SA’s strategic water source areas are largely unprotected, according to several studies, including some conducted by state agencies, cited by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) at a presentation on Wednesday. SA is in the grip of a water crisis as failing infrastructure, agricultural and industrial pollution, drought, and rapid urbanisation threaten the economy, biodiversity and the health of millions. About 98% of surface water has already been allocated, according to a CSIR study. By 2030, the organisation estimates, SA will experience a 17% deficit between water supply and demand. The 22 strategic water source areas, which constitute only about 8% of the country’s land surface, supply 60% of the population with water and about 70% of irrigation water, which together account for 67% of SA’s economic activity. Of these sources, only about 18% enjoy statutory protection, notably the National Environmental Management Act, according to a World Wide Fund for Nature study. About ...

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