[I was an Exco member two years ago. Resigned from the committee in 2016]

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas 2018

20 18.

18 is Chai in Hebrew. Life. 20 18 is the year that we choose to remain unconscious or we choose to become conscious. The year we choose to die or the year we choose to live.

20 is 2. One becomes Two, after conception. We are One with God. But there are Two of Us.

As we ponder God and Christmas, we consider our miraculous and precarious existence. Whilst we need to plan for 20 or 50 or 100 years time, we also need to plan for today, tomorrow and next week.

We have such a tremendous opportunity to fix our world. Our personal worlds. Our personal and family and community lives. To be saved.

Luckily in South Africa we live in a lawless society where everyone can do exactly as they wish. The laws are God's laws. They are the laws of respect and compassion and kindness and generosity and peace and wholeness and healing and love and being saved.

The government doesn't respect itself. It is ridden with corruption and crime against itself and its people.

It sees itself as absolute and everyone else as secondary. Well these secondary people can use the Constitution of South Africa, which is quoted by our government as being the world's best, to protect ourselves, our way of life, and our future.

You see, the time has come to listen to the National Development Plan (NDP), developed by a people of South Africa, protected by our Constitution.

The time has come to listen to the Constitution, developed by a people of South Africa.

"We, the people of South Africa Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity. The Republic of South Africa is one, sovereign, democratic state founded on the following values: (a) Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms. (b) Non-racialism and non-sexism. (c) Supremacy of the constitution."
We are a people. Each and every one of us is a people. We are each One. We are each Sovereign. And we Believe that can be One, Sovereign, People, and the Constitution provides us this right. If only we choose to Act.
From 1960 until 2017, the price of Photovoltaic electricity fell from $60 a watt to $0.50 per watt. A 99% drop in electricity price. Over that same time, governments and their utilities have put up electricity prices dramatically.

Look at the Green Renewable Energy Line Decreasing and the City of Cape Town Red Line Increasing.
At the same time desalination has dropped from $100's to $0.60 per kl. Whilst the peoples' water prices have skyrocketed. With an infinite increase from 2016 to 2017 in the first six kl of water given to the people of Cape Town. 6 kl used to be free. Now 6 kl is R31.20. And sewerage charges on top of this.

An example: A house of 4 using 87.5 litres per person per day, equating to 10.5 kl per month: Water price increase from R23.40 in 2010 to R118.42 now, a 500% increase in 7 years, whilst with inflation, our prices should be R30 per kl!!

Our government has told our business and farmers to use less than half the water they used two years ago, "before the drought." So our food prices will rocket even more than they have now, and there will be shortages, not only of food, but also water. And a shortage of water means a shortage of petrol and a shortage of electricity. And a shortage of brain power.

And yet, the 2011 World Cup report starts with "South Africa is a water scarce country." One would have expected the report to start with "What an amazing world cup".

Theewaterskloof was built whilst I was at school, 40 years ago. Because South Africa is a water scarce country. The "drought" hasn't even started yet. We are just low on water because we have allowed a population increase in Cape Town without an associated water increase.

All is not lost.

We know that we cannot depend on our government to fix our problem. All they want is for us to use less and less, and then they penalise us by an infinite increase in our water cost and then a levy to be added from February 2018. We are being disincentivised to save water at exactly the moment when people should be given every opportunity to get to that free water level.

A well run city needs water. The engineers who designed our cities depended on water to prevent disease, to prevent dis-ease. To allow for waterborne sewerage. To allow for crops. To allow for liquid refreshment. Rehydration. Oxygenation. Cleansing.

The engineers still exist. The scientists still exist. The NDP calls for "Active Citizens" to rally and to build the future. The future has arrived. The NDP calls for Communities to work together. Well I would like the people of Milnerton to work with the people of Joe Slovo & Phoenix to create an environment where we all benefit and where our cost of living is much less than it is today. I know many "Active Citizens" who collectively have a wealth of knowledge. We don't need to blame anymore. We don't need to sit back and say "the government" must do this or that. Collectively, we are the government. Let's behave like it!

In 20 18, will we take the opportunity that we have been given to have life? To have the miracle of life? To dramatically reduce our electricity cost, our water cost, our transport cost, our food cost, our housing cost, our clothing cost? We can do it. If only we believe.

Christmas gives us "The Christ". The Saviour. The opportunity for us to Save ourselves. By emulating The Divine.

God doesn't save us. He gives us the opportunity to be saved. If we work on ourselves. If we leave evil (live backwards), we get live. Life. If we leave unconscious. We get consciousness. If we leave apathy. We get self-actualisation.

The opportunity is here. Especially with Christmas starting the next phase of Creation.

We can grab it.


I pray that all of us have an incredible 18 חַי

The Chet חַ is the 8th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. 8 is infinity.  

God is the Infinite One.

8 is the musical octave. Let's make music together.

Yud י is the pointer, pointing us to a new future. The world is created by us every day. We can create the world the way we want it to be. We have this opportunity. We can do it. God has given us all the ingredients we need. And Jesus shows that we can work together to build an amazing future. With kindness, prayer, compassion, generosity.

If only we believe. If only we have faith. If only we want the best for each other.

Dream. Conceive. Believe. Achieve.

Joseph told Pharaoh (the King of Egypt) about the coming famine. Famine came because Egypt didn't have water. But Joseph used the seven years of plenty to put away stocks for the coming seven years of famine. And after the famine Pharaoh owned everything. Because the people gave up their lands for food. They gave up themselves for water. And became slaves.

We must not repeat the tragedies and plagues of the past. If we assume a "business as usual" approach, we are doomed. At we could just miss the moment when the peak of the mountain comes into view and God gives us the Wine and Bread we need to save ourselves.

Let us bake the most incredible bread together. And let's have a land flowing with an infinite amount of water. But let's not waste. Let's build. Ke nako. The time is right. The time is right for the people to make a difference. The time is now.