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Water restrictions: SA should heed warning

The wildlife & environment society tells us why we should be concerned about water restrictions.

FILE: Generic tap water. Picture: Freeimages.com.

JOHANNESBURG - While Joburg residents have been told not to panic about possible water restrictions in Gauteng, the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa) says we may want to heed warning by making the necessary lifestyle changes to secure the resource.

Earlier this week, Rand Water issued a notice to residents in Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg warning of low reservoir levels due to minimal rainfall and high temperatures.

Wessa says high levels of water insecurity in SA may have a ripple effect on the country's economy, especially in water based sectors such as agriculture and mining for social development.

"This impending threat to the availability of water should make people start to realise that water does not come from a tap. SA is characterised by high levels of water insecurity and this undermines efforts towards sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction and regional stability."

The organisation maintains that countries with improved access to clean water and sanitation services have an annual economic growth rate of 3.7% compared to 0.1% for those without improved access.

Given the socio-economic challenge for most South African's who do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation, the organisation says those who do should use it responsibly.

WATER SAVING TIPS:

• Reading your water meter to make yourself aware of your monthly water usage.

• Conducting a water audit to determine where you use the most water.

• Fitting water-efficient taps, shower fixtures and dual flush toilet systems in your home.

• Watering your garden through a drip irrigation system and not a sprinkler.

• Installing a greywater system in your home and recycle greywater from your bathroom in your garden.

• Washing your car on a grassed area and not in the driveway.

• Not pouring toxic liquids into your storm water or sewer drains

• Getting involved a local conservation group, such as a Wessa Friends Group, to protect and keep your local river or wetland pollution free

TIPS FOR GOVERNMENT FROM WESSA:

• Government, private sector, civil society and industry to come together to face the challenges in the region. We need to continue working to provide clean water in rural and peri-urban areas that will assist with poverty eradication.

• We need to improve the assurance of water supply for domestic and industrial use, for energy and for food security. Wessa's Water Programme addresses many of these issues through our water projects where we focus on support to government.

• We also need to increasingly combat and control the pollution of streams through industrial and agricultural activities, through salinisation due to over pumping, the drying out of wetlands, the eutrophication of lakes and the proliferation of invasive aquatic plants. These are all human activities that are contributing to water shortages.

• Attention also needs to be given to the management and protection of our groundwater. It is estimated that over 40% of Africans use groundwater as their main source of drinking water, particularly in North and Southern African countries.

• We will need to work on an interregional scale using tools such as Integrated Water Management, which is the management of water quantity and quality, of life in and around the water and the coordination of land and water management, taking all users into account (including nature), now and in the future.