'Government has known about, ignored impending water crisis'

A water management professor accused government of 'folding its arms and watching the crisis unfold'.

It’s not clear how the water restrictions will be implemented or when they will begin to affect customers. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - While the Water Affairs Department says it remains concerned about declining dam levels, a water management professor has accused government of simply folding its arms and watching the crisis unfold.

Last week, the department issued a notice to some big metros and municipalities, ordering them to cut down water usage in urban areas by 15 percent and irrigation usage by 20 percent.

It's not clear how the restrictions will be implemented or when they will begin to affect customers.

Professor Anthony Turton claims government has known for the longest time about the impending crisis but has chosen not to do anything.

"The first thing is the failing instrumentation that has been unable to warn government that this is coming; but secondly, once government knew about it, they didn't act in anyway until such time the elections went by."

He says, over and above the water crisis, municipalities are still allowing too much water wastage.

"Just the leaking pipes in municipalities lose about 40 percent of the water flowing through municipal systems - in some places, up to 60 percent."

Turton says municipalities are likely to implement the government order through the implementation of tariffs, by-laws or the reduction of water pressure in certain areas.

The department insists the current water shortages are because of the drought, and could not have been planned for or avoided.

To read the full statement on the new water restrictions, click here.