SA metros heading for water crisis: expert

2011-02-19 09:48

Metropolitans are heading for a major water crisis in 2020, a former director general of the Department of Water Affairs has warned.

Mike Muller, who now serves as an adjunct professor at the University of the Witwatersrand and sits on the National Planning Commission, said at a Water and Energy Forum in Sandton this week that it was time for metropolitans to start “panicking” about their water supplies.

“I really do think in most of our metros, if we don’t panic now, if we don’t take action now, we will be in a crisis by 2020,” Muller said in comments quoted by the Saturday Star newspaper.

“We’re not going to run out of water, but there are some hotspots. eThekwini (Durban) is actually the most vulnerable metro at the moment – they’ve been living a charmed life.”

Muller said eThekwini “should” have run out of water during the 2010 World Cup and that it “should” run out of water during the UN climate change talks this year, but the metro would “probably get away with it”.

“We know many municipal users are not planning at all, or if they are, they’re not acting on their plans,” Muller said.

“All stakeholders must... move into action or we’re in trouble. I think we need to panic at the right time and the right time is now.”

Muller said the Vaal system in Gauteng looked “disastrous”.

“We look as though we’re 25% short of water for the next 10 years,” Muller said.

“By the time we implement phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (in 2019), we’ll have been at risk for 10 years. Guaranteed there will be a drought.”He blamed farmers in the Vaal for stealing water for irrigation as well as water leakage and inefficient water use.

Muller said good water management was key to growth and development.

He said environmental campaigners around acid mine drainage, actually “distract” from the main challenges around water quality and were “more about” companies trying to make profits out of the tail end of the mining industry.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.