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SA's water strategy approved

Minister of water and environmental affairs Mrs EDNA MOLEWA addressed the media on cabinet approval of the rhino trade proposal for consideration at cities cop17 in 2016 and the national water resource strategy.03/07/2013.Sibongile Ngalwa(gcis photo studio)

Minister of water and environmental affairs Mrs EDNA MOLEWA addressed the media on cabinet approval of the rhino trade proposal for consideration at cities cop17 in 2016 and the national water resource strategy.03/07/2013.Sibongile Ngalwa(gcis photo studio)

Published Jul 4, 2013

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Cape Town - Research has shown that 36.8 percent of purified water destined for urban areas has been lost over the past six years because of leaks, old and failing infrastructure, and poor financial controls by local authorities, among other reasons.

This amounted to 1 580 million cubic metres of water a year, valued at some R11-billion and equivalent to nearly two thirds of the 2.5bn cubic metre total capacity of the Vaal Dam.

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But measures are being introduced to deal with this, including the funding of R4.3bn to improve municipal water infrastructure.

This was revealed at a media briefing on Wednesday by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and her acting director-general Trevor Balzer, where they explained the Second National Water Resources Strategy approved by cabinet last week.

The strategy is the legal instrument for implementing the National Water Act and is binding on authorities and institutions who implement this act.

Molewa said new challenges had emerged since the first strategy had been published in 2004 and many changes had occurred in the water sector – “changes that require new thinking and innovation”. These included security of supply, environmental degradation and resource pollution, as well as the inefficient use of water.

“Water is a key driver of socio-economic growth and development. As such, this strategy seeks to propel us towards the achievement and attainment of an inclusive, sustainable and equitable economy.”

Molewa said recent research on lost or so-called “non-revenue” water, by the Water Research Commission, was “of great concern for a country that is water-stressed such as ours”.

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“It is encouraging to note that some municipalities and other water services authorities have begun to address the issue of water losses. The (new strategy) emphasises that efforts must be intensified with specific targets set to reduce preventable water loss.”

Balzer said a study assessing the long-term water requirements of the just over 900 water schemes for local authorities in the country had shown that 30 percent were already “in distress”. Efforts would be concentrated on these 273, including problem areas such as Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga.

Molewa and Balzer also revealed:

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l Some 4 000 applications for water licences had been dealt with in the past 18 months and just over 300 were outstanding.

l Some 39 mines were still operating without water licences but these were being dealt with.

l The Lesotho Highlands Water Project phase 2 would come on stream in August 2020.

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l Funds were available and pumps to deal with acid mine drainage in the Gauteng area would be operational before this contaminated water reached critical level.

l Fracking had been declared a “controlled activity” for water use and full details of any proposed fracking would have to be sent to the department before drilling. - Cape Argus

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