City in attempt to decrease water usage
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’