Dam storage levels remain alarmingly low. Picture: Denzil Maregele/ANA pictures
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said yesterday that, unless drastic changes were made, the economy could be affected by a lack of water.

“It’s costing about R14billion to deal with the backlog of water and sanitation infrastructure. It’s time for government to position themselves differently,” Mokonyane said during a briefing on the Infrastructure Investment Summit, which will take place at the end of the month.

“We are one of that countries that is constrained by water availability ... We have a responsibility to develop water for future generations.” She said it was vital that South Africa maintained good relations with neighbouring countries, because water was a cross-cutting matter.

“The reality is that water is a cross-cutting matter that deals with peace and stability with surrounding countries, as we rely on Lesotho for water.” “Until something drastic happens, we stand a chance of seeing our economy not growing due to the lack of water,” Mokonyane said. She said initiatives were under way to help people to understand why it was necessary to conserve water.

The minister said maintenance and upgrading of the water and sanitation infrastructure were vital, because South Africa was one of the few countries where water could be drunk directly from a tap.