News24

SA facing a water crisis - Molewa

2012-02-28 14:54

Cape Town - South Africa could face a "near crisis situation" with its water supply within the next decade if urgent steps are not taken, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on Tuesday.

"It's quite worrying," she told Sapa, speaking at the end of a media briefing in Cape Town that outlined government's plans to spend billions on infrastructure, including water infrastructure, across the country. Experts warn that increasing demand for water is set to place severe strain on the country's ability to supply this finite resource.

Treasury's 2012 Budget Review, tabled by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last week, says South Africa will start running out of water 13 years from now without better management.

"On current projections, South Africa's water demand will outstrip available supply between 2025 and 2030," the document states.

R75bn for water infrastructure


An amount of R75bn has been allocated over the next three years for "water infrastructure, quality management, resource planning and support to local government" to address the problem.

Speaking at the briefing on Tuesday, Molewa indicated that action needed to be taken sooner rather than later.

"We don't want to wait until we have a situation like we have with electricity," she said.

Her department's hopes were pinned on various initiatives, including the completion of Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which is set to supply an additional 151 million cubic metres of water to the Vaal River system by 2020.

The department was also looking at developing ground water, as well as coastal desalination plants, although the water supplied by the latter would be expensive.

Another option was a "realignment" of water prices. In this regard, the department had drawn up a draft tariff review programme.

Molewa said that each year water boards applied for and set their own tariffs for the various agricultural and industrial users.

Behavioural change

"This inequality is what we want to address at the moment... Every year there is this approach, and we really think this is not on. By the end of the year [2012] we will have that programme in place."

The public would be invited to give inputs to the programme - set to affect the price they will pay for water - before it was taken to Cabinet for approval, she said.

Molewa said the problems of leaks in water supply systems also needed to be addressed. In some areas, up to 41% of the water supplied was being lost before it got to the user.

Further, a major "behavioural change" was needed in the way South Africans used and consumed water.

"If we don't act, we will face a near crisis situation in the future," she said.

In his State of the Nation address earlier this month, President Jacob Zuma said water affairs would "invest heavily in the maintenance and construction of bulk water supply infrastructure over the next two years".

Comments
  • Nigel - 2012-02-28 15:02

    well you are the minister of water affairs, besides making known statements, what is your plan to solve the problem.

      Typersa - 2012-02-28 15:06

      Fix all the broken taps in the townships that constantly leak all over the place. Small things go a long way!!

      Fussed - 2012-02-28 15:16

      You are telling us this now. We have being telling you that for the last 16 yeas. Blady thieves

      Max - 2012-02-28 15:37

      Stating the obvious, many knowledgeable people have told you and your ANC over and over again that you must perform infrastructure MAINTENANCE in the country otherwise the sewage and mine water will contaminate our rivers and drinking water, but then again there is no word for infrastructure maintenance in anyone of our indigenous languages.

      Willie - 2012-02-28 15:42

      How much of that money is allocated for corrupt caders

      JakesLR - 2012-02-28 15:47

      And I wonder really how much of the R 75 billion will go directly to solve the problem?? Seems like a lot of money

      Vince - 2012-02-28 16:29

      Firstly I do not think she has a solution to the problem and secondly I think she is starting to prepare us for massive price increases!!!!

      Francois - 2012-02-28 16:38

      It is obvious, buy another submarine?

      Tanie - 2012-02-28 18:10

      fussed, you are spot on this is not news is almost history.

  • deon.fourie - 2012-02-28 15:06

    In SA Government this problematic situation is known as "Future Sustainability to make Beeg Bucks". Call it a "dire and desperate" situation in a few years, and add it to the Eskom bill when the time comes, right? For now, put your feet up, grab another KFC Thigh and dip it in the Gravy Train... I mean Bucket.

  • Ian - 2012-02-28 15:12

    One answer would be to require all new buildings of any sort to have underground rain water storage.

      Peter - 2012-02-28 15:44

      Why underground. I think if each home had a rain water tank that would suffice. Not very expensive, water affairs could even supply poor people with poly tanks.

