Save every droplet

2015-11-04 12:38

WHEN the supply of water deteriorates to such an extent that dams run dry or reach critical lows, it becomes a cause for concern.

In the past, sectors such as agriculture were the most affected. But recently water shortage affects everyone on a large scale.

Load shedding is a term South Africans from all spheres have come to learn, and to be quite honest, it has become a household name. Water shedding on the other hand is still something of a myth. After the recent interruptions in the water supply in Johannesburg, however, it has become a reality.

The drought in KwaZulu-Natal and in the Free State might be game-changers when it comes to this term.

Drought is an attribution and is an effect of climate change that is described as the natural cycle through which the earth and its atmosphere are accommodating the change in the amount of energy received from the sun. Changes in temperature also influence the rainfall, but the biosphere is able to adapt to a changing climate if these changes take place over centuries.

Drought causes loss of crops due to the supply of water not being enough for the available crop. This undoubtedly leads to the rise in food prices. The Department of Water and Sanitation has a responsibility to supply water first for human consumption and secondly to farms and industries.

There have recently been talks about desalinisation of sea water. It could be a long time before this idea becomes a reality as it will require planning, infrastructure and execution.

The truth is that drought is a reality and the sooner people digest this, the sooner their lifestyle changes could influence the water supply positively. Everyone needs to start thinking about water as the precious resource it is and start using it in a manner that is befitting of a “precious” resource.

Using a cup while brushing teeth, using a bucket instead of a hose pipe and fixing your taps from leaks, are just a few ways to participate in water saving. It could save the country thousands of litres of water per day. Gone are the days when one believed that water is from heaven and is thus in abundance and can therefore be used as one sees fit.

If a province is to be declared a drought disaster area, it means the problem is serious and that it is knocking at the front door.

Free State residents, and the rest of the country, should take the matter seriously because drought is not only restricted to certain provinces. We could soon find the country as a whole declared a drought disaster area. South Africa already ranks as the 30th driest country in the world with an average rainfall of about 40% less than the world’s average rainfall. Our average annual rainfall is less than 500 mm, while that of the world sits at about 850 mm.

The water restrictions implemented recently in Mangaung, if adhered to, should offer a measure of relief for residents.

Change starts with an individual and can steadily escalate in the country as a whole. We are all responsible for saving this scarce resource drop by drop. Failure to do so will certainly lead to catastrophe.

When you open the tap, think of every drop that might get lost and imagine what it would be like if the water flow suddenly stops and you see the very last drop escape through the drain.
Thoabala is the Head of Communications for the Department of Water and Sanitation in the Free State Region.

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