World Water Day: Making the ‘invisible visible’, calls for the conservation of groundwater

Cape Town - Dripping water from a tap in Dunoon. The City of Cape Town has urged people to save water. Picture Cindy Waxa/Reporter ANA

Cape Town - Dripping water from a tap in Dunoon. The City of Cape Town has urged people to save water. Picture Cindy Waxa/Reporter ANA

Published Mar 22, 2022


Cape Town - Since 1993, every March 22, the world celebrates World Water Day, which raises awareness of the 2 billion people living without access to safe water.

This year, the focus is on protecting and conserving groundwater, with the theme “invisible, visible”. Anton Bredell, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning has joined the calls for the public to sparingly use this hidden water resource.

As traditional sources for bulk water supply are coming under increasing pressure, there has been increased pressure on groundwater reserves to help with water supply.

“South Africa is a water-scarce country, and to avoid another ‘Day Zero’ scenario, there needs to be a shift in the way we think about groundwater. It is not an endless supply that we can tap into. We also need to protect groundwater from pollution resulting from burying waste and discharging pollutants into the soil such as pesticides and commercial fertilisers,” he said.

The minister says that South Africans need to rethink their relationship with water and learn from countries like Israel and Australia, which lead the globe on water conservation. Sound water conservation tactics and cutting-edge technology have put them ahead of the pack when it comes to only using what is necessary.

“That is why the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) developed a Sustainable Water Management Plan, which focuses on strategies to optimise our water usage, and pays attention to groundwater use, water reclamation through the re-use of effluent from wastewater treatment plants, as well as the optimisation of desalination,” Bredell said.

Wilna Kloppers, director for Pollution and Chemicals Management at the DEA&DP, also called for the protection and management of groundwater.

“Groundwater is a very special resource that should be protected and managed holistically, which is why we look at water-sensitive urban design interventions to recharge our groundwater and help prevent and filter groundwater pollution.”

The Department of Water and Sanitation says that many of South Africa’s indigenous communities rely on groundwater for their survival and with about 320 towns also depending on groundwater. It also expressed that the protection of the resource “is significant to help achieve equitable water for all by 2030 and beyond”.