Theewaterskloof Dam   Picture: Ian Landsberg
Theewaterskloof Dam Picture: Ian Landsberg

#WaterCrisis: Green Scorpions to monitor 'water theft'

By Rusana Philander Time of article published Oct 6, 2017

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Cape Town - The national Department of Water and Sanitation will ask its regional office to approach police about arresting people taking water illegally from rivers or water pipelines, said the department’s Sputnik Ratau.

This comes after the department announced the Green Scorpions (who investigate environmental crimes) have increased law enforcement after illegal connections and dams have been discovered in the Western Cape in farming areas.

Ratau said the department would be speaking to its regional office in Cape Town to approach police and empower them to arrest people who take water illegally.

Ratau explained people had been found pumping water directly from water pipelines. 

“They did it illegally. Any water taken illegally is critical, especially if it is potable water We also know the amount of water which goes through our infrastructure. So we can see if there has been an interference in the water flow. We have also received reports from residents who have seen how water was taken illegally,” Ratau said.

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said: “Concerns, however, remain regarding illegal connections and dams that are emerging in farming areas, extracting water for agricultural purposes during this period. The department, working with the province and the Green Scorpions, is attending to these matters and increased enforcement of laws and by-laws will be effected.”

This was after she met Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and Local Government, Environment and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell, this week. They assessed the Western Cape’s drought situation and interventions currently being implemented.

Mokonyane said the water being taken illegally was used for agriculture.

Monkonyane’s spokesperson, Mlimandlela Ndamase, said people who were illegally using water needed to obtain water licences. 

“We have found that people who are staying on farms next to river basins have also taken water illegally. You need a water licence to do this. When we measure the quantity of water in our system, we can pick this up.”

Mokonyane said the department would be fast-tracking the implementation of the Berg River/Voëlvlei augmentation scheme and were targeting a completion date of winter 2019.

“Similarly plans are afoot to commence with work on the raising of the Clanwilliam Dam wall as a matter of urgency.”

Agri-Western Cape communications manager Jeanne Boshoff said that with the water restrictions, farmers had to reduce water usage in their orchards.

“In many regions fruit trees are also being taken out due to the water crisis in the province,” she said.

Cape Argus

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