Nedbank slams SA drought crisis management

2017-09-20 13:57
The City of Cape Town's largest storage dam, the Theewaterskloof dam, was 21.3% full on Monday, an increase of 0.5% compared to the previous week. (Supplied)

The City of Cape Town's largest storage dam, the Theewaterskloof dam, was 21.3% full on Monday, an increase of 0.5% compared to the previous week. (Supplied)

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Cape Town - The water crisis management during the drought affecting the Western Cape has come under fire.

Nedbank has blamed political apathy for the mismanagement of the crisis, which it says has led to a decline in the province's key tourism industry.

"Climate change is undoubtedly having a real and significant impact, and the droughts we've experienced in recent years have been much more severe than usual," Mike Peo, head of Infrastructure, Energy and Telecommunications at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking, said in a statement.

"This is further complicated by massive water losses due to inadequate maintenance of ageing infrastructure, and poor management of water distribution networks."

- Water Crisis special report

The water crisis in the Western Cape did not come without warning.

"South Africa is going to feel the effects of climate change first through water resources. We have to manage that certainty of supply in new and different ways," hydrogeologist Christine Colvin, and senior manager of fresh water programmes at the WWF SA, told News24 in 2013.

READ: Western Cape R295m 'day zero' water plan kicks in

Tourism hit

"In South Africa, water demand is expected to rise by 52% within the next 30 years, while the supply of water is sharply declining. If current trends of leakage from aged and poorly maintained municipal infrastructure and the loss of wetlands persist, this growth in demand will intensify competition for water resources across all sectors of the economy," said Brand South Africa on the SA info website, News24 reported in 2013.

In July 2012, the Department of Water Affairs noted the impending water crisis in its National Water Summary Draft document.

"It must be noted that, as at 2012, South Africa has had 16 consecutive years of above average rainfall in the majority of summer rainfall areas and in these areas the last major drought was more than two decades ago. This trend is unlikely to continue."


Historical dam levels in Cape Town. (City of Cape Town)

Peo also highlighted the importance of the tourism industry to the local economy and the impact of the drought on the sector.

"Tourism in the Western Cape, one of the country's key tourism hubs, is being particularly hard hit," said Peo.

According to Statistics SA, direct tourism expenditure in 2013 contributed R103bn to gross domestic product for SA, but total tourism spend was calculated at R218.9bn.

News24 sister publication Fin24 recently reported that the total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was R402bn in 2016 (9.3% of GDP) and is expected to grow by 2.5% to R412.2bn (9.4% of GDP) in 2017, according to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

READ: National Disaster Management Centre grants Cape Town R20.8m for drought relief

In his State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma highlighted the need to mitigate the high water losses in municipalities.

"In an effort to curb high water losses, which in some municipalities far exceed the national average, which is currently at 37%; about 10 000 unemployed youth are being trained as plumbers, artisans and water agents. More will be recruited this year to reach the total of 15 000," Zuma said.

Peo said that while the bank is engaging with stakeholders in terms of supplying funding for technical solutions to the crisis, the problem is complex because of the fragmented nature of the ownership structure and range of the water networks.

He advised that private sector involvement in the supply of water was key to solving the crisis, in partnership with the government.

Public private partnerships

SABMiller has worked with department of science and technology through the South African Water Futures partnership in a collaboration that aims to identify and respond to water risks faced by hops growers in the Gouritz watershed.

However, the World Resources Institute highlighted "low participation from the private sector in the discussion around corporate water stewardship".

"And while national government recognises that there is a serious problem with water supply, engagement with the private sector is slow and uncoordinated, especially given the severity of the issue," said Peo.

In the energy sector, public private partnerships (PPPs) are able to meet key demand challenges, and Peo said that this model could be viable for the water sector.

"In South Africa, we have a leadership and strategy vacuum that has to be addressed in order to form PPPs and to find sustainable, long-term solutions to South Africa's deepening water supply challenges. And the issue couldn't be more pressing."

 

 

 

STORAGE

 

 

 

 

Major Dams in Cape Town

Capacity

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Ml

18 September 2017

Previous week

2016

2015

2014

2013

Berg river

130 010

62.6

61.1

71.0

89.5

100.1

101.4

Steenbras lower

33 517

47.8

46.7

68.9

89.9

96.5

100.2

Steenbras upper

31 767

99.9

102.3

95.6

95.9

101.0

101.2

Theewaterskloof

480 188

28.8

28.7

53.2

76.2

100.4

104.9

Voëlvlei

164 095

26.7

26.4

68.0

49.5

100.5

102.4

Wemmershoek

58 644

44.0

43.3

70.4

73.0

98.6

100.0

Total stored

898 221

337 151

333 921

554 048

666 848

899 507

928 176

% Storage

 

37.5

37.2

61.7

74.2

100.1

103.3

 

Read more on:    nedbank  |  cape town  |  drought  |  water crisis  |  water

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