On the 4th of September, Professor Tally Palmer presented the Jack Skead Memorial Lecture to the Makhanda Wildlife Society on water security and your experience of it. She drew attention to the difference between first-order water security which is the actual biophysical lack of water, and second-order water security, which is when there are human factors that interfere with people getting the water that is actually there. She shared how in Makhada we have both of these - so, apart from being in a really serious drought, we are also in what is probably a drying as a result of climate change. She showed rainfall data and pointed out that Settlers Dam is standing empty which is first-order water scarcity. But on the other side of town, we have water from the Orange River Interbasin Transfer Scheme which goes down to Glen Melville Dam. There the difficulties of getting that water into the town is related to pump size pump, reliability water treatment capacity and adequate management. Here, water treatment capacity issues, leaks, the whole difficult process of upgrading the system and making more efficient water supply to people causes second-order scarcity. The whole audience really connected with the fact that they were irritated and frustrated about that this second-order water scarcity.
Tally went through some of the different feedback loops that indicate exactly how hard it is to upgrade to reduce second-order scarcity. She finally paid tribute to Helen Holleman who is actually out there cleaning our rivers and pointed out that Makhanda has a Water Forum where absolutely everybody can get involved in addressing second-order water scarcity.