Gauteng plans for a future of water scarcity
The Gauteng government is to set up a "water war room" by June 2018 to avoid a water crisis in the province, according to the government publication SAnews.gov.za.
Premier David Makhura announced the intention at the Premier’s Co-ordinating Forum last week. The forum aims to promote and facilitate relations between the provincial government and municipalities.
Water experts at the forum noted that Gauteng used 11% of the country’s water while contributing 38% to the national economy. SAnews quoted a panel of experts at the forum as saying the volume of water required by the province by 2025 would not be met unless additional storage infrastructure was built and investment into dams given the priority it deserved.
They said that water security could be achieved only if there was an adequate, safe, reliable and affordable supply to all consumers.
Makhura said Gauteng’s city region was vulnerable to a water crisis because of its geography, the region’s economy and its population. "We need to agree on setting up a water war room that will be made up of representatives from the provincial government and local government. This war room will have political and technical components, which will be used to identify trends and respond to those," said Makhura. Prof Mike Muller, one of the experts at the forum, said it was commendable that the premier was taking the initiative to tackle water challenges while the dams supplying the region were full, rather than waiting for a crisis to emerge, as happened in Cape Town.
However, the report did not reflect the discussion, said Muller. "While there was a proposal from a commercial organisation to set up a water war room, it was poorly informed and did not explain how it would address the current challenges faced by the province.
"It was also notable that the metro municipalities are not actively engaged in the ongoing planning for the expansion of the region’s water supply.
"[It] will be important to do this in a structured way and not to rely on commercial interests to lead the process," said Muller.
Eleanor Mavimbela, the spokeswoman for Johannesburg Water, said at the time of writing that the company was unable to respond immediately.