Saving water to mitigate drought impact

2015-11-11 06:01

LARGE parts of KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces are facing water restrictions because of the drought that has hit since the beginning of 2015.

Major rivers, such as Uthukela and Mfolozi in the northern parts of the province, have run dry. Cattle are dying due to dehydration and crop yields are reducing because of dry weather conditions. This has seen some municipalities digging the dry streams to get more water and efforts to get tanker water to some affected areas are under way. There are also programmes to provide JoJo tanks to some communities. These are all efforts to mitigate the impact of the drought that is threatening to engulf not only KZN, but also the rest of the country.

This calls for serious reflection among all of us as South African citizens. We have to rethink what role we can play to meet government halfway in these efforts. Some of the big interventions that government is promoting are fighting water leaks to reduce non-revenue water.

Water leaks account for nearly 36% of the nation’s unaccounted for water and costs the country about

R7 billion annually. Public awareness campaigns are also under way to sensitise people about the problem of illegal connections, which adversely affect how much water is available in a particular locality.

A dripping tap or leaking toilet can, on average, waste up to 30 litres of water an hour. This, multiplied over thousands of leaking pipes and taps across South Africa, cascades into an avalanche of lost water.

To conserve this life-giving resource, President Jacob Zuma recently launched the War on Leaks project to address water loss from leaks. It calls on South Africans to fix leaking taps, toilets and pipes in their homes and communities.

While South Africa has sufficient water resources to meet its current needs, our future requirements can only be secured through effective and timeous smart water-management options. South Africa is a water-scarce country and unless we take drastic measures to preserve and save water today, there will be a serious water challenge that is worsened by the effects of global warming and climate change.

The drought in KwaZulu-Natal is a reminder that our water resources are not infinite. Every drop is precious and we all have a part to play in protecting it.

We can therefore no longer blindly assume that taps will never run dry, or that water will flow perpetually. The clock is ticking and we must find ways to ensure that our water is used sustainably and shared equitably.

The War on Leaks project is a smart and innovative way to conserve water and raise awareness about water conservation. We must co-operate with our local water service authorities and heed the call to use water wisely.

We must also accept the water restrictions with an understanding that they are implemented to ensure an equitable supply for all in the worst affected areas.

The economic benefits to saving water are less wastefulness, which will mean more water to meet demands. This in turn saves the country from having to build new infrastructure to store, treat and prepare water.

- Supplied.

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