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Water dept to unveil ‘master plan’ to deal with water crisis

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu assured the country the current water shortage was receiving the highest level of attention from government.

Minister of Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu (centre) briefs the media on Gauteng's water crisis on 28 October 2019 in Johannesburg. Picture: @DWS_RSA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said her department would introduce a number of initiatives, including alternative sources of supply, in a bid to conserve water in the country.

On Monday, Sisulu assured the country that the current water shortage was receiving the highest level of attention from the government.

*Sisulu warns SA to use water sparingly or risk worsening situation

She gave an update on the situation and its immediate impact on consumers.

Sisulu said her department would be announcing what she's described as a “master plan” that would address the current water challenges in the country.

“We’ve got to test the technology we’re using and then be able to put it out there.”

The minister said her department would look into affordable ways of conserving water.

“We’re also trying to find alternative sources of water, as we’re highly dependent on rain or dam water. There are other sources to get water.”

She added that she would unveil her plan in November.

WATCH: Water Minister says South Africa is experiencing water stress

LESOTHO AS A SOURCE OF WATER

Sisulu said Lesotho remained a secure source of water despite low dam levels in the landlocked country.

She said she was confident that the Lesotho Highlands Project would meet Gauteng residents' high demand.

However, the department revealed that the Katse Dam is currently at 13% while the Mohale Dam is limited to 32% due to the ongoing drought.

Sisulu said the highlands project, which forms part of the Vaal integrated water system, was expected to return to full operation by November following routine maintenance.

“We do depend on the Lesotho Highlands scheme because it has sustained us for so long. It’s a guaranteed source of water. We wouldn’t go into phase two if we were not confident about their abilities to produce water.”

NO RELIEF IN WC

Meanwhile, the Western Cape Environmental Affairs Department said there was no relief following recent rainfall.

The latest average dam level for the province is currently at 65%.

Environmental Affairs MEC spokesperson James-Brent Styan said: “We continue to urge people to use water sparingly. We hope to see further increases in water as the water flows into the dams in the coming days.”

The department has also welcomed the release of R50 million for emergency drought relief in the province.