South Africa would spend R30-billion over the next five to eight years on continuing construction and establishing 15 mega water-infrastructure projects.
Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said on Wednesday that these projects would increase the capacity of existing water resources infrastructure to provide water to strategic installations such as the energy sector, the industrial sector, and the mining sector, as well as for domestic purposes.
“Additional infrastructure programmes include an accelerated programme for the construction of the De Hoop dam, the continued partnership with the government of Lesotho for the implementation of the proposed phase two of the Lesotho Highlands water project, implementation of the project to augment supply of water to Lephalale for use by Eskom and other petrochemical industries,” she stated.
Sonjica stated that the country could not afford an uncoordinated programme of blue-sky water-thirsty projects. “We need to be prudent in the management of this resource since the primary source is rainfall which cannot be guaranteed by decree. Having said that, we are working hard to ensure that there is security of supply to provide water for the growth of our economy as well as social development.”
She stated that it was for this reason that the department has come up with a framework that would ensure that the country’s water resources were managed sustainably, to meet future demands.
Within the context of this strategy, the department was embarking on several programmes, which would look at the diversification of the water mix, ensuring that the country explored other sources of supply, such as desalination of sea water in coastal areas, and strengthening effluent reuse.
The department would also intensify public awareness about the value of water, and would aim to conserve water by curbing water losses by at least 20% by 2014.
Further, the department would avail water to support a pilot rural development programme in Limpopo.
“We are already in discussion with the Deputy Minister of Forestry, Agriculture and Fisheries regarding the role of agriculture as a major water user in our economy. Our aim is to rationalise water use and ensure equity of distribution,” said Sonjica.
“We are also looking closely at the issue of single purpose dams which are located within communities who have no ready access to water. We have completed a study in Taung. We are ready to commission the dam so it can benefit the communities. We will do this throughout the country where such problems exist.”