In South Africa, water shortages are a part of our everyday lives. We cannot afford to waste, spoil or mismanage our precious water resources on any level. What makes the current drought even worse, are allegations of mismanagement at a governmental level that is impacting millions of South Africans. What difference does saving a few kiloliters in my home make, through diligence and water watchfulness from the whole family, when the people we have put in power to govern our resources mismanage millions of kiloliters through negligence? We have to be sure our children will still have a water infrastructure to inherit one day, and not a country transformed into a toxic wasteland.
This from Denise Williams from the Citizen dated 10-Dec-2015:
The drought in the country, albeit a meteorological phenomenon has become more of a humanitarian crisis for South Africans because the ANC-led government has failed to address poor water infrastructure sooner, the DA has said.
The majority opposition party has again accused the ANC-led government of failing to act to mitigate the disastrous water crisis.
In a statement, following a media briefing in parliament on Tuesday, DA MP Leon Basson said mismanagement of water infrastructure by the government had brought the country to the “brink of a water crisis”. This was the worst drought since 1992.
“Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, was forced to admit that one third of all waste-water treatment plants are in a critical state. The little water we have is being entirely mismanaged and it is the poor who are suffering most.
“Across the country, dam levels are lower than last year. While the drought may be a meteorological phenomenon, the crisis is one of water infrastructure management exacerbated by low rainfall,” Basson said.
He attributed water scarcity to leakage, commercial losses and unbilled; consumption was exceptionally high.
In the biggest metros losses averaged 40%. The DA-run City of Cape Town that bucked the trend ranked in at a mere 21%, said Basson.
In light of Mokonyane “doing everything she can to obfuscate the failings of the ANC” by not releasing the 2014 state of water infrastructure reports; the DA party has filed an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
Mokonyane had until next week Wednesday to release the report.
The party had undertaken oversight visits to assess the situation in five provinces.
In parts of the North West the Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) were not functioning and sewage was being pumped into a veld where children played. Some residents in the province had been forced to buy water from private boreholes at R100 per week.
In three cities in the Eastern Cape untreated sewerage water was flowing into rivers and into essential water collection points.
In Limpopo the DA has claimed that in Modimolle toxic water went through the WWTW straight into the river; toxic material included condoms, toilet paper and sanitary towels.
DA MP Tarnia Baker said the party first visited Rooiwal in Pretoria in July. It witnessed almost 105 million litres of untreated sewage spilling into the Apies River each day.
“Due to the non-functioning of the sludge plant, sewage sludge is pumped straight onto an adjacent farmland that drains into a large wetland.
“You can see methane gas burning on the adjacent farmland and the dumping of toxic waste in the veld in numerous locations. Sludge pools can be found in the Apies River and boreholes adjacent to the Apies River are polluted with E.coli. Subsequent visits in October and December revealed that nothing has changed.
KwaZulu-Natal has been the worst hit province and tourism the popular travel destination had suffered a blow.
“The St. Lucia estuary, a world heritage site, is highly polluted as a result of a dysfunctional WWTP. Water supply to this area is also very inconsistent, with residents going two to three weeks without water at a time,” said Baker.
Basson proposed that in order to address the humanitarian crisis government needed to, amongst others:
– place the department of water and sanitation under administration;
– developed a specialised unit comprising the SA Police Service and the National Prosecuting Authority to deal with water pollution; and
– prioritise legislation to amend the National Water Act to allow for the withdrawal of water use licenses if minimum standards and requirements were not met; and Mokonyane fast track the recycling of water.
“It is imperative that action be taken to safeguard future generations and the DA has shown that it can be done,” said Basson.