NEWS & ANALYSIS

Water crisis is an opportunity – Office of the WCape Premier

Zille says South Africa can emerge as the fastest-growing water economy in the world

Premier Zille says water crisis is an opportunity to emerge as fastest-growing water economy in the world

16 May 2017

Premier Helen Zille has told the Western Cape Water Security Indaba that South Africa can emerge as the fastest growing water economy in the World.

She was speaking today at the gathering in Goudini, Worcester, which was held in partnership with the national Department of Water and Sanitation.

National Minster of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane, Deputy Minister, Pamela Tshwete and Western Cape Minister Anton Bredell were also in attendance, along with a broad cross-section of representatives from all 3 spheres of government.

Premier Zille encouraged the different spheres of government, businesses and other stakeholders to work together to find innovative solutions in addressing the water crisis – similar to how the 2008 energy crisis had been managed.

“This water crisis – similar to the energy crisis we faced in 2008 – is an opportunity for South Africa to emerge as the fastest growing water economy in the world”, said Premier Zille. “Our innovation however, must be coupled with properly maintaining our current bulk infrastructure, repairing it where necessary and investing in new infrastructure for greater capacity”.

In 2015/16, South Africa recorded its worst drought since 1904 and its impact was felt nationwide.

Premier Zille highlighted the impact of the drought on South Africa’s economy, and especially the Western Cape’s agricultural sector.

“The Agricultural Sector has been hard hit with 200 000 tonnes of wheat lost in the 2015 winter, and a 15% decrease in fruit production in 2015/16. Some 30 000 animals have also been sold due to farmers battling to feed their livestock. Agricultural economists are projecting a R112 million decrease in Gross Value Added in the sector, and a possible drop of 1 728 in the number of available seasonal work opportunities,” said Premier Zille.

A broad range of interventions were being discussed, including tapping into the Table Mountain Aquifer, desalination and water re-use.

Premier Zille also highlighted several crucial interventions, which require cooperation across all spheres, led by national government:

1. Maintenance/Replacement of bulk infrastructure:

- Every year South Africa loses millions of litres of good quality water due to leaks and poor bulk infrastructure.

- Rural municipalities in particular do not have the budget available to cover the extent of water infrastructure upgrades that are required. For example, in Kannaland, at least 50% of the water supply is lost due to leaks – we need to arrest this bleeding.

- It is estimated that R3 billion is required in order to address municipal water infrastructure backlogs in the Western Cape.

2. Extension of Voëlvlei & Clanwilliam Dam walls

- Given that water requirements will exceed the current supply by 2019, we need to create extra capacity in our already existing dams

- The extension of the Voëlvlei and Clanwilliam dam walls would go a long way toward building additional capacity.

3. Behaviour change & Dual Water Systems

- Various options need to be considered around regulations and policies governing the use of water and sanitation for general household or business activities

- South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where people are able to flush clean, drinkable water down the toilet. We lose at least 7.5 litres of good quality water every time we flush the toilet. Dual systems that allow non-portable water to be used for flushing in new developments need to be considered and driven from the top of government.

“There is no doubt, that we are in a race against time, but with the right policies and implementation, we will emerge with the necessary solutions and prevent a possible disaster going forward,” said Premier Zille.

Issued by Michael Mpofu, Spokesperson for Premier Helen Zille, 16 May 2017