SA’s water outlook is seriously serious

Addressing parliament on Wednesday, Trevor Balzer from the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) painted a bleak outlook for South Africa’s water situation.

webs on tapSouth Africa’s water outlook looks bleak with an annual shortfall of 17% forecast by 2030.
Image credit: Daily Maverick

He warns that by 2030, the country could be facing a water deficit as high as 38 billion cubic metres a year – representing a shortfall of 17% annually.

The DWS’ Masterplan – on which the deputy director general of strategic and emergency projects presented a progress report – will serve as a blueprint for South Africa’s water needs until 2030.

Of the water produced, non-revenue water (water that is lost before it reaches the customer, through leaks or theft) accounts for around 41% and in his presentation, Balzer says the country’s water losses are ‘exceptionally high’. Actual physical losses are pegged at 35%.

He adds that, “this is an indictment on how we manage our infrastructure,” saying that there is also a lack of data resulting from weak monitoring systems regarding water usage.

cartoonThe cartoon illustrates the dire state of South Africa’s water.
Image credit: Pinterest

South Africa faces a water services infrastructure funding gap of about R30-billion annually.

Balzer says South Africans also use more water per capita compared with the world average.

In her presentation to at a media briefing on 6 November, Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, pointed out that based on statistics released in July, the country consumes 237ℓ per capita a day, as opposed to the global average of 173ℓ per capita a day.

Balzer echoes her call to address this consumption and says, “We need urgent interventions to reduce demand – also by adopting new technologies and reducing losses, especially in the agricultural and urban sectors.”

Also introduced into the mix, is the loss of ecological infrastructure, such as wetlands, which significantly influence the availability of water – more so when a series of wetlands lose its ability to release water in times of drought.

The loss of wetlands also negatively affects the ability of water systems to offset flow in times of flooding.

The final draft of the Water Masterplan is expected to be concluded by the end of March 2018. Before the deadline, the department will hold stakeholder engagements from 24 November to 8 December. 



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