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Gov addresses water shortage with new intervention

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Minister of Water and Sanitation,Nomvula Mokonyane Infrastructure news Minister of Water and Sanitation,Nomvula Mokonyane

Department implements interventions

February 08, 2018

Staff Reporter 

Cape Town, South Africa: Interventions such as the bulk infrastructure projects and daily monitoring of dam levels could see “Day Zero” pushed back this year.

This is according to Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

Day Zero is the day when city officials will be forced to cut off the normal water supply to 75% of the city's homes. 

Mokonyane said: “It could be pushed back this year as the department has interventions in place, which include six projects around bulk infrastructure in the Western Cape and the daily monitoring of the dam levels.”

She made these remarks at a joint meeting with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation during this week (February 07, 2018).

Mokonyane also told the committee that Day Zero is a phenomenon in Cape Town which has not been declared by the National Disaster Management Centre.

The committee was as well briefed by the Western Cape Provincial Department of Local Government, Planning and Environment, National Disaster Management Centre, Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen informed the Committee that the Disaster Relief Fund which was allocated to the Western Cape Province in August last year, was only used at 24% by end of December. As of Tuesday, funds spent improved to 40%.

Chairperson for the committee, Mlungisi Johnson said: “This was concerning as inefficiencies and maladministration of funds are not to be tolerated.”

The committee said it will look at policy to review the issue of water licenses and the ownership of dams through a proposed legislation.

“Currently, the Department of Water and Sanitation owns and manages about 330 out of the 5 000 dams in South Africa. It concerns the Committee that 65% of water goes to agriculture whilst 23% is used for domestic consumption.

“As recent as yesterday, water was released by farmers which was viewed ‘as a gift’ to the people when in fact water is a natural resource which must be freely enjoyed by all. The government must look at expropriating the land where the dams are, so that they become national assets,” said Johnson.

Johnson also urged the departments to meet and communicate to the people the extent of the drought and the interventions put in place.

“With climate change we need to do more with less. It is hoped that the discussions at this meeting would be solution-based as the development of desalination plants has come up quite often. The government needs to look at plants such as the one in Ballito in KwaZulu-Natal.

“This plant turns waste water into drinking water. This plant feeds the affluent Zimbali Estate, at a fraction of what a desalination plant costs and must be looked into,” he said.

Municipalities affected by the drought that briefed the committee included the City of Cape Town, Kouga Municipality and Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

AgriSA, African Farmers Association and the South African Institute of Civil Engineering also made representations.

The Minister also informed the committee that the drought is not only prevalent in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape but in other areas of the country as well.

She added that there are some areas in the North West which have not had water in three years.

Following the collection of data from all nine provinces on the drought, the department said it could be declared a national disaster by 14 February this year.

Last modified onThursday, 08 February 2018 17:24