Water warning for Vaal area

2012-03-18 14:35

Pretoria - One big drought in the Vaal River catchment area over the next eight years could jeopardise the region’s agricultural and industrial output, senior Eskom and Sasol managers have warned.

Speaking at the end of the World Water Forum in Marseille, France, they said the period from now until 2020, when Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) starts delivering water to the Vaal, was one of “major risk”.

While a drought would not necessarily pose a threat to the two corporations' ability to generate power and manufacture fuel - both Eskom and Sasol are deemed “strategic water users” and unlikely to have their supply curtailed - the same would not apply to others.

Particularly vulnerable would be large industrial water users, agriculture and municipalities located in and around the country’s economic heartland, Gauteng.

Eskom’s general manager for water and environmental operations, Nandha Govender, told Sapa a drought would see the region “pushing the boundaries” of available water supply.

At risk

“The capacity of the Vaal system is a major risk. We see the crucial period being between now and 2020, when Phase II of the LHWP starts delivering water.

“The risk lies with large industrial water users, agriculture and the municipalities… It’s a situation we don’t want to get into.”

Govender also said although 2020 was the date set by government for Phase II to start delivering more water to the region, large projects of this nature often missed such targets, and the first water might only start flowing from Lesotho in 2021, or 2022.

Sasol sustainable water manager Andries Meyer said while the region “hadn’t had a drought for a long time”, and had enjoyed good rains in recent years, this did not mean a drought would not occur.

While Sasol would focus on improving its water-use efficiency, this alone would not be enough to significantly reduce the risk.

The answer lay in developing partnerships between the private and public sector on the one hand, and national, provincial and local government on the other.

Reducing risk

“Particularly in the areas of municipal water conservation demand management, as well as in the agriculture sector. This is the way to go to reduce the risk, particularly in the Vaal.”

The government needed to foster incentive schemes to encourage and promote such partnerships, Meyer said.

Govender also noted that while Eskom was doing a lot to improve its water-use efficiencies, this alone would not solve the region’s supply problems.

Currently, it was producing more electricity using less water, and had taken a “step change” in its water management practices. Its water usage would “peak” in 2021, but start dropping after this date as the new dry-cooled power stations, Medupi and Kusile, came on line, together with a shift to renewables and nuclear power.

In the short term, however, the solution lay with encouraging both local government and the agriculture sector to manage water more efficiently, he said.

Leaks

According to reports, many municipalities in the region lose a quarter to a third of the water they abstract from the Vaal system through leaks. The region has also had problems with farmers illegally abstracting water.

Like his Sasol counterpart, Govender also stressed the importance of partnerships to solve this problem.

“We need to lead by example. There is not sufficient water, but working in partnerships, with national and local government, we can address challenges of water availability and quality.”

Asked how “tight” things would get for Eskom in the event of a big drought - the utility still relies largely on “wet” coal-fired power stations for the bulk of its electricity generation - Govender said there was concern.

“We’re definitely concerned. Not from a point of view of our water supply, because we are a strategic water user, in terms of the hierarchy of allocation. We wouldn’t be necessarily curtailed, not in terms of our production.

Water use

“The biggest risk we see is reputational - in terms of water being allocated to energy production versus water being taken away for basic human needs, and people not being able to do what they’re used to doing because of restrictions.

“Also with agriculture and water for food security, there you’re going to have a lot of pressure,” he said.

Eskom, which produces almost all South Africa’s electricity, uses about 330 million cubic metres of water a year to keep its power stations running; Sasol, which produces 40 percent of the country’s fuel, uses just over a third of this amount: 120 million cubic metres.

According to the department of water affairs, Phase II of the LHWP, which includes the construction of the Polihali Dam in Lesotho, is set to deliver an additional 15 cubic metres of water a second to the Vaal system from July 2020.

According to last month’s national budget, South Africa is set to spend R75 billion constructing new and renovating old water supply and sanitation systems over the next three years.

- SAPA
Read more on:    sasol  |  eskom  |  water
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
15 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Music

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The quest for understanding has reached a new intense emotional level. The more tempestuous your emotions are, the bigger the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.