Plan B to keep water taps running

By Tshepiso Tshabalala Time of article published Oct 11, 2021

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South Africa is facing a water shortage crisis and some utilities are resorting to scheduled water cuts to cope with the demand for the scarce resource.

According to a statement released from Rand Water, last week, South Africa is ranked as one of the driest countries in the world and the country continues to be among the highest consumers of clean water despite its limited availability.

This has put immense strain on the water systems and prompted Rand Water to implement water reductions to slow the high consumption levels.

“Rand Water has over the years communicated with its customers the need to reduce consumption and water wastages. The hot summer months present a persisting challenge where usage of water goes up due to behavioural patterns inconsistent with the country’s water scarcity,” read the statement.

The water supply utility urged the public to use water wisely as the resource is slowly running out. Rand Water further pleaded with municipalities to immediately attend to the leaks in their reticulation systems and manage the night flows through reservoir management protocols.

However, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) said the dam levels across the country are currently higher than they were in the last two years, and as of last week, the national water level is 78,5%, which is much higher compared to when the water levels were at 64,5% this time last year.

“The dam levels as they stand give confidence that coupled with conservative use of the resource, the country can remain water secure. This does not take away that there are still areas in some provinces that remain a cause for concern as they remain with deep impacts of continuing drought effects,” said Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson for the DWS.

In addition, the department said it remains seized with the constitutional mandate to ensure the security of water supply to the entire country.

“The National Water and Sanitation Master Plan of the DWS speaks to what is required to ensure such security of supply in the longest terms, including working even more closely with the private sector,” added Ratau.

Meanwhile, the South African Weather Service said the country is likely to experience more rain in the next two weeks and these rains may result in floods in most parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.

There is a likelihood that these rains may help alleviate the water shortage that the country is experiencing at present as they would refill dams across the country.

Kevin Rae, Chief Forecaster at the South African Weather Service, said: “Over the last 3 to 4 years, you would recall the drought condition which affected the Western Cape (and the associated “Day Zero” crisis). Thankfully, much rain has occurred in the interim over the Western Cape, especially during the most recent winter months and many, if not most of the dams providing water to the Western Cape, are now close to full capacity.

“Similarly, we may recall that parts of Limpopo, as well as North West and KZN, were recently (within the past 12-24 months) being affected by localised drought conditions. The arrival of tropical cyclone Eloise earlier this year, heralded a period of good, widespread rainfall over the eastern half of Southern Africa, bringing critical drought relief to the aforementioned provinces.”

Rae added that though some provinces have had drought relief, drought continues to affect much of the interior of the Northern Cape, despite good rains.

Sunday Independent

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