Thursday, March 20, 2008

South Africa: Water conservation is imperative for our future

AllAfrica, a piece by Gabi Khumalo from BuaNews (Tshwane): Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, Lindiwe Hendricks has urged the public to save water and electricity as these were scarce resources that needed to be protected and conserved for future generations. The minister was speaking at the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Eskom on Wednesday. The agreement on water efficiency in the power sector is aimed at building and strengthening a partnership with Eskom and will contribute to improved water security for the country.

Ms Hendricks said a culture of water conservation as well as energy saving is an imperative for our country. "We need to change the culture of wasteful use of these resources."

Touching on the issue of global warming, the minister said the reality of climate change caused by the continued and unsustainable release of greenhouse gases is evident through the increased floods, storms, and cyclones, which for the past few years have been experienced in many parts of the world, including our neighbouring countries. She called for urgent action by leaders across the globe. "For us in the water sector we are particularly concerned about the impact it will have on our water resources whether it is worse droughts, higher temperatures, or harder heavier rain when it does rain," said Minister Hendricks.

She added that in other countries climate change has brought about extended droughts and higher temperatures. South Africa cannot afford to be complacent because the country has a good infrastructure and recently had had good rainfall.

"There is a guarantee of long-term water security. South Africa is already a water scarce country and cannot afford to waste water. We can not allow people to take more than their allocation, nor can we allow people to use water unlawfully."

She further stressed that the electricity crisis should teach the water sector of the need to ensure that Water Conservation and Water Demand Management programmes are high up on the agenda and are comprehensively implemented. All water users have to embed water conservation as an essential part of their day to day life, Ms Hendricks said.

She also announced a reconciliation study completed by the department on water availability and requirements for the Integrated Vaal River System which supplies over 60 percent of water requirements of Gauteng Province. The study identified the need to have an additional dam to service the province but also highlighted that Water Conservation and Water Demand Management are extremely important, most cost effective and reliable option for us to expend the budget. "Dams are extremely expensive to build and by implementing improved water conservation measures not only do we contribute to environmental sustainability but also help to delay the date by when we need to start constructing the next water scheme," the minister emphasised.

Map of South Africa, CIA Factbook, Wikimedia Commons

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