Water Commission says current drought was expected

Experts say it’s unclear when the drought will end and behaviors need to be changed to preserve water.

A school girl tries to collect water from a dry puddle in Nongoma, in KwaZulu-Natal, which has been badly affected by the recent drought. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Water Research Commission said the current drought was expected. The commission is hosting a series of information-sharing sessions about the drought that has stricken the country

Experts say it's unclear when the drought will end and behaviours need to be changed to preserve water.

Chief Executive Officer at the commission, Dhesige Naidoo, said, "South Africa generally has severe drought every 15 to 20 years. So the current drought that we're in right now is probably a couple of year late already."

Naidoo said South Africa is currently using about 80 per cent of the dam sites that are available for storage.

"Only move further north this becomes less and less. So SADC as a whole, for example, is currently only using 14 percent of its potential storage capacity in the region as a whole, so the vulnerability ibn the north of us is much higher."

Meanwhile, the Western Cape Government will need at least R60 million to feed livestock as farmers endure a potentially crippling drought.

The province wants certain areas declared as disaster zones.

Agri Western Cape has welcomed government's request to declare parts of the province a disaster zone.

Agri Western Cape's Carl Opperman said, "Especially in the areas where the drought is taking place, where the drought is having devastating effects not only on the farming communities but also the rural economies."

The national government has already declared the North West, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal disaster zones.

That will allow for funds to be released from national government to help municipalities and farmers affected by the water crisis.

Agriculture MEC Alan Winde said, "Initially our costing for the province, just in agriculture, we are looking at about R60 million so it's just under R10 million a month. I don't think we will be able to fund half of that."

At the same time, Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell says they'll also have to get tough on water wastage.

"We will also introduce a step in tariff. People will pay more if they use more water but at the end of the day to carry us through until next year, in the winter season we will need to get the public's buy in to work with the provincial government's disaster ,management centre."