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SA's water situation 'serious but under control': Lindiwe Sisulu

28 October 2019 - 15:29 By NOMAHLUBI JORDAAN
The Gamka Dam during the drought in the Karoo. File photo.
The Gamka Dam during the drought in the Karoo. File photo.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

Water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu says the country must brace for a long dry season, and urged consumers to do "whatever we can to save water".

Sisulu, speaking at a media briefing on Monday at the Rand Water offices in Johannesburg, said the country was experiencing water scarcity accompanied by high temperatures.

"We can't alter the climate system. We must do whatever we can to save water," she said, adding that weather conditions were expected to get warmer and dryer.

"Rainfall is becoming harder to predict. The drought season is intense. The earliest we can experience rain is in December," said Sisulu.

The Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Gauteng were among the provinces experiencing water shortages, she said.

Sisulu said there was no need to panic but called on consumers to be "prudent" and use water sparingly.

"The situation is very serious but it is under control. Before we get to a drought situation please use water sparingly."

Sisulu said her department and stakeholders had come up with a master plan to deal with the water situation. This she said, would be announced in November.

The department needed R800m to deal with the Emfuleni municipality's water crisis, said department of water and sanitation Gauteng head Sibusiso Mthembu.

"We are waiting in anticipation that we may hear some good news," he said.

Rand Water chief executive Sipho Mosai said water consumption had risen.

"We've observed that water consumption has shot up," he said.

He said Rand Water had to implement water restrictions as appeals to the public to use water sparingly appeared to be falling on deaf ears.

"Water consumption has gone up because people are not using water for the purpose it is intended. People are using water to feed pools and for gardening."

He said water should only be used for drinking, bathing and cooking.

"If you water your garden, use a bucket. Reduce the amount of time in the shower. Two minutes is enough."

IFP MP Xolani Ngwezi, the party's spokesperson on human settlements and water and sanitation, welcomed Sisulu's plea to all to save water and use it sparingly.

However, he said: "We firmly believe our water woes cannot only be blamed on weather and changes within our climate. Corruption, a lack of water management and a crisis in infrastructure and skills must be addressed."

He said the devastating effects of the drought had severely hurt the economy.

"We can ill afford the effects of a water crisis as it would impact life and food security and see the collapse of job-creating sectors in our country."