THE WATER CRISIS IN THE WESTERN CAPE, THE CITY OF CAPE TOWN IN PARTICULAR, AND IN OTHER PROVINCES, AND THE IMPACT IT HAS ON THE

  • March 09, 2018 | Deputy President Willie Madisha

THE WATER CRISIS IN THE WESTERN CAPE, THE CITY OF CAPE TOWN IN PARTICULAR, AND IN OTHER PROVINCES, AND THE IMPACT IT HAS ON THE COUNTRY AS A RESULT OF DROUGHT, GLOBAL WARNING AND OTHER CONTRIBUTING FACTORS

 

Speaker, in 2008, an acclaimed scientist, Dr Anthony Turton, was ordered not to deliver a hard-hitting presentation on South Africa’s water crisis. He was to have warned that ‘South Africa had run out of surplus water and that for us to remain silent was bordering on criminal negligence’ Instead he was suspended by the CSIR, and charged with bringing the council into disrepute.

The rest they say is history…..

Speaker, according to Turton we are in the process of an unfolding national water crisis. And that whilst the focus is currently on the Cape Town, Gauteng came within a week of running out of water last year, saved only by a major rainfall event that fell deep into the eleventh hour.

Similar situations exist in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal….

Speaker, this is apart from gross malfeasance and rampant corruption that has crippled the Department of Water and Sanitation and which threatens water security across the country – as evidenced in today’s action by NEHAWU. We also need to ask why the ANC-led government did not react to the National Water Resource Strategy published two decades ago that stated that four of our water management areas would be in deficit by 2025?

But speaker, as Turton points out: ‘ingenuity takes place on the cusp of chaos’.

Turton proposes that we need a paradigm shift in how we think about and approach water. Our current approach is to acknowledge that we are an arid country and, as such, we approach water as a finite resource and manage it as a scarcity – as a ‘stock’ from which we must now squeeze the last drop.

But as Turton posits it, water is not a finite resource – but rather a ‘flux’: it is an infinitely renewable resource.

And so, we don’t have a water problem but rather a pollution and a salt problem. 

We need to re-frame the problem and hence the solutions.

As an infinitely renewable resource we need to concentrate:

· On the recovery of potable water from waste water;

· On the removal of salts from water in our gold and coal mining areas – and desalination of seawater along the coast; and 

· On the conjunctive use of ground water: this is, draw from it in times of need and replenish it in times of abundance.

Speaker, this paradigm shifts in thinking, coupled with policy certainty could represent the foundation for a Marshall Plan and the development of new technologies, of ingenuity, of new industries, and the unlocking of capital and investment.

‘Out of crisis comes challenge, out of challenge comes success’ END!