SA must do more to look after water, says WWF

2013-09-13 13:01
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Water action

2013-08-27 10:26

Hydrogeologist Christine Colvin, senior manager of fresh water programmes at the WWF SA, in this YouTube video, talks about the need to cost the entire water infrastructure in SA.WATCH

Cape Town - South Africans need to do more to conserve water resources as the country will feel the impact of water usage, particularly as climate change and poor management affect supplies of drinking water, an environmental organisation has warned.

"South Africa is going to feel the effects of climate change first through water resources. We have to manage that certainty of supply in new and different ways," hydrogeologist Christine Colvin, senior manager of fresh water programmes at the WWF SA told News24.

She said that the awareness that water is a scarce is precious resource is growing.

"I think there's a universal awareness of the scarcity of water and we will see a price and a tariff revision - so it's not only going to be scarce, it's going to become more expensive as well," said Colvin.

Woolworths has been working on its environmental footprint for several years, and company recently began a programme to investigate water losses at its premises.

Environmental sustainability

"By addressing the leaks, we have saved municipal water and R1m in the last financial year alone, from our corporate stores," the retailer said.

The company views environmental sustainability as a cost saving measure and also installed a solar panel on its Cape Town head office.

"We've done a lot of work on energy efficiency over a number of years and that was really the first focus from an environmental and a cost saving initiative," Justin Smith, Woolworths sustainability manager told News24.

Colvin said that the cost of water would need to be adjusted to account for the maintenance of outdated networks, where, according some reports, up to 40% of water is wasted.

"There's an assumption that if we charge more for water, people will use it more wisely and more carefully, and we need to test that assumption," she said.

Woolworths said that 90% of its stores and its distribution centres have been assessed for their compliance with the company's policies.

The WWF argued that if companies were to face a real threat of criminal prosecution for their environment impact, there would be higher levels of compliance.


"I think idea of prosecuting for wasting, yes, that could definitely make sure that in terms of the management systems that are in place that the risk of losing and having a water leakage would be taken into account and addressed in much more proactive way," said Colvin.

Mining firm Coal of Africa recently had to pay a R9.2m fine for contravening the National Environmental Management Act (Nema).

Colvin added that all water consumers are impacted by the actions of industry and commercial players who are high water users.

"We need to look at a whole suite of measures like that which will refocus companies' attention on what are the risks that they face in terms of water and how are they putting others at risk through either their direct water actions or things that they're doing in terms of downstream users."

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Read more on:    wwf  |  woolworths  |  water  |  environment
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