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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Western Cape Drought - a drought in our minds reflected in our environment - David Lipschitz's 2018 new year message

Dear all

Please note that this article is written entirely in my private capacity as a people. Representing myself as a sovereign. Not representing anyone other than myself.

Let me just say that I still believe that we have the time to do something about the crisis, before Cape Town runs out of water. Let me also say that the Private Sector needs to be 100% involved in the solutions and their implementations.

We are currently at Level 5 and Level 6 starts in January 2018: 87.5 litres per person and Agriculture reduced by 60% compared with pre-drought and business 45%.

This week, I spent three days at the 8th International Young Water Professionals Conference where 320 people up to the age of 35 spent their time looking at the way they do things in 52 different countries. There were also some oldies, like me, 53, luckily 35 backwards, and a few others, lecturers, professors, book writers, ministers, members of government. And although there was a session around Drought and Cities in Water Crisis, Cape Town didn't get more than a passing reference. Yes we have a drought. Yes we know that Day Zero is next year, actually in May next year. Yes, Cape Town might be the world's first major city to run out of water. Yes, if that happens, it might become impossible to live here. Yes, there might be a lot of disease and violence. But no, we cannot have a special session devoted to Cape Town, where 320 people with new worldwide experience can provide their inputs to solving our water crisis. In fact I became persona non grata with the conference organisers because I asked more than once for Cape Town to be pushed up the agenda. I was told that it is an international conference with an international agenda, which I appreciated, more than I can say. I just wanted an hour for Cape Town, amongst the approximately 70 hours of conference sessions.

Although conferences like this are planned years in advance, I do not believe in coincidences. And I do not believe in luck. I believe in Miracles. God helped these conference organisations and young citizens of the world come to Cape Town, where they missed a unique opportunity to provide inputs and solutions and maybe even stick around for six months to solve our water crisis. If I was in government I would have offered every one of them a job for the next year and said, "please help us solve our crisis".

You see, amongst these people were the current geniuses and future geniuses of the world's water environment. And R20 million per month salaries is tiny money compared with the R15 million per day that the City earns from selling water. Included in these people, many of whom are South Africans, are water finders, water collectors, water cleaners, water testers, water engineers, sewerage experts, people studying all aspects of water and sewerage management and diseases and anthropologies related to water. And I'm sure that Capetonians would have opened their hearts and homes to these people and offered them free food and accommodation for "their year off", their "gap year".

And it strikes me as mad that the Cape Town drought didn't have a more centre stage. I know that I will be attacked for saying this. And I care more for my fellow citizens than for the organising committee. I think that a City running out of water is an event that is so far from the minds of these water engineers and scientists that even they don't believe it. Whilst only 200,000 Capetonians are taking the situation seriously and making their own water. The rest are "paying up" and praying that the government will come to the rescue.

And even the 2011 report after the World Cup starts with "South Africa is a water scarce region". And not with "We play amazing soccer". So we know where we stand, officially and from a policy point of view, but as we heard at the conference, there is an amazing distance between policy and implementation. Our government says we have the best policy in the world. The best law. Perhaps true. But poorly implemented. Poorly managed. And never judged.

And coincidentally (note that I don't believe in coincidences) there is a rumour that the South African Cabinet is drawing up State of Emergency Regulations. I am not surprised. If four million Cape Town people run out of water some time in the next five months, then Cape Town will be a war zone. And even if the City invokes Level 7 restrictions and says "no agricultural water and no business water", we will still have a very bad time, with everyone being out of work in a very short amount of time, and all restaurants closing and no cappuccino's being available! And all this on a globe which has an abundance of everything, which the enclosure movement have taken for themselves. Ok, I get that. But in the past these enclosures have ensured that their customers, and taxpayers, still have food and water and clothing. But lately the enclosure movement in South Africa is ensuring that only the elite have everything. And the reason? The elite were trained in Communist Russia. And whilst Russia is not Communist anymore, many South African leaders are.

But all is not lost. Decentralisation and the ability of the private citizen to look after themselves is happening at a more and more rapid rate. You see, for the first time in history private citizens can make their own energy and they can make it faster and cheaper than they can buy it. Private citizens can make electricity and water and food and clothing and money cheaper than they can buy it from any national or international source.

