SA water under pressure - department

2012-05-18 12:58

Cape Town - Water resources in South Africa are under "immense pressure" and the department wants to partner with communities to increase protection for wetlands and rivers.

"We realise that our water resources are under immense pressure from using water and from pollution impacts. We are taking various steps to improve that, even in our legislation where we make provision for the right of the natural water resource," head of the Western Cape regional office in the department of water affairs resource protection section, Wilna Kloppers, told News24.

The department is rolling out the Adopt a River programme that seeks to encourage communities to take responsibility for rivers and wetlands in the environment.

The community of Khayelitsha on the Cape Flats recently adopted the Kuils River and an intensive clean-up has improved the area around the river, but Kloppers said that government remained committed to environmental responsibility.

"The idea is that government and specific levels of government have a specific mandate and a specific responsibility and role to play."

Pollution threat

In the more affluent Muizenberg suburb, the pollution in the Zandvlei estuary has resulted in dead fish and algae blooms in the water.

CapeNature has allocated R24.5m of its budget to help protect estuaries and improve the functioning of catchment areas.

Kloppers said that while the department was committed to water resource protection, it depended on communities to be vigilant with regard to water bodies in the area.

"We want to partner with the public in general to assist us there, if they pick up things that they want to report, and the relevant departments can action. Also, [the public] should be aware of the fact that they can make a huge difference. If people are aware of the impact of waste on the water resources and their quality of life, they can cut that pollution chain, so to speak."

Many river systems are under threat through pollution, unchecked development and abstraction and the department has initiated an education component in their programme with communities in sensitive areas.

"It is to take it to a very local level; to educate people, but also for them to take responsibility to assist with water resource management," said Kloppers.

She conceded though, that there were not enough officials to monitor all water systems and that the government had initiated programmes to incentivise municipalities to improve water quality.


"The capacity will always be a challenge, but having said that, I think trying to learn from the mistakes of other countries is a good thing. We're trying to be a little bit proactive and that's where the Blue Drop and Green Drop programmes also come in to say: 'This is incentive-based'."

Water Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi warned that the gloves were off for people who stole water.

"Our Blue Scorpions are there. When they do illegal connections, people down the river don't get water and you are stealing - you are a thief - you are a criminal. When we find them, we don't negotiate - we break all those connections. We punish you for stealing our water," she said recently.

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  • Andre - 2012-05-18 13:28

    first place to start is by repairing all the broken and disused surage plant in the country by competent people not BBEEEEEEE, this wil result in many rivers being cleaned

  • Jonathan - 2012-05-18 13:47

    Judging by the protestors in the photo, we need to save our food too!

      Alf - 2012-06-02 17:01

      They are just throwing their weight around! 4x4's on foot.

  • Ryno - 2012-05-18 14:01


  • Willem - 2012-05-18 14:08

    The Western Cape has just about reached the limit of its watercapacity - the supply will be insufficient to satisfy the demand if the present rate of population increase continues.

      Antin - 2012-05-18 16:09

      Ja, what with all the refugees and all.

      RangoAndEmy - 2012-05-21 20:04

      I know it really worries me a lot, I am so happy to see the Ladies from Khayelitsha are realising this problem, so that we may all be water conscious together..

  • Gail - 2012-05-18 14:23

    I know that East London is now Western Cape, but perhaps the rich in the West can assist the poor in the East to get their sewerage system working instead of pumping the ^&*( into the river and the sea.

      Vicker - 2012-05-18 15:13

      Why? Im sure the "poor" EC gets a sufficient budget to manage it's resources correctly? Why then should the better-run WC bail the incompetent EC? Let the EC voters drown in their own sh1t, maybe they will then figure out who to vote for next time around....

      RangoAndEmy - 2012-05-21 20:07

      If we could Gail we would gladly help you in the Eastern Cape we would love to have Eastern Cape under DA so that we may up-lift the Eastern Cape it is the home of our Great Grandfather Nelson Mandela and such a precious part of our South Africa

  • Hugh - 2012-05-18 18:21

    Can Government and Munciaplities answer these few simple questions. 1] Why in the National Water Act and other recent papers does the harvesting Rain water have only a paragraph dedicated to its use nationally. When for example every other COP country has pages and considers RWH as part and parcel of National Water Management Strategy. 2] Why do municipal Bylaws not promote rain water harvesting. Replacing the restrictive Bylaws with those that encourage rain water harvesting. 3] Why does government continue to lie about the definition of the term "other source water" used in these Gazetted bylaws and DWA approved legislation. Please explain and define in clear terms how these restrictive laws that apply to "Other source water" do not apply to rain water harvesting. How can rain water not be an "other source water". For instance if as legislated Municipal water is the only water allowed to flush a lavatory with all other water considered "other source" Why on Gods earth lie and tell us that there is no legiislation preventing Urban RWharvesting? 4] Why if government is not seriously considering RWH as a national water saving effort are they throwing money at research and strategies on privatising SA'S water. Already in whispers they are negotiating a contract with Nestle' to process water. the first steps to privatisation. People wake up to the fact that you are in for a big shock and a new rip off.

      Lacrimose - 2012-05-18 19:26

      The govt doesn't answer rational questions. We are assured though that the issues you raised are "at the top of their minds". We will be presented with the solution in due course, which will include a period of public debate which no-one will know about until after the rolling 26% price hikes. So start making your protest boards and t-shirts, gather some rocks and most importantly, find ways of reducing consumption and gathering every drop you can. We might be getting Blue Drop certificates left, right and centre but we are all in for the long drop when it comes to water security.

  • Dave - 2012-05-19 10:57

    And they only wake up now????

  • mikeangell61 - 2012-05-20 14:06

    Squatter camps on all our river lines make the problem worse.

  • Martin - 2012-05-21 10:24

    and about 20 yrs ago new dams should have already been started, there is all the job creation you anc want....for a while anyway....

      Martin - 2012-05-21 10:25

      anc new motto...we dont fail to plan, we plan to fail

  • my10cent - 2012-07-20 08:32

    It took the ANC only 18years to screw it up!!!!

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