Water crisis needs all of us to solve it

23 November 2015 - 02:09 By Yonela Diko, Western Cape

South Africa is facing water shortages after the worst drought since 1992 has cut dam levels by 12% as most of the country enters its four-month dry season. Seef Rademeyer, chief engineer in the Department of Water and Sanitation, says 11 of the 19 water management sectors in the country were under stress.This means that water has to be taken from other areas to supply these.The country would have to start recycling all of its water if it was to survive, he said.South Africa receives 48 billion cubic metres of rainfall every year, the water available in our dams is 38 billion cubic metres, and the demand will be 63 billion cubic metres by 2035.To meet demand, available water would have to be recycled 1.6 times."Our dams also need to be desludged to maximise capacity... Hazelmere Dam is said to be 37% full, but that is not true because about 15% is sludge," said an environmental expert.Mike Muller, a member of the National Planning Commission, says Gauteng actually ran out of water 70 years ago.Since then it has made up the difference by importing water from as far as Lesotho, at huge expense.Despite this, South Africans still use 235 litres of water each a day compared to the international average of 173 litres, pushing the country into a water crisis.KwaZulu-Natal is the worst affected, with dam levels down by 17.5%.Reserves in North West and the Free State are 14.6% and 10.7% lower than last year respectively, Water Affairs statistics show.A report released in 2013 noted that about 36.8% of water used brought in no revenue - 25.4% was lost to leaks - so fixing pipelines would make it less urgent to build new dams.Water is now a key economic business risk discussed in boardrooms.It is time to change our ways and save some water for our grandchildren.

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