South Africa: Gauteng Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs On Water Conservation

With the water levels in the Vaal River system only standing at an alarming 27% as of last night, Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs together with the Department of Water and Sanitation and Rand Water is establishing a Joint Operational Centre (JOC) in the province.

The purpose of the JOC is to plan around and improve the state of readiness for any form of contingency in the wake of the steady decrease of water levels in the province. It will also be responsible for issues such as the monitoring of water levels, monitoring of water restrictions and any form of disaster management associated with the water crisis currently experienced in the province.

The sweltering heat and the lack of sufficient rainfall across the province pose an imminent danger of even worse water scarcity and calls for drastic saving measures by each and every water user.

“If we are to secure enough water for each citizen amidst this very real water crisis, we need to pull together and do every bit we can to save and preserve our water resources in our province”, said MEC Paul Mashatile.

The MEC’s warning comes nearly two months after the Department of Water and Sanitation gazetted the implementation of water restrictions for the Integrated Vaal River System that largely affects water users in Gauteng. These restrictions included the 15% reduction of consumption by domestic users and 20% reduction for irrigation users.

The above restrictions were intended to reduce water use and manage demand across the Rand Water supply area.

The Vaal River System is currently at an average dam level of 27% capacity. This is the total average for the 14 dams that supply the system. The Vaal Dam in particular, is losing water levels at an increasing rate of 1 %, every week.

In reality, a combination of weather patterns, insufficient rainfall and not nearly enough responsible water usage by water users across the province, are all indications that we may reach a level of 25% in the next two weeks, should we fail to see a reduction in water use and consumption. This will trigger the next level of interventions that may mean that we will have to increase the percentage of water restrictions across the board.

The municipalities have been in the forefront of this campaign and coupled with the early detection repairs of broken pipes and leaking taps that account for massive loss of water, the ability of our communities to effect requisite measures will ensure that the intended restrictions are kept to the minimum.

Simple steps by water users can make significant strides in saving and preserving water supplies. Harvesting of rainwater, taking of shorter showers instead of baths, fixing of leaking taps, reducing the frequency of car washes and avoiding garden irrigation are only but a few examples of responsible water usage that will ultimately determine the future of water availability in the province.

“Gauteng may very well be declared a water disaster area if no drastic measures are put into effect as a matter of urgency. To avoid this dire situation, water users are urged to be responsible and this include changing their attitudes and behaviour and reporting non-compliant users whilst municipalities need to be more responsive in repairing and maintain the water infrastructure”, MEC Mashatile concluded.

Source: South African Government