Water: A Looming Crisis?

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 04 May 2010

South Africa is one of the driest countries in the world and its water sources are far from its biggest economic centres.

Business Leadership South Africa and the Centre for Development and Enterprise convened a Round Table discussion on 2 November 2009 to examine the state of the water sector in South Africa, probe the reasons for its problems, and explore some solutions.

The report was issued in April 2010 and the following are some extracts from the report.

Rainwater Harvesting by Water Rhapsody

South Africa’s fresh water is limited, and unevenly distributed, so different parts of the country tend to experience shortages at different times, and with varying degrees of severity….Depending on the area, demand needs to be reduced by between 15 and 30 per cent, so water conservation is very important. Implementation will be very challenging, because demand management measures are spread over many institutions, municipalities and households. Without this, we will face water restrictions during the next drought. – Johan van Rooyen Director of National Water Resource Planning, Department of Water Affairs

South Africa faces growing constraints on the availability of water. Many of its river basins are effectively closed, meaning that no additional consumptive water use is feasible within those basins. There is a point where an inability to access water limits development, resulting in economic growth competing with social expansion. Sasol has a relatively large demand for an assured supply of water, but this can’t be at the expense of other users. – Martin Ginster Environmental advisor, Sasol

Once industries understand their water footprint, they need to establish what they can do to meet the water needs of the people in the areas in which they operate. This could include the harvesting of rainwater, which some countries now require from industries. National strategies have to take these issues into account, as well as the fact that people will continue to stream to our cities. – Percy Sechemane Chief executive, Rand Water

More than 90 per cent of municipalities are unable to meet the water quality standards for discharges from their waste water treatment plants (WWTPs), causing pollution hot spots and widespread health risks. Given our sound legislation and good policies, how have we got into this state? The ultimate cause is the erosion of water quality management. – Jenny Day Director, Fresh Water Unit, Department of Zoology, UCT

Read the full report

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