'Households must store water, not waste it'
South Africans are being urged to change their behaviour towards water consumption.
JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Gauteng residents are being urged to change their behaviour towards water consumption and start harvesting the resource in case the taps run dry.
The provincial government, Rand Water and various stakeholders have embarked on a mass campaign to educate the public about the severity of the situation.
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Gauteng may also have to assist neighbouring provinces, some of which have already been declared disaster areas, due to extreme temperatures and no major rainfall.
Human Settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo says many people are not aware that water is scarce and shortages and cuts are a real possibility.
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Mamabolo says this means every household must start harvesting water in tanks and other devices for personal use.
"If there is no water in your area, we will ask if you bought a water tank."
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He says general behaviour also needs to change urgently.
"Some people brush their teeth and leave the water running. We can't have water running."
Essential services will be prioritised in the event that water cuts are implemented in the province.
The Water and Sanitation Department expects the dry season in the Western Cape to continue for at least another another six months.
The province has had low rainfall this past winter with dam levels said to be under strain.
The West Coast and some parts of the Breede River have been described as "moderately" to "extremely" dry.
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The department's Sputnik Ratau says they expect a prolonged dry season.
"It will obviously be a longer and dry season than normal until winter next year. The Western Cape as we know it, is a winter rainfall area."
Ratau says this means people have to be more careful when using water, even in areas not badly affected.
"Even where we are having stable amounts of rainfall, we must always consider that we can always have more of that water being lost to evaporation or to other factors."