Change at­ti­tude to­wards wa­ter use

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Andile Tshona

DUR­ING a chilly day at the Birch­wood Ho­tel in Boks­burg re­cently, Marisa Ger­ards, the Nether­lands am­bas­sador to South Africa pro­claimed: “You will never know the value of wa­ter un­til the world is dry”.

This was dur­ing the Wa­ter Valu­ing Re­gional Con­sul­ta­tion, a UN High Level Panel on Wa­ter ini­tia­tive.

I may not be far off to as­sume that most Capeto­ni­ans, if not all dwellers of the West­ern Cape, echo her pro­found sen­ti­ments. This is more par­tic­u­larly now that the prov­ince has been de­clared a Dis­as­ter Area and due to the calami­tous sit­u­a­tion there – Level 4 of wa­ter re­stric­tions hav­ing been in­tro­duced. This means res­i­dents are not al­lowed to wa­ter their gar­dens, wash ve­hi­cles or top up swim­ming pools with potable wa­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, the City of Cape Town is in dis­cus­sions with mag­is­trates about a new fines struc­ture.

Eye Wit­ness News re­ported that may­oral com­mit­tee mem­ber for wa­ter and waste ser­vices Xanthea Lim­berg said they had hired ad­di­tional staff for its wa­ter in­spec­torate.

“They will be go­ing out and do­ing the en­force­ment. We are work­ing on fur­ther ca­pac­i­tat­ing our call cen­tre and wa­ter work team and have al­lo­cated ini­tial staff there.”

Lim­berg said the city was aim­ing to re­duce col­lec­tive us­age from 666 mil­lion litres per day to 500 mil­lion.

On av­er­age, South Africans are no­to­ri­ous for us­ing 340 litres of wa­ter daily which is more than the global av­er­age. This is de­spite the fact that South Africa is ranked the 30th dri­est coun­try in the world and 3rd in Africa.

Nel­son Man­dela Bay Mu­nic­i­pal­ity is an­other metro at the re­ceiv­ing end of the dev­as­tat­ing drought that is rav­aging some parts of the coun­try and con­ti­nent.

A few weeks ago, it was also de­clared a Dis­as­ter Area due to the un­re­lent­ing drought.

The dam lev­els in the City of Cape Town and Nel­son Man­dela Bay are lin­ger­ing at be­low 20% and just above 30% re­spec­tively, some­thing of un­de­sir­able pro­por­tions.

Even though there is still hope of some win­ter rain for the res­i­dents of the West­ern Cape which is gen­er­ally known to get some rain in win­ter, the same can­not be said about Nel­son Man­dela Bay and it could find it­self in dire straits.

Gov­ern­ment can talk and come up with slo­gans un­til it runs out of ink, but if wa­ter users do not come to the party, the sta­tus quo will re­main as is, or even get worse.

The De­part­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion, along with some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, has been run­ning lots of cam­paigns, urg­ing peo­ple to save wa­ter.

How­ever, all th­ese cam­paigns would be fu­tile if there is no co-op­er­a­tion from wa­ter users them­selves.

A lot of op­tions are avail­able to en­sure that wa­ter re­sources are not wasted but con­served.

Re-use of wa­ter is one op­tion that is avail­able for ev­ery house­hold to avoid us­ing clean and drink­ing wa­ter for things such as ir­ri­ga­tion, flush­ing toi­lets and damp­en­ing down dust.

Grey wa­ter is made up of bath, shower, bath­room sink and wash­ing ma­chine wa­ter. Wa­ter ex­perts ad­vise against us­ing kitchen wa­ter as this is dam­ag­ing to plant life be­cause of fat con­tent.

With the world’s pop­u­la­tion ex­plod­ing on the one hand and our ac­cess to wa­ter di­min­ish­ing on the other, re­cy­cling wa­ter at home so you can use it again makes com­mon sense. In fact, with global weather pat­terns chang­ing as a re­sult of car­bon emis­sions it’s fast be­com­ing a ne­ces­sity.

There is a fa­mous say­ing that we can all live with­out love but we can­not live with­out wa­ter.

I sus­pect all those af­fected by short­ages never though that this day would come.

For all our sakes, let us all change our at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iours to­wards wa­ter us­age. Com­mu­ni­ca­tor at the De­part­ment of Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion.


PARCHED EARTH: A drought has hit parts of Ge­orge, Mos­sel Bay, Sedge­field, Knysna, Al­ber­tinia and Rivers­dale.

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