There is a drought in the minds of the ordinary citizen. Until 100 years ago, which is recent in the greater scheme of things, private people looked after themselves. We created our own energy. We collected or stored rainwater. We built dams. We dealt with our sewerage. We made our own heat. We cooled ourselves. We lived in intentional communities where we had friendly societies that looked after us when we got sick, or when we couldn't work, or even when we moved cities, if we needed letters of recommendation, in a time before the internet, so that a new employer "knew" who we were. And friendly societies were created by the world's poor, not by the world's rich. And they were run and maintained and paid for by the "poor".

Who is poor, one might ask? In my mind, a poor person is someone not connected to the grids. The electricity grid. The water grid. The food grid. The transport grid. The tax grid. A self-sufficient person might be considered to be poor. But a poor person is not destitute. And we should not be moving people from being poor to being destitute in the interests of votes.

We had prosecution associations so that we could attack people who stole from us or who hurt us.

We looked after ourselves.

And if we couldn't look after ourselves, then people looked after us. We think back to the "good old days". And some people say those days were bad. If you were a serf living on someone's land, and that someone provided you with food, clothing, a place to live and in return you had to work for them, then that was reasonably good. You did an honest day's work for hopefully an honest day's wage. And if you didn't get paid properly, at least you knew that you had food, clothing and a roof over your head. And of course, water.

(I remember a company I worked for many years ago. It paid people a low wage. But it had more than 10 bonus systems. An attendance bonus for coming to work on time. A production bonus for producing what was required. A night shift bonus for working the night shift. A Christmas bonus, just because it was Christmas. A special bonus if the company could pay the employee's rent each month. An automatic 13th Cheque. A long term bonus, for being at the company for more than four years. Some who had been with the company for 12 years, got a 14th Cheque. A taxi to bring people to work and take them home. Anyone with more than four years experience earned substantially more than the minimum wage. Then the unions arrived, said that the company paid less than their minimum wage, unionised the place, and within 10 years everyone became the same. The bonuses were gone. The incentive to do quality work was gone. The business closed. 150 people were out of work. And their families destitute, in many cases. We cannot look at one variable in isolation. We need to consider the big picture. Just like we cannot look at water income and say it is falling and we need a levy. We need to look at the big picture. And if we tell people to use 25 litres of water a day and we have cholera, then what is the point? We have looked at a single variable and we have said "everything is like that." Note that I am not against unions. Unions got us to an 8 hour day from a 16 hour day. Unions got us a 5 day week instead of a 6 day week. Unions got women the same rights as men. I am just very against the minimum wage, when the big picture is not being considered.)

And then governments came along and over a period of only a few decades, they ruined us. They spoiled us. They polluted our minds, just as pollution in the atmosphere is polluting our air. The pollution in the environment is a direct reflection of the pollution in our minds and bodies. The corruption in our nation is a direct reflection of how dogma has changed the way we think; and we think "this is the way we have always done it" because rulers rewrite history to suit their own purposes, but the internet and global sharing ensures that this cannot happen anymore.

In just a few decades governments created utilities that have allowed everyone to have a hot shower or wash in hot water in the morning. In the past only sovereigns (usually kings and queens) and the super rich had this luxury. Hundreds of people had to plant forests, collect wood, make fires, collect and store water, heat it, pipe it, and then it came out of a pipe for the sovereign to bathe. And then this sovereign had a water closet where xe could deposit xis waste and the waste was magically taken away to a sewerage plant.

People are scared of robots, but there are already so many jobs replaced by "robots" called power stations and lakes and infrastructure, that we really don't need to worry about robots. Robots already make cars and much of the consumer durables we use. Robots print books. Robots mine in mines. Robots chew rock and spit out gold.

So we don't need to worry about robots. We need to worry about our inability to think in a different way so that robots can never keep up with us.

Governments spoiled us by taking away our need to look after ourselves. After all, for the past few decades we just opened a tap and cheap and abundant water came out. Or we turned on a switch and cheap and abundant electricity came out. Or we went to a petrol station and filled up with cheap and abundant fuel that got us wherever we wanted to go. But that has ended. Decentralisation and our ability to do it ourselves has made it possible for us to enclose ourselves in our communities with our own cheap and abundant resources, where we don't have to get up at 3am to make hot water for our shower or shave because we have electricity and hot water, made in the sun, the previous day.

