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Mokonyane: SA's water issue in crisis by virtue of its geographic make-up

Nomvula Mokonyane says over 170 water schemes in the country are currently affected by the drought.

FILE: A resident collects water from a river in the Marry Me informal settlement in Pretoria. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says more than 170 water schemes in the country are currently affected by the drought.

South Africa has approximately 1,600 water schemes made up of dams of all sizes.

Mokonyane says small dams have run completely dry in some areas a situation she says may be the worst since the 1960s.

The Water and Sanitation Department has called on municipalities across the country to encourage controlled water use.

The minister says the country is in a crisis by virtue of its geographic make-up.

"Have we reached a crisis? There has always been a crisis in terms of water availability, we are water scarce."

The average dam capacity in Gauteng stands at 84 percent, 70 percent in the Western Cape and just 58 percent in KwaZulu-Natal.

Farmers in parts of the country have already started applying for drought relief.

Mokonyane says KwaZulu-Natal in particular is facing its lowest water levels in nearly 33 years.