CityPress - - Sport -

Across Gaut­eng’s 10 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, an av­er­age of 26% of drink­able wa­ter is lost due to leak­ing pipes, waste­ful prac­tices and ail­ing in­fra­struc­ture. This con­cern­ing statis­tic, cou­pled with the fur­ther stress that drought and cli­mate change is adding to South Africa’s wa­ter sit­u­a­tion, has prompted Gaut­eng to launch the #SaveWater cam­paign.

It forms part of an ag­gres­sive gov­ern­ment drive to en­cour­age long-term be­havioural change in how mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions and mem­bers of the pub­lic use this scarce re­source, par­tic­u­larly in light of the poor rains and soar­ing tem­per­a­tures that much of the coun­try is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

The wa­ter-sav­ing cam­paign was launched by Gaut­eng MEC for Co­op­er­a­tive Gover­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs and Hu­man Set­tle­ments Ja­cob Mam­abolo last month, with the back­ing of the Gaut­eng Water and San­i­ta­tion Fo­rum.

#SaveWater is a six-pil­lar, mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion cam­paign to ed­u­cate Gaut­eng com­mu­ni­ties about sav­ing wa­ter and mak­ing small but sig­nif­i­cant changes to their daily habits to en­sure there is enough wa­ter for cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. This in­cludes:

In­ten­si­fy­ing the de­tec­tion and re­pair of wa­ter leaks at mu­nic­i­pal level; En­cour­ag­ing res­i­dents to har­vest rain­wa­ter in tanks; Up­grad­ing wa­ter-pump­ing ca­pac­ity and in­fra­struc­ture;

En­sur­ing an un­in­ter­rupted wa­ter sup­ply to es­sen­tial ser­vices fa­cil­i­ties like hos­pi­tals;

Bring­ing Eskom on board to en­sure that Rand Water’s pump­ing fa­cil­i­ties are not af­fected by power out­ages or load shed­ding; and

Ed­u­cat­ing com­mu­ni­ties on how to use wa­ter ef­fi­ciently and spar­ingly.

The MEC and his team have em­barked on a prov­ince-wide blitz to ob­serve the sit­u­a­tion on the ground first-hand and to hand out pam­phlets on proper wa­ter use.

They were shocked at what they found dur­ing a re­cent walk­a­bout in the Em­fu­leni Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, one of the three lo­cal coun­cils mak­ing up the Sed­ibeng District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity in Van­der­bi­jl­park. “There were mas­sive wa­ter leak­ages. “In one case, it was so bad that res­i­dents of a stu­dent com­plex had to put down planks and bricks to get in and out of their homes,” said Mam­abolo.

“We also wit­nessed huge in­flows of wa­ter pol­lu­tion into the Vaal river sys­tem, of which Em­fu­leni is a big pol­luter.

“The prob­lem there is poor in­fra­struc­ture and they need to in­stall new wa­ter pipes. But we have also been go­ing door to door, seek­ing to con­sci­en­tise peo­ple about how to save wa­ter – par­tic­u­larly, how to har­vest rain­wa­ter.”

This forms a ma­jor part of the #SaveWater cam­paign: en­cour­ag­ing Gaut­eng res­i­dents to in­vest in a rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing sys­tem, such as a JoJo tank, for their house­holds.

Th­ese tanks catch rain­wa­ter and store it for non-potable (non-drink­able) house­hold uses, such as wa­ter­ing the gar­den, flush­ing toi­lets, wash­ing clothes and cars, and top­ping up swim­ming pools.

The prov­ince is also urg­ing pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions such as schools, clin­ics, po­lice sta­tions and li­braries to in­stall these tanks.

Mam­abolo em­pha­sised that #SaveWater is not a once-off cam­paign to ad­dress the cur­rent wa­ter scarcity, but is part of a long-term vi­sion to in­stil wa­ter-wise habits in all lev­els of so­ci­ety.

“His­tor­i­cally in South Africa, peo­ple have not fully un­der­stood the im­por­tance of us­ing wa­ter wisely,” he ex­plained.

“The need to con­serve wa­ter hasn’t re­ally been brought to peo­ple’s at­ten­tion – we’ve been be­hav­ing like a coun­try with lots of wa­ter. But we need to start ap­pre­ci­at­ing wa­ter as a scarce re­source and a source of life be­cause the re­al­i­ties are now catch­ing up with us. So the pub­lic needs to be ed­u­cated and sen­si­tised about the wa­ter prob­lem.”

Global cli­mate change and the El Niño phe­nom­e­non, which are re­sult­ing in ris­ing global tem­per­a­tures, are com­pound­ing and con­tribut­ing to the cur­rent scorch­ing, drought-like con­di­tions over much of the coun­try.

Eva­po­ra­tion from the vast sur­face of the Vaal Dam, the source of Gaut­eng’s tap wa­ter, is not help­ing mat­ters.

Mam­abolo also said Gaut­eng’s wa­ter in­fra­struc­ture was not orig­i­nally de­signed with large pop­u­la­tions in mind and did not an­tic­i­pate the in­flux of hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple

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