Municipalities must improve water conservation measures

South Africa’s municipalities must address serious water management shortfalls and curb wasted and non-revenue water in their areas, according to the South African Local Government Association (Salga).

We're losing in the order of R7bn a year through poor water management

We’re losing in the order of R7bn a year through poor water management

The association of municipalities said on Tuesday that it wanted to benchmark demand management and ensure that municipalities, which are at the coalface of service delivery, monitor water use.

At a Department of Water and Environmental Affairs mayors’ dialogue in Johannesburg on Tuesday, mayors and municipal managers from across the country discussed water demand and the management of waste.

Salga acting executive director of municipal infrastructure services William Moraka said municipalities were losing “in the order of R7bn” a year through poor water management. That is equivalent to the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project over 20 years. The project in Lesotho supplies water to Gauteng province.

Mr Moraka said municipalities, as “the biggest users of water going forward”, had to improve their water conservation measures.

“There is an issue of the critical management of this resource. I happened to be engaging a number of municipalities and, to my disappointment, we don’t even know what the stock of water is that we have. Essentially, the majority of our municipalities do not have what we call a water balance,” he said.

A water balance is a formula used to establish the amount of water entering or exiting a system.

Mr Moraka said Salga’s national conference proposed that municipalities dedicate 1% of their capital expenditure to water conservation and demand management.

Thabo Masike, national programme manager for water conservation and demand management at the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, said water needs were exceeding supply in a number of areas in the country. Also, according to a study by Salga, non-revenue water — which is lost before reaching the consumer — is on the increase.

“We conducted a study … focusing on the 132 municipalities, and the study has indicated that revenue water was already showing a decline,” he said.

According to the South African Water Research Commission the level of non-revenue water in the country last year was nearly 37%, slightly above the global average of 36.2%.

Deputy Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi said while South Africa regarded water as a basic human right, delivery in rural areas in particular was “definitely slower than we would like to see it”.

Mayors attending Tuesday’s dialogue signed a pledge to improve water and waste management at a municipal level.

By: Khulekani Magubane
Source: Business Day Live

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