National water crisis looms in South Africa

South Africa’s aging water infrastructure is holding the country back from a reliable and secure water supply, says Anja du Plessis, a geography professor at Unisa who specializes in water resources administration.

Talk to 702Du Plessis said the deplorable 64% access to usable water in the country is negatively affected by infrastructure that is more than three decades old and failing.

She said old infrastructure that is not maintained – similar to Eskom’s management – leads to low levels of water supply, as seen in Cape Town and Gqeberha.

South Africa is a water-scarce country and having a functioning infrastructure ensures that the small amount of rain that falls is preserved.

On August 3, Cape Town‘s water and sanitation department advised residents to be more careful with their water use, as current rainfall is significantly lower than last year. former.

This followed a warning from the Water Sanitation Department about deteriorating water supplies in and around the Nelson Mandela Bay area, describing the situation as ‘catastrophic’.

A severe drought in the southern Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, which includes the coastal town of Gqeberha, has nearly drained the reservoirs that supply a third of its 1.3 million people.

Municipal oversight and skills shortages

A recent study found that most municipalities lack the skills and capacity to properly manage water infrastructure in the country, Du Plessis said.

Currently, water management is the responsibility of local municipalities, which are notoriously notorious for mismanaging water administration, she said.

“The Ministry of Water and Sanitation is struggling, and there have been various problems with unfinished water projects. If we live in a perfect world, we should have a private agency that could audit our water resources so we know what we’re up to and can make informed decisions,” Du Plessis said.

Although there are many water supply projects to deal with the current water crisis in Gqeberha and the impending crisis across the country, the government needs to do more, she said.

Du Plessis added that administering water and finding skills to deal with the situation should be the mandate of the national government, not the municipalities.

Operation Vulindela

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana showed progress in the water sector had been made under Operation Vulindlela, which aimed to accelerate the implementation of key growth-enhancing reforms.

Speaking at the release of the initiative’s second quarter report on August 7, Gondongwana said the draft law for the National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency has been finalized and will be released for public comment shortly. .

He said this would enable major investments in the country’s main water resources.

In addition to investments, calls for private sector involvement have been heard, with the establishment of a Water Partnerships Office between the Water and Sanitation Department and the Bank’s Department. Africa to open up private sector participation in water infrastructure and management. .

Gondongwana said additional reforms around water quality monitoring at the municipal level would have a fundamental impact on how the water sector is managed and ensure future water security.

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