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Why South Africa could be edging towards a water crisis

7 July 2015 9:43 AM

Scarce water supplies and declining water quality in KZN and other parts is setting off alarm bells for SA's water experts.

South Africa is fast running out of water, with the worst drought since 1992 leaving dams at critical levels and diminishing rivers and streams.

(Also read our article: How Western Cape food crops are being affected by the driest season in years)

There are many reasons that attribute to this growing water crisis in the country.

CapeTalk presenter Redi Thlabi spoke to Christine Colvin, Hydrogeologist and senior manager of the Freshwater Programme World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature South Africa.

We’re certainly on the edge of what could become quite a dramatic water crisis for the country. In the Western Cape dam levels are very low for this time of year. In Kwa-Zulu Natal as well; eThekwini Municipality is introducing water rationing to manage the limitation of water.

Christine Colvin, WWF Hydrogeologist

The economics of water

Colvin says that worldwide many countries and leading businesses are recognising that water crisis holds the potential to have the number one impact on the global economy.

The country faces imminent water shortages in the west and in the far east and grapples with a continuing struggle around water quality across South Africa.

According to Colvin the on going concern over water quality is driven by failing waste water plants and ageing infrastructure that is meant to treat sewage and effluent.

(Also read our article: Why the flows of sewage into Cape seas need more safety screenings)

Redi Tlhabi also spoke with Sputnik Ratau, Spokesperson, Department of Water and Sanitation who says that the department is conscious of the fact that South Africa is a water scarce country.

Our basic responsibility is to ensure security of water supply to all our sectors. We know that water has a cross cutting responsibility for all our socio-economic developments.

Sputnik Ratau, Spokesperson, Department of Water and Sanitation.

3 focus areas in preventing the water crisis:

1. Infrastructural capacity: South Africa needs to invest in the improvement of water system infrastructure. The upgrades will reportedly cost R 700 billion over the next 15 years.

2. Human capital: South Africans need to use water more sparingly and pay their municipal water accounts. Furthermore, the management of water systems need to be operated by more competent people, particularly at a local government level.

3. Natural capital: Water supplies have been affected by climate change. The country needs to invest in long term water security measures and the sustainability of our water sources, landscapes and catchment areas.

Visit the the World Wide Fund For Nature website for more information.

Listen to the full conversation on The Redi Tlhabi Show:

7 July 2015 9:43 AM

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