Dept urges all to help save water

2016-03-22 10:13

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Pietermaritzburg - As the entire global family celebrates World Water Day today, the Department of Water and Sanitation has encouraged South Africans to conserve water.

Still suffering from the devastating ­effects of the El Nino phenomenon — ­responsible for below-average rainfall and blistering heat across the country — ­residents in urban areas are facing tough water restrictions, scores of rural communities have watched their water pipes run dry, and hundreds of farmers have seen their crops wither or livestock die in the extreme heat.

Director-general in the department Margaret-Ann Diedricks said attempts to mitigate the impact of the drought and conserve water cannot be the work of the department alone.

“Community involvement is essential. South Africans need to become actively involved in conserving and using water sparingly, complying with whatever restrictions are in force, and reporting and fixing leaks.

“Farmers too need to optimise their use of this precious resource, and look to drip irrigation systems and other innovative solutions to save water.

“The same applies to industry, where, despite the commendable efforts of many big corporations and businesses, there remains great potential for the further use of recycled water,” she said.

National co-ordinator of Tshintsha Amakhaya Alliance Monique Salomon said the recent research by Oxfam that revealed that half of the R1 billion for drought relief is being used to fix neglected water infrastructure, left government integrity in question.

Tshintsha Amakhaya — a civil society alliance for land, water and food justice — embarked on a Water Justice Campaign. Salomon said they had discovered that rural communities were finding it difficult to access water.

“The target of 60% of water licences to black users by 2024, as stipulated in the National Water Act, remains a pipe-dream. Since 1998, only two percent of water licences issued are to black users.”

KZN is the worst-hit province and was the first to be declared a drought disaster area.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  water

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