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.