City in at­tempt to de­crease wa­ter us­age

The Star Early Edition - - METRO WATCH -

THE threat of wa­ter short­age in the coun­try is no longer in the near fu­ture, but it’s now a re­al­ity we have to live with and ad­dress to­day, says the City of Joburg’s mem­ber of the may­oral com­mit­tee (MMC) for fi­nance, Ra­belani Da­gada.

Re­cently, the Western Cape has been de­clared a dis­as­ter area with the prospects of the wa­ter taps run­ning com­pletely dry. The Western Cape gov­ern­ment is work­ing tire­lessly to try to avert “Day Zero” – the day on which the taps run com­pletely dry, he says.

“The cur­rent drought, which be­gan al­most two years ago, is said to be the worst in 35 years, this is ac­cord­ing to the South African In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs. In the course of the se­vere drought, more prov­inces were de­clared dis­as­ter ar­eas.”

How did we move so quickly from wa­ter re­stric­tions in less than a year to Day Zero? asked the MMC.

This re­quires the gov­ern­ment to move with speed in deal­ing with the chal­lenges of wa­ter.

“Hardly a year ago, Gaut­eng res­i­dents got a rude awak­en­ing when mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, in­clud­ing the City of Joburg, were forced to im­ple­ment wa­ter re­stric­tions. This was in a bid to curb ex­ces­sive wa­ter us­age as the drought per­sisted.

“Dam lev­els, in­clud­ing the In­te­grated Vaal River Sys­tem, which sup­plies in­dus­tries and peo­ple in Gaut­eng, were drop­ping at an alarm­ing rate, threat­en­ing the prov­ince’s econ­omy.”

Dur­ing the re­cent bud­get speech, says Da­gada, which he tabled and was sub­se­quently passed by the coun­cil, he pleaded with coun­cil­lors that, given the scarcity of wa­ter in Joburg, the huge in­equal­ity in the city, and mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vice back­logs, it was in res­i­dents’ best in­ter­est for the city to take away free ba­sic wa­ter to all res­i­dents. This move would al­low the city to give free ba­sic wa­ter only to those who need it the most, the poor peo­ple of the city.

“A lot of our clean wa­ter is lost through leaks, wastage and il­le­gal con­nec­tions. Sta­tis­tics show the in­ter­na­tional av­er­age wa­ter us­age per day is 173 litres, while South Africans use 61.8% more wa­ter than the world av­er­age.

“I’m pleased that the coun­cil voted for the bud­get, which would en­sure that, de­pend­ing on the house­hold in­come, the poor­est mem­bers of our so­ci­ety will re­ceive an in­crease of be­tween 10 and 15 kilo­litres of free wa­ter a month.

“Through this, the city will be able to gen­er­ate an es­ti­mated R320 mil­lion more in rev­enue, which will be ploughed back into com­mu­ni­ties for bet­ter ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture. It will help to bring wa­ter and elec­tric­ity ser­vices to com­mu­ni­ties that have never had them be­fore,” he adds.

“Our re­cently passed bud­get works to strike a bal­ance by en­sur­ing that the poor re­ceive free ba­sic wa­ter, that those who ex­ces­sively waste wa­ter con­tinue to pay at a higher rate; and safe­guard­ing wa­ter as a scarce re­source and creat­ing a cul­ture of wa­ter con­ser­va­tion through our tar­iff struc­ture.”

‘A lot of our clean wa­ter lost through leaks’

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