Water Wednesday: Pricing revisited to combat water wastage

According to the Director of Water Resource Planning, Patrick Mlilo, South Africa is a water scarce country where 5.3 million houses (35%) still do not have access to reliable clean drinking water. Despite this staggering figure, the per capita water use in South Africa is 2.75% and the department is trying to bring it down to 1.75% in line with the international requirement for countries that do not have sufficient water.

Part of the plan to bring this percentage down is to curb industrial and agricultural water waste and review the government’s pricing strategy. Mlilo painted a gloomy picture of the country’s water situation that has been caused, among others, by adverse climate change and the population explosion.

He pointed to a host of factors that contributed to water reduction, such as pollution from agriculture, mining, industry, energy and sanitation. The inefficient water management practices, lack of infrastructure maintenance and weak governance also contributed to water scarcity.

“Water scarcity could deteriorate rapidly as the supply contracts and demand escalate due to growth, urbanization, inefficient use, degradation of wetlands, water losses and reduction in yield due to climate change,” Mlilo said.

The Department is prioritising the recovery of costs for water resource management at industrial level and also wants to protect the poor against unaffordable water tariffs.

These are the primary sectors that use up water in the country:

  • Agriculture, which used up to 62% of water for irrigation of crops.
  • Municipalities, which accounted for 24% of water consumption.

Other categories of water users include:

  • Industry and mining,
  • Hydropower (for non-consumptive use based on a combination of fixed and variable charge) and stream flow reduction activities such as afforestation.

The department has also started a programme for water augmentation in the Western Cape.

Here is your weekly dam update:

  • The Vaal River System consisting of 14 dams serving mainly Gauteng Sasol and Eskom is at 100%.
  • The Cape Town Dams System consisting of six dams serving mainly City of Cape Town this week is at 16.9%.
  • The KwaZulu-Natal Dam System is at 65.2 % this week while Eastern Cape Dam System sits at 68.5%.

Here are the latest dam percentages throughout the country:

For a more in depth rainfall update, visit WeatherSA or click here. For more information on the water storage levels across the country, visit the DWS site. For a comprehensive drought status report from the Department of Water and Sanitation, click here.


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