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Experts: Paradigm shift needed if SA is to avoid CT water crisis

Accentuate chief executive Fred Platt says water must be seen as an economic enabler.

FILE: Cape Town residents collecting water at the Newlands springs in Cape Town. Picture: Bertram Malgas/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Water experts have called for a major paradigm shift in the way the resource is managed if the country is to avoid a crisis like what is being experienced in Cape Town.

The National Press Club has hosted a panel on the Cape Town water crisis which looked at the current state and considered solutions.

Water expert Anthony Turton identified three ways to change the way water is managed and sourced.

“Firstly, we have to look at the recycling of water from waste. Secondly, the removal of salt from water, where appropriate, and thirdly, the conjunctive use of groundwater.”

Accentuate chief executive Fred Platt says water must be seen as an economic enabler.

“Day Zero has been building up in Cape Town and in many other cities and inhibiting development for a very long time. The cost of not having water far outweighs the cost of providing sustainable water.”

Experts say the water crisis could be eased considerably if the City of Cape Town would simply recover the resource from sewage.

Day zero in the Mother City has been pushed back to 11 May, with dam levels in the catchment areas at 23.7%.

Turton says South Africa has not implemented technology to recover clean water from sewage.

“Let’s look at the City of Cape Town with four million people, we can potentially 400 megalitres of water a day. At the moment, they are surviving on five megalitres a day.”

Discussing the economic impact of day zero, Platt warns the availability of water directly affects numerous government programmes.

“Any form of development, whether it’s infrastructure or business development… it is driven by water.”

Platt has proposed the creation of a water war room to address the ongoing challenges being faced in a water scarce country.

Forecast drawdown from dams in the coming months as Cape Town faces a water crisis.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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