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Page 48

WATER WISE

Desalination plant

increased numbers. The two provinces that are highly affected are Gauteng and the Western Cape. Gauteng has recently grown its population by one million as a result of this urban drift. The Western Cape has grown its population by 79% over a 10-year period. Both these provinces have not made the necessary policy adjustments to increase capacity that will service these additional demands on their water resources. This has no doubt placed a tremendous strain on the already overburdened existing water infrastructure. It must also be noted that South Africans use way above the world average of 173 litres per person per day by using 237 litres of water per person per day. Government Communications and Information Services (GCIS) advised that South Africa is the 29th driest country in the world out of 193. Statistics South Africa further reveal that municipalities with the largest percentage of backlog infrastructure development and low water reliability are located in the largely rural areas along the eastern seaboard in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The highest being Ngquza Hill at 81.7%, Port St Johns at 81.3% and Mbizana at 77.8% as compared with Cape Town at 0.2% with Drakenstein and Saldanha Bay at 0.5%. The way forward Whilst South Africa is still under threat of a lack of sufficient water and

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Municipal Focus

The time has come for a completely new approach to our water and sanitation needs in South Africa. An overhaul of policies and laws pertaining to the supply of clean and safe drinking water for South Africans is required. water quality, and with availability issues becoming more acute, the country is much better prepared to deal with this problem now than a few decades ago, owing to the Water Research Commission’s (WRC) meaningful contribution to the development of the capacity of the water sector, the broadening of the country’s watercentred R&D base, and the WRC continued commitment to direct and fund research on critical issues. “In the future (short-to long-term), it is envisaged that South Africa’s water problems may intensify. Issues such as water for all, quality of life, and a

sustainable environment are an essential part of the country’s national priorities and require considerable attention. In addition, implementation of the National Water Act of 1998, and the related national water strategy, places considerable demand on water management and calls for research support. The role of South Africa in SADC and NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), especially with regard to water resource and water supply and sanitation issues, poses new challenges and requires new initiatives which are within the mandate of the WRC.” – Water Research Commission The time has come for a complete new approach to our water and sanitation needs in South Africa. An overhaul of policies and laws pertaining to the supply of clean and safe drinking water for South Africans is required. Ad hoc changes have proved to be futile, as these challenges have not been overcome. We have been addressing the symptoms and not the causes. Our researchers, interest groups and water and sanitation activists together with international water scientists in their many seminars and research papers have identified the root causes of our water challenges. The consensus is that unless we agree to undertake a comprehensive overhaul of the present policies relating to the full value chain of water and sanitation,

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Municipal Focus Magazine - Volume 51  

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