      Ian - 2012-02-28 16:21

      Every office complex should have a grey water system, low flow technology (showers and taps)as well rain water collection! all gardens should be changed to succulent gardens no more exotics and no watering of the gardens during the day!! wasting water is a sin!

  • Heiku - 2012-02-28 15:19

    Are there any plans in place to build more dams? When was the last we built a dam? When was the last time anybody in government even gave a damn!?!

      Peter - 2012-02-28 15:51

      I think dams are a lower priority than water quality. The sewage works need to function properly, industrial pollution needs to be controlled. Its pointless storing polluted water - look at Hartebeestpoort as an example. Strict enforcement of pollution legislation is required, and infrastructure that was inherited in good shape needs to be fixed. The government is responsible for allowing the quality of our water to deteriorate, there is not that major an issue with volume.

      frans.visserdsb - 2012-02-28 15:54

      building a new dam from inception to completion can take more than a decade... the water shortage has been looming for a number of years. the problem is exacerbated by the increased urbanisation of the population as well as the pollution of ground and surface water resources (AMD, badly maintained sewage plants) Unfortunately i think they have allready missed the boat. In a number of towns (Witbank, Carolina) the tap water is no longer fit for human consumption... but it's ok, we can all drink bottled water...

      Heiku - 2012-02-28 16:02

      Oh ok. My logic is that the population increases so water consumption increases so we need more dams. I guess it's more complex than that. Also I want new places to go fishing :)

      Heiku - 2012-02-28 16:05

      Peter; regarding hartebeespoort dam, what problems does the supposed pollution actually pose? I ask because I go wakeboarding there often and I'm fine. I also go fishing there and the carp look healthy. It does smell bad though.. is that the only problem?

      Peter - 2012-02-28 16:31

      Heiku, my info comes from watching Carte Blanche - everything under the sun is polluting Hartebeestpoort - including possible nuclear nasties from Pelindaba. Also it used to be one of the top anagling dams for Kurper - do you still catch them. Brother in law was there recently and said the smell was bad. Last time I was there the water resembled pea soup - but that was a while back. Carp and Barbel are pretty tough fish, so I don't think they are too good a measure of water quality. I agree some more dams are needed, but water quality is the biggest priority as far as I'm concerned. I believe we have more water than is made out.

      Heiku - 2012-02-28 16:49

      Yes there are no more blou kurper.. only vlei kurper and canary kurper

      Heiku - 2012-02-28 16:51

      The water is much worse around the side of the dam than in the middle. I think that has something to do with the kurper shortage as they mostly stay in the shallows

  • Richard - 2012-02-28 15:22

    I smell an increase in water tariffs like the electricity tariffs.

      Peter - 2012-02-28 15:47

      Some water tariffs have to go up, some are so cheap they are not sustainable. Lets hope they target the correct ones and not everybody.

      Marion - 2012-02-28 16:09

      It sounds as if agriculture and industry are to be the main targets. I cannot understand why they started charging farmers for water in the first instance. I like someone's suggestion that every house should have a water tank.

      Sharon - 2012-02-28 16:12

      It may well be the overwhelming stench of unmaintained sewerage farms, Richard! "The impending disaster that would be created by acid mine drainage as well as sewerage and industrial pollution had on many occasions been brought to the attention of the government, however with no positive results, the association said." - An article I found dating back as far as September 2010

  • Brett - 2012-02-28 15:33

    With the rate of farm attacks increasing we are probably going to run out of food long before we run out of water. What does the government have to say about this? Will they only wake up when the last bucket of KFC runs out?

      deon.fourie - 2012-02-28 15:46

      To sarcastically answer your question regarding the KFC issue: They'll probably hook up another Boeing 747 to Zuma's Hollow Headed Crony Fleet and import a few tons, on-the-fly, so to speak.

      Peter - 2012-02-28 15:46

      The issue at hand here is water, not farm attacks. Departments must focus on their responsibilities, farm attacks are the SAPS and SADF reponsibilities.

      StarStruck - 2012-02-28 15:53

      Responsibility? What does that word mean? Governments come and governments go. In South Africa's case they will probably go when it is too late.

