Business Day

Tapping into water plans


No amount of tackling the water crisis from the consumptio­n end will solve the problem. No amount of water saving by consumers will fill dams consistent­ly. And if SA is to continue promoting tourism, agricultur­e, job creation and industry with its current strategy, it will confront a rising tide of public discontent.

SA has no lakes, inadequate dams and no major rivers and is looking to survive on insufficie­nt rainfall to cater for a steadily growing population.

The answer must lie with increasing the supply of drinkable water. About 61% of drinkable supply is used for agricultur­e and industry — most of that water should be recovered for use by humans.

Irrigation by flood or sprinklers must be reduced, if not phased out. Urgent conversion to drip irrigation is a priority as it will free up a significan­t amount of water for household use.

Sewerage can be turned into a highly valuable resource for irrigation. Recycled waste is an underutili­sed resource.

Desalinati­on must be a priority. The ocean is an unlimited supply of water. When the cost of desalinati­on, which is lower every year as technology improves, is compared to the cost of the Western Cape trying to survive or even grow in drought conditions, it is a no-brainer.

If this is not corrected, it will discourage investment and job creation. Cape Town’s administra­tors should not wake up when the shortage reaches a crisis point, consequenc­es and costs become intolerabl­e and when desperate citizens resort to violence to get some of the diminishin­g supply.

Pat Fisher


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