The first Civil Talk segment of the year took place on 4 April 2018 at SAICE House in Midrand. The event was well attended and centred on disaster management in South Africa and possible ideas for avoiding day zero.
The panel of experts featured Professor Mike Muller PrEng (South Africa), CEng (UK), FSAICE, SFWISA. Prof. Muller is a former Director-General of South Africa’s Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (1997-2005) and Commissioner of South Africa’s National Planning Commission (2010-2015). He advises many organisations locally and internationally on water and development issues and is currently involved in regional energy policy and strategy issues. His research interests include water governance at different levels of government to support sustainable and resilient development. Prof. Muller was accompanied by leading water management specialist and Civil Engineer, Dr Ronnie McKenzie. He has been instrumental in the team that developed the Water Resource Models used by the South African government for the planning and operation of the bulk water resource infrastructure.
The discussion entitled Disaster management within South Africa: How to avoid Day Zero was facilitated by SAICE’s Water Division committee representative, Helgard Muller. The two-hour event knocked off with Prof. Mike Muller who outlined the current landscape of Water Management in South Africa as well as the country’s readiness and resilience to deal with water shortages and other resource management related problems. Thereafter, Dr Ronnie McKenzie from the UK shared insight into the water management system models South Africa (SA) has in place, a background into their origins as well as how they’re put together. According to Dr McKenzie, SA has one of the world’s most powerful water resource management system. It was developed with input from models used in the UK and the USA.
The session ended with a Question and Answer session where members of the audience posed pertinent questions, challenged the panellists on various aspects of the discussion, including proposed ideas and/or solutions for moving forward.