  • Vadyamina Jazz Maruvha - 2012-02-28 15:41

    i disagree those corrupt ministers are just looking for a way to chew our tax money, most of our dam in south africa are nearly full, the only problem is them not knowing what do with this water

      Negry - 2012-02-28 15:55

      I wonder whos using this water.

      Vadyamina Jazz Maruvha - 2012-02-28 15:57

      this water are used by their close friends and families only not us

      Peter - 2012-02-28 16:34

      I agree, some dams in our area are hardly used at all. They were built for projects that never materialized.

  • Bomb - 2012-02-28 15:42

    Whaaaaaahahaha, hahahaha, you have been told this for the past 15 years. Exactly the same as what happened with the electricity crisis. It seems that the terms medium and long term planning does not exist in this government's dictionary, unless it has to do with fckn social grants, thats all they worry about. Unfortunately on the long term you will have to plan for various desalinization plants to be built in order to pump water to the dams. The ocean is there, lots of it, so use it. Unfortunately due to your own lack of proper planning, the taxpayers are gonna foot the bill, just as with the electricity crisis. The government only plans for one thing, GRANTS!!!

  • Negry - 2012-02-28 15:45

    I mani atirhisaka mati ya kona?

  • StarStruck - 2012-02-28 15:45

    Carte Blanche investigated this exact problem a few years back and the then minister of water affairs said our water supply is under no threat at all even polution. She was shown video footage of the polution loving algae found in all dams and rivers within South Africa but still, eish there is no problem.

      Peter - 2012-02-28 16:38

      This is what is scary, when these guys talk the talk you can be sure they won't walk the walk. Blah blah, we have a crisis. Are we going to do anything about it .. I think not, given their reputation. Can only hold thumbs things are going to change I guess.

  • Jaz - 2012-02-28 15:51

    They will levy a tax on something in order for the problem not to be solved.

  • Negry - 2012-02-28 15:54

    I mani a tirhisaka mati lawa kahle kahle,Giyani never had water since ever.

  • JudithNkwe - 2012-02-28 16:00

    Gauteng runs out of water in 2015 unless we render AMD potable, which is possible. We need to urgently deal with all the high levels of pollution in our rivers and catchments. Pollution and lack of enforcement of NEMA and the Water Act is compromising our communities and their health.

      Marion - 2012-02-28 16:16

      It was my understanding a couple of years back that the Jukskei river, instead of having, say, 2000 eColi per ml actually had something like 1 000 000 eColi (probably got the actual figures wrong but it was horrifying information. Apparently supermarkets are even refusing to accept produce grown in areas like the Crocodile River Valley (?) because the eColi count on the veggies is too high. Raw sewage has been running into our rivers for years now. The government is an egg juggler that is dropping eggs all over the place and the stench, at times, is absolutely unbearable.

      Peter - 2012-02-28 16:38

      Very depressing.

  • Dennis - 2012-02-28 16:00

    Wow Edna, did you just wake up dearie ?

  • Peter - 2012-02-28 16:06

    They must focus heavily on repairing current infrastructure they have allowed to collapse. Our rivers are being catastrophically polluted, what is the point of storing ruined water. Mining pollution is irreversably destroying many of our rivers and wetlands, they must come down heavily on them. Volume of water is not a major concern, the major concern is that the resources we currently have are being ruined by mismanagement. What happened to the Blue Scorpions, have they ever convicted any big polluters. Every town in the country is pumping raw sewage into our rivers, we're heading for a bigger disaster than a shortage of water I think.

  • Herman - 2012-02-28 16:11

    This is an "Escom crisis" in the making!

  • louis.langenhoven - 2012-02-28 16:26

    In the early 80's there was a study that indicated that SA might run out of water in 2020- I can clearly remember learning about it in my first year at varsity in 1984...glad someone updated the minister

  • tienie.vorster1 - 2012-02-28 16:27

    They learned from Eskom the prices will now double and there bonuses will tripple

  • Morne - 2012-02-28 16:36

    So they can predict rainfall for the next ten years! Seems more like a tender process to me!

