'SA has to become more efficient in managing its water resources'

Recent scientific reports on water-stressed regions contain some alarming figures - nearly 25% of the world population lives in water-scarce areas and nearly a third of total fresh water is groundwater, which is poorly managed.

On Weekend Breakfast, Refiloe Mpakanyane speaks to water expert, Dr Kevin Winter from the Future Water Institute at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

He believes it's because we don't actually see groundwater that it's not well understood and managed, which is a concern in South Africa.

Groundwater becomes quite strongly polluted because we infiltrate a whole lot of things into our ground, including acid mine drainage, that compromises the ability to use that water.

Dr Kevin Winter, Future Water Institute - University of Cape Town

We can't take out more water from the ground that is being recharged into that groundwater.

Dr Kevin Winter, Future Water Institute - University of Cape Town

Dr Winter says while large-scale desalination of our abundant sea water is too costly to be feasible, the country has got to find efficient ways to work with the water it's got.

This includes reviewing the current spread of agriculture, which includes marginal, water-scarce regions.

If we are growing crops in very dry areas, completely reliant on surface water, maybe we'd better start thinking very seriously about how to change the way we are growing food in these parts.

Dr Kevin Winter, Future Water Institute - University of Cape Town

Over the years these kinds of reports are giving us better information, but we're still not hearing it.

Dr Kevin Winter, Future Water Institute - University of Cape Town

This is the moment perhaps, when we've got to look at these reports and say how do we become more efficient or even move from a lot of these areas that are marginal in their growing of agricultural products, so that we can actually use water for other purposes.

Dr Kevin Winter, Future Water Institute - University of Cape Town

For more on managing South Africa's water resources, listen here:


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