Water use in the spotlight

Johannesburg - The National Assembly’s water and sanitation committee has called for the commissioning of a scientific study to determine the annual consumption levels of South Africa’s water intensive sectors.

The committee said the study should also determine the sector’s contribution to communities in which it operated and the greater economy.

File picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA

Committee chairman Lulu Johnson said yesterday that the committee was scheduled to meet with energy, beverages, hospitality industries later in the year to also determine compliance with the country’s laws.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day workshop hosted by the committee and held in the North West with the Chamber of Mines and South Africa’s platinum houses in the platinum belt.

Sanitation problems

The workshop covered the mining industry’s compliance to laws, and possible solutions to sanitation problems.

“We want to determine their compliance to the law, their water use and contribution to communities and the economy,” Johnson said.

“We have identified a number of industries that use a lot of water, for example, the petroleum industry.

“We had a session with petrochemical giant, Sasol, and we are planning to meet other players within the same industry.

“The energy sector, including Eskom, is another sector that uses water big time. We want to know as to how these sectors are ploughing back into water service providers.”

Johnson said the sectors needed to contribute to the maintenance of the country’s infrastructure to avoid any future leaks or loss of water. He said water consumption in the mining sector was too high.

“The key is that we do not interact with the water intensive sectors only when they need a water use licence,” he said. “For example, in one of the presentations we heard that Impala Platinum uses 60 megalitres of water a day. That is a lot of water from just one firm.”

Johnson said the mining industry was in a position to partner with the Department of Water and Sanitation to contribute to water security.

Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said previously that 103 mines were breaking the law by operating without water-use licences.

Johnson said the committee had visited companies and found most to be in breach of the laws as waste, including animal blood, often found its way into municipal water infrastructures.