Cape drought caught us napping‚ minister tells indaba on water crisis

16 May 2017 - 14:15 By Aphiwe Deklerk
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane. File photo
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane. File photo

The country may have underestimated the drought crisis crippling the Western Cape‚ Water Affairs and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane admitted on Tuesday.

Responding to questions during the Western Cape Water Security Indaba held in Rawsonville‚ near Worcester‚ the minister said the country was “overwhelmed” by the drought.

“The fact of the matter was‚ there were plans to deal with the drought but nobody actually expected the magnitude of the problem that we are faced with‚” she said.

However‚ critics should not be harsh on government and claim that nothing had been done.

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Mokonyane said the drought presented an opportunity for a national water master plan‚ which would be informed by lessons learnt during the drought.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille urged South Africans to find solutions to the drought as they did during the electricity load-shedding crisis.

Zille said the country was now one of the leaders in green energy because of the initiatives.

She said if there were no innovations‚ the country would be sending a message to the world that it was not the right place to do business.

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Zille also called for the country to stop using drinking water to flush toilets. “We need to explore the possibility of changing regulations or policies on how we use water in sanitation‚” she said.

“South Africa is one of the very few countries in the world where people are able to flush clean drinking water down the toilet.”

Zille called for dual reticulation systems to be implemented in new developments so drinking water was not used to to flush toilets.