The South African Constitution's Section 27(1)(b) states that everyone has the right of access to sufficient water. And it must be clean and drinkable and healthy to wash in and cook with. And it must be disposed of in a healthy environment of water borne sewerage.

And then the Water Services Act 108 of 1997 took the joint responsibility of collecting and managing and distributing water between citizens and their government, away from citizens and gave it entirely to government.

And South Africa's Third Economic and Social Rights report, published by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in 2001, defines what "sufficient water means". 25 litres per person per day. And it says that it should be available within 200 meters of where someone lives. And it says that 25 litres is a minimum. Because a citizen has the right to be able to drink, wash and prepare food, with water, on a daily basis. And a citizen has a right to sanitation.

How can 200 central water collection points be created in the City of Cape Town next year be done so that they are within 200 metres of every citizen? And how will the average citizen be able to move the 25 litres that they are allowed to collect to their houses? And I'm talking about fit people. It is bad enough having to lug a 20kg bag around in an airport or a train or bus station. Imagine millions of people carrying 25 litre containers of water home from central collection points. People will simply steal the water from water carriers who have already collected their water. The government really hasn't thought this through. And whilst they are spending R40 per kl for water which they will only have for two years (because "the drought will be over in two years!"), they are missing out on the opportunity of spending R7.50 per kl for water they will have for twenty years. Cape Town needs 1.2 billion litres of water per day from desalination, regardless of whether our dams are full. In fact, at the end of winter, our dams should be full, our aquifers should be full, our pools should be full and clean, and a law should be passed that it is illegal to have salt and chlorine pools and that every pool should be a drinking water source to be used in emergencies. And swimming in oxygenated water is much better than swimming in chlorinated water, and anyone who has read anything about cancer knows that oxygen is a cure for cancer and many other diseases (taking other behaviour changes into account).

And all these documents are set in the context of international standards. But well run cities provide 400 litres of water for their citizens per day. And Cape Town? 87.5 litres. And then we wonder why we are in a drought. A drought where our economy is failing. Where we don't have enough food and water and electricity. Where people (rich and poor) take longer and longer to get to work, because the robots that show red, green and amber lights do not work anymore. They used to be controlled by a sophisticated program, but that was stopped in the interest of cost cutting. But actually the time wasted, the associated stress, the associated increase in petrol consumption and oil and pharmaceutical imports, actually so far outweigh the cities cost saving measures, that it is laughable that we even have people who think this way.

Even in our city we are told that we need a water levy? Why? Because water income is down? Why? Because we have been told to use 10.5 kl per month when in fact we were happy to pay for 40 kl per month, knowing that although we were paying a lot for our water, 10 other families get "free" water because of our water usage. And yet, whilst the City's water revenue is decreasing, their rates revenue has multiplied many times. Because of building; everywhere. Offices being converted into hotels and flats. New Conference Centres. Bigger airports. More suburbs. More townships. Higher home valuations. Higher cents in the Rand charges for rates. And amazingly all this without increasing water and electricity provision. And instead of the new suburbs being told "be self sufficient", the citizen who has lived in Cape Town for decades and who has paid for his infrastructure over and over again, is now told that there will be a levy because he isn't using enough water, because he cannot buy the water that he wants and needs.
And worse than this, in the 1960's architects were told that they could design buildings that use as much electricity as you need. Cheaply and Abundantly. Our city planners and designers, for decades, have designed our water and electricity and other systems to be massively wasteful, in the interest of making more money for themselves. And now they have made it our fault. And we have to pay a levy for their mistakes.
On a side note, in another mis-design, I just finished replacing all my amalgam fillings with white fillings. I started this process in February this year and just completed it today. Amalgam fillings contain mercury, silver, tin, copper. And who wants mercury in their body? I have also been doing a heavy metal detox for the past year and also colon irrigations and I recently did a liver and gall bladder detox. Note that historically amalgams might have been a good idea, but we don't need them anymore. And the same with coal and nuclear power. Historically we might have needed them, but today they are dinosaurs, part of the fossilised fuel industry.
Government has the responsibility to provide its citizens with safe water that is safe to wash in, cook with, clean with, and where the government also has the responsibility to take this water away in a safe sewerage system, and deal with it in an environmentally friendly way.

