R300m set aside for drought disaster zones

Water Affairs Minister says the country must start using more groundwater.

FILE: Over R300 million has been set aside for the implementation of relief strategies. Picture: Screengrab/CNN.

CAPE TOWN - Water Affairs and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says the country must start using more groundwater.

Several province are in the grips of a severe drought with the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal being declared disaster areas.

Mokonyane says less than 30 percent of the groundwater currently available is being utilised.

"South Africa over time has undermined the value of groundwater, and what we definitely need to do is to use science information that shows that there is still an opportunity to explore groundwater."

Mokonyane says South Africa's poor water usage habits are finally showing its effects.

She says the country is facing a crisis by virtue of the fact that it is a water-scarce land.

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

Over R300 million has been set aside for the implementation of relief strategies.


The City of Cape Town plans to expand its wastewater treatment network in a bid to reduce pressure on local dams.

The municipality says it is re-using more than six percent of the effluent that passes through its treatment plants for irrigation purposes.

The city's Ernest Sonnenberg said, "Treated effluent is not drinkable. It is wastewater which has gone through a process in which all of the bacteria has been killed off. The City of Cape Town would use it to irrigate all its parks that it has. Wherever normally we would have used water, we are now using treated effluent."

LISTEN: Water shortages in Johannesburg increasing, while rainfall is scarce


As the department prepares to implement drought relief strategies, it says only government will handle the allocation of water tankers.

Mokonyane says no tenders will be allocated for the delivery of water to drought stricken areas to avoid the exploitation of a crisis for financial gain.

The department is currently in the process of buying 45 x 18,000 litre tankers.

Mokonyane says government will handle the procurement and delivery of water tankers as it can't afford to have greed and corruption compromise interventions.

The delivery of water tankers has already begun in KwaZulu-Natal's small towns and rural villages where dams are now completely dry.

There are renewed calls for responsible water use.