What is the annual non-financial census of municipalities telling us?

Very few of us may be aware that Stats SA conducts an annual non-financial census of municipalities. But what is this and what information becomes available through this census?

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Free hot water from the earth – geothermal energy in Iceland

Last month I promised a bit more on the topic of the massive geothermal potential and resultant use of such energy in Iceland (geo= earth and thermos=heat in Greek).

Iceland lies astride one of the earth’s major fault lines, the Mid-Atlantic ridge which is the boundary between the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. Iceland is situated in a part of this ridge where deep mantle material (magma) wells up and creates a hot spot of unusually great volcanic productivity with at least 25 active volcanoes and where an eruption of any one of these can occur on average every four years! In this active volcanic zone there are also at least 20 ‘high temperature’ areas containing steam fields with underground temperatures reaching 250°C just 1km below the surface. In addition, the adjacent areas flanking these hot spots have hundreds of the so-called ‘low-temperature’ zones with temperatures of ‘only’ 150˚C.

Read more: Free hot water from the earth – geothermal energy in Iceland

Taking a shower in Iceland

A nasty surprise awaited me when taking a shower in the communal bathroom at a budget guesthouse in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. The water was hot indeed but the steam came with a bad smell- the typical H2S or characteristic foul odour of a rotten egg! Then you recall that this water is from a geothermal supply and warmed deep inside Mother Earth and you are saving both electricity and the planet and suddenly you feel much better about the shower with the hydrogen sulphide smell.

Read more: Taking a shower in Iceland

Water services regulation

If the main purpose of a regulator is to act in the public interest and ensure that the consumer – the poor, and the business sector – enjoy good services and safe water, then the water services regulator shall never be influenced by political priorities which could be to the detriment of public interest.

Last month I closed my column with a quote from a conference that was held in Johannesburg in 2005 with the topic: ‘Poverty reduction through improved regulation’, and one of the conclusions drawn from that conference was that; “There is indeed a strong case for effective pro-poor regulation so as to ensure that public service providers such as municipalities do their rightful job.”

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The need for water services regulation

Recently I had the privilege to address a group of water professionals and officials in Namibia as their parliament passed a new water law late last year - their very first water law since independence two decades ago (up to now Namibia was still using the old South African Water Act of 1956).

The discussions at this workshop took us back to debate basics such as: why regulate water services, and what entity is a so-called water regulator and therefore I decided to discuss these basics here as well.

Read more: The need for water services regulation

Grey water and stormwater -why are these two included in the National Standards?

Last month we discussed some of the driving principles behind the Compulsory National Standards for water services and this month I want to focus on three of these regulations that directly affect the plumbing industry.

Read more: Grey water and stormwater -why are these two included in the National Standards?

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