A better way to conserve water
THE THREAT of water shortage in the country is no longer in a near future, but a reality we have to live with and address today.
Recently the Western Cape was declared a disaster area with the prospect 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.
The magnitude of the Day Zero is an unimaginable catastrophe which no one is prepared for.
Barely two years ago, South Africans – especially those in big cities – had to quickly acclimatise to the new phrase “water restrictions” as the country was gripped by a severe drought.
The drought, which began almost two years ago, is said to be the worst in 35 years, according to the SA Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA).
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?
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 Joburg city council were forced to implement water restrictions in a bid to curb excessive water usage as the drought persisted.
Dam levels, including the Integrated Vaal River System which supply industries and the population in Gauteng, were dropping at an alarming rate, threatening the province’s economy and by extension that of the country.
During the recent Budget speech which I tabled and which was subsequently passed by the city council, I pleaded with councillors that, given the scarcity of water in Joburg, the huge inequality in the city and the massive infrastructure and service backlogs, it is in the best interest of the residents for the city to stop giving free basic water to all residents.
This move would allow the city to only give free basic water to those who need it the most, the poor people of our city. A lot of our clean water is lost through leaks, wastage and illegal connections.
Statistics show that the international average water usage per day is 173 litres, while South Africans on the other hand use 61.8% more water than the world average.
I’m pleased the city council voted for a 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, per month. This is above the national recommendation of six kilolitres of free water per month and is in line with our pro-poor agenda.
Through this, the city council will be able to generate an estimated R320 million more in revenue, which would be ploughed back into our communities for better services and infrastructure.
It will help to bring water and electricity services to communities that have never had them before.
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.
How did we move so quickly from water restrictions to Day Zero?
City of Joburg’s Member of the Mayoral Committee for Finance