Water: use it or lose it, hints minister

2012-04-18 00:00

CAPE TOWN — More than 60% of South Africa’s water goes to the agricultural sector, but the sector is not fully using it while applications for new housing developments are turned down because of a lack of water, says the Minister of Environmental and Water Affairs, Edna Molewa.

She said yesterday in a submission to parliament that 24% of South Africa’s water was consumed in urban areas, while only about three percent went to households in rural areas.

She said municipalities could not approve housing developments, as they did not have extra water for all the new consumers.

When the agricultural sector was asked to show who was using the 60% of water allocated to it, its reaction was simply that it was planning for development of new farmers.

Molewa said she found it “incomprehensible” that tangible development could not happen elsewhere while water was being held by agriculture.

She said this situation could not continue but gave the assurance that water will not be taken away from anyone that is a real water user.

She added that poor people would not stand with their arms folded while their areas had no water and this after 18 years of democracy.

“We are working really hard … to fill the gap,” she said.

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