  • Steve - 2012-02-28 16:48

    The minister of Water Affairs must wake up before it is to late, get the experience people to get the water business sorted out. Fire the present plant operators, all over SA rivers are poluted with sewage. We cannot trust bottled water anymore. Steve KZN

  • Ze Don - 2012-02-28 16:52

    Let me hazard a guess: The few people that actually pay for their water are going to be nailed once again. While the people that get it for free will continue wasting to their hearts content... TIA

  • tina.schilling1 - 2012-02-28 16:59

    Wakey, wakey! Start doing something right now!

  • Cheryl - 2012-02-28 17:42

    And here i thought we all knew that. In the city i stay in if there is water its not drinkable on the best days one can bath, do dishes and laundry with it. But never drinkable. We get water all colours from yellow to black water. Of course that is when water comes thru the taps.

  • Kobus - 2012-02-28 17:47

    If you have a 40% wastage of water due to lack or no maintenance on the water infrastructure then obviously there is serious problems. And to think that this happens with millions of employed state personnel who is supposed to be dedicated to doing their work. No country can survive if gross inefficiencies like this are allowed. To ad to this, the managers who allow this to happen is earns very good bucks. The logic answer is easy, get another government, unfortunately its not realistic. So we are left with the ANC to do what is right,At least from our side we can reduce our electrical consumption and water consumption (will have no choice due to high tariffs).

  • Tanie - 2012-02-28 18:15

    Mamphele, please help us to chuck these fools off our faces YOU are our only hope AND make them pay for the damages they have caused AND clean their bank accounts including those outside our borders the money in them is stolen.IDIOTS.

  • johannes.buckle - 2012-02-28 18:38

    I am a water engineer with 33 years of experience - field of expertise Water Demand Management and Integrated Water Resources Management. I work from home mostly in East Africa because I cannot get work (consultancy basis) due to the labour act and BBBEE etc.I do know where the problems lie, what to do about it and how to do it. Phase 2 of Lesotho Highlands is politically motivated and not necessary - why - due to the massive water wastage happening in Gauteng by consumers not paying for water. I can go on and on but I have been doing this argument for 12 years and to SUPPLY is worth much more political kudus than to curb wastage and demand.

  • rory.short1 - 2012-02-28 18:53

    The water crisis is looming for the whole country but as I understand it it has already hit Limpopo because there are already more people living in that province than can be properly supported by the amount of available water. So we already have an area of the country where the population has exceeded the carrying capacity of the water resources. There are only two ways to fix this. One, reduce the population to fit the carrying capacity of the water resources, or two, import water from elsewhere in the country. Solution two will mean that the carrying capacity of the water resources in that area of the country will be correspondingly reduced.

  • fred.reinhardt - 2012-02-28 19:11

    Give me R 25,000,000 and I will solve the solution.he! he! Jokes aside,urban population in cities and surround have more than doubled since 1994.Tap the Vaal and Orange rivers with water that is flowing directly into the Atlantic- run pipe lines in to large catchment areas close to these cities.USA runs oil lines hundreds of miles for oil and water to certain areas with great success Too many are not paying for tapped water needs to be addressed. Millions of Rand could help in a project if this is carried out.

      Tanie - 2012-02-28 20:29

      How did you skip adolescent stage? boyish old man.

  • Lohla - 2012-02-29 14:48

    Everyone is so quick to lambast government for not doing anything but how about we ALL make an effort to save water in an individual capacity -WE are the problem!!!!! Yes I agree government needs to put a plan in place, absolutely, but each person needs to take individual RESPONSIBILITY to save water. We are our own worst enemy.

      Vincent - 2012-03-09 15:18

      So True! And It wouldn't hurt either if, as a nation, we stopped reproducing so much. Our massive population growth is putting a big strain on water resources.

  • Vanessa - 2012-03-01 10:12

    I think if everyone works together,start by educating the kids first how important it is to have water,we need water on a daily basis,some people are taking everything for granted.In some countries people are crying out for water.So lets all work together and make the difference:)Have a blessed day

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