And citizens have the right to expect this from their government. It is in our Constitution. In our law. In our SAHRC documents.

And I as a citizen have the right to buy as much water as I want! Not the minimum and lowest common denominator of what I "need". If I only have 25 litres per day, I will die. Why? Because I live in a big city. And I need the safety and security of safe drinking, washing and cooking water and I need to know that my sewers and stormwater systems are working properly so that I don't get cholera, dysentery and other lack-of-water-based-diseases.

And I learnt at the conference that one should not store water from a hot water source for more than one day, and I know that I have been doing this in my house, where I now shower once or twice a week and only when the water for flushing the toilet runs out.

An official from our water ministry said that South Africans use on average 240 litres of water a day and that that the worldwide average is 170 litres of water a day and that 240 litres of water a day is too high!

This "fact" is misleading.

Two years ago, the average water use in Cape Town was 150 litres per person per day. Before the drought! And this 150 litres per person per day is about 1/3rd of the water use in a well run city. And Capetonians have halved their water consumption in the past two years, which is commendable and now we use 1/6th of the water of a well run city. But will the city survive if we have too much "grey" and "black" water in it? I know my toilet's cistern water already smells. And as mentioned, storing water that came from a hot source is actually a bad idea! And if you want to flame me, go ahead, but remember that you live in a big city and living in a big city is not the same as living on the land. We need water in our cities. Perhaps this is unfortunate. And perhaps one day we will be able to drink dew. But right now, our cities have been designed to use water to bring water to us, to keep fresh and to take sewerage away from us.

But at the same time as this, our government has condemned its agriculture and business communities and told them to reduce their water consumption. Agriculture by 60% compared with pre-drought and business 45%. Government has effectively told business to close!

In our race to the bottom and making everyone the same and equal in South Africa, the South African government (national and local) have chosen to do this based on the lowest common denominator based on ill defined "human needs" and world wide benchmarks that make them look good, rather than looking at well run cities and countries, and then seeing what they are doing and providing that as a benchmark.

And our government will achieve its objective. Soon the South African citizen will not have access to potable water. And that will make us all the same! We will all be the same as someone who has to walk miles to get water from a river. Except for one thing that has been forgotten. The rural person can get the water. The city dweller who relies on her government to provide the water will be dead. It will be impossible for her to get her "allocation" of water.

And four million people without water is a war zone.

South Africa's "poor" are already making illegal connections to the electrical system.

How long before they start making illegal connections to the water system? How long before the average homeowner, who doesn't have enough water, simply bypasses their meter and consumes and stores as much water as they can? Especially with thousands of new water meters being installed daily, that are faulty. Day Zero, currently the 20th May 2018, could actually happen in February 2018, if people decide to simply bypass the water measurement and payment systems. In which case the City has no income. And Cape Town has no water.

As it is, people have already been advised to stock up on water filters, because of the "coming shortages".

The National Development Plan makes 1/3rd of the responsibility for economic progression and growth the responsibility of Active Citizens. And this active citizen has offered many things to our government. 100 million litres of water per day pumped into the lower Steenbras dam at an affordable price. Electricity at night and at peak time, and free electricity during the day. Taking myself completely off the grid at a moment's notice at any time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

I have made suggestions that people can "wheel" electricity across our electricity grid. And now I have started talking about water wheeling, where a buyer can offer to buy water from a supplier. Let's suppose I pumped 100 million litres of water a day into the Cape Town Water network. That is 100,000 kilolitres (kl) of water per day. And let's say I had customers in Cape Town who had ordered water from me. I could sell them water at R25 per kl, pay the City R5 per kl to "wheel" the water in their water grid (which I, and many other citizens have paid for over and over again) and have money to run my system, and enough to make a profit and supply free water to those destitute (not "indigent" as the city calls them) people who can't afford to pay.

So how has this government done its job?

It has given everyone electricity by closing the textiles industry, most of the smelters, and by telling its worldwide investment community to go elsewhere by bringing us to "junk" status. By doing this it has dramatically increased our cost of borrowing and our inability to pay our creditors. And when this happens, our creditors own us and tell us that we must buy Nuclear Power Stations and other things we don't need. And we can pay for this Nuclear Power by selling the gas in the Karoo, which our creditors need, and for which we will pay dearly, with fracking, with ill health, with a much worse water crisis and with untold additional pollution and chemicals in our groundwater.

