Gauteng and NW Province

Water crisis by 2020

SIPHO MASONDO

South Africa faces a water crisis and could start having critical shortages as early as 2020, experts told the inaugural South African Water and Energy Forum in Johannesburg.

Former Water Affairs director- general and visiting professor at the Wits University Graduate School of Public and Development Management Mike Muller told delegates that “a crisis is looming … If we don’t panic now and take action now, we will be in a crisis by 2020.”

Metropolitan municipalities including eThekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay, and the City of Johannesburg, will be the first to be hit by shortages.

The shortages, Muller said, will largely be due to water demand outstripping supply, and to a lesser extent by poor water quality as municipal infrastructure deteriorates.

Other contributing factors include leaking pipes and the theft of water for agricultural purposes by farmers along the Vaal River.

“Good water management is very important for growth and development,” said Muller.

“South Africa will not run out of water, but the next drought will see supply cuts. New work must start now.”

He urged the government and municipalities to start building water infrastructure immediately.

Business Leadership South Africa CEO Michael Spicer said South Africa had sophisticated legislation and institutions, but was failing to implement those pieces of legislation.

SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Neren Rau said the crisis was “now”.

“Government has to take the lead. We don’t believe this is being taken seriously.”

Times Live

14 February, 2011

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