And all the government's additional electrical connections were done without completing Medupi and Kusile power stations, which should both have long been complete and powering two million jobs and another 300 billion Rand for the fiscus.

It has given everyone water, without building new dams or providing new infrastructure. I have been in the "infrastructure business" for 10 years. Watching how our infrastructure is deteriorating, going to conferences where people have told us the huge maintenance backlog (R100 billion for Eskom alone a few years ago) that Eskom and other State Owned Enterprises have. And that almost nothing is being done about it. For a decade, I have listened to esteemed professionals like Anthony Turton telling us about the state of our water resources. And the government hasn't listened.

Since 1994, the South African governments have increased unemployment from 8 million (which was also unacceptably high!!) to 16 million people, in 2017. This might not be entirely accurate as this is based on 20% unemployment in 1994 becoming 30% unemployment in 2017. But I cannot find any reference to the number of people between 18 and 65 who are willing to work, but cannot find jobs. And I am unsure what "willing to work" means. Who really wants to work?

Our government says that it is an offence to use more water than you are allowed. Well
in terms of the South African constitution, it an an offence for government not to provide the water we need and want.
Taxpayers and water and electricity taxpayers are happy to pay more for their water and electricity and food, than they need to, because they know that "redistribution" is required. But they are only happy to pay this if they can actually get their water and electricity. And if they can't they will go elsewhere. And of-course "rents" should be low or non-existent. A client or supplier having to pay someone in a different company or a government department to do their job is a Communist type activity. It existed in the former Communist Countries. And it exists in South Africa.

And paying a levy in Cape Town is no guarantee that Capetonians will have water. A normal company has to invest and borrow and use investors to grow. So should the City of Cape Town. I will pay more for water if I can get it. I will not pay a levy just to have access to water, just as I will not pay a service fee for a connection to the electricity grid. I have already paid over and over for the infrastructure. I do not want to pay this again. And I don't want to pay for services that I won't use. As I have already said, I was happy to pay R1000 a month for 40 kl in summer when the city had water. Maybe you think this was reckless, but back then, the cost to the City was R1 per kl and the city had R960 of income from my water usage for destitute people!

The time has come where the Active Citizens of Milnerton can provide their own electricity and water and sewerage and food needs cheaper and more abundantly than they do now, and our neighbours in Joe Slovo and Phoenix can have free water and electricity and food, and the Milnerton Active Citizen's water and food and electricity bill will be lower than it is now!! And we will not ever run out of water and electricity and food. A community can cross subsidise its neighbour in the interest of health and security. It doesn't need a government for this.

My intentions (not in any order, mostly all happening at the same time):
  1. learn how to make the water under my house drinkable
  2. learn how to make my swimming pool into a drinking water reservoir
  3. create an electrical system to sustain my needs
  4. create a sewerage system so that I don't need to rely on government to take my sewerage away, bearing in mind that there won't be water to carry it
  5. create food gardens and spouting systems
  6. share and open-source all this knowledge
  7. share with my neighbours
  8. help someone start a class action against our local and national governments to remind them about the Constitution and the other laws they have enacted to protect us. One thing most people think is that the government will obey the Constitution. As we have seen, this is not the case. The people are protected by the Constitution, only if the people take those contravening the Constitution to the Constitutional Court. And once the ConCourt makes a decision, that decision is binding on everyone who is contravening that particular provision, because a lower court can use the ConCourt's findings as a basis for their rulings
  9. Rename Milnerton, Mandelaton, in honour of a saint, who saw a Rainbow Nation, for South Africa.
Why am I doing this?
  1. I want to live to a ripe old age? Why? That is a very long story that goes back many lifetimes and I can share it if you like.
  2. I am a sharer and a messenger. I bring hope and abundance. I am a trust-generator. I am the Generator at My Power Station. And I want to show the average Active Citizen that we can take responsibility for ourselves and retire soon, rather than in 40 years time. I can also write about my retirement paradigm if you like.
Thanks for reading. Let's make a difference.

Love and Regards,

PS and NB: I have written this on Friday 15th December 2017. Much of it is from memory. E&OE. Without Prejudice. © David Lipschitz, 2017

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