Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

SA, which is in the throes of a mounting drought, has enough water to last through to the next summer rains,  human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Tuesday.

The minister said currently  there were no areas on the department's radar that would suffer completely from a lack of water as various measures had been put in place to mitigate the drought .

Last week, the department released a R900bn water master plan for the management of water and sanitation services until 2030 and beyond.

Among the measures the government is taking to mitigate the effects of the drought are drilling and rehabilitating boreholes; using water tankers; harvesting rainwater and fogs; protecting and using springs; cloud seeding; suppressing evaporation; desalination; and treating and reusing effluent. New technology would be used to ensure security of water supply.

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Sisulu said only 38 of the country’s 350 dams were at the critical level of below 10%. She said 644 towns were affected by drought. To those suffering from water shortages, she said there was hope and that the government had solutions.

She said in the Eastern Cape, eight of the 46 dams were in a critical state, with water levels below 10%. Forty four towns and surrounding communities affected by drought and a provincial state of drought having been declared.

In the Free State, only one of the 20 dams is critically low, with 24 towns affected by drought. None of the 19 dams in KwaZulu-Natal is in a critical state but there are 256 towns affected by drought conditions. No dams in Gauteng are in a critical state.

Five of the 28 dams in Limpopo are in a critical state with 162 towns affected.

In Mpumalanga, eight of the 22 dams are below 10% full and 74 towns are affected, while in the Northern Cape, one of the six dams is in a critical state with 31 towns affected. Most parts of the province rely on groundwater.

Three of the 28 dams in the North West are in a critical state and 13 towns are affected, while in the Western Cape 12 of the 43 dams are in a critical state. Forty towns in the Western Cape are affected by drought.

The minister stressed the importance of individuals reducing their water usage as “restriction rules have proven to work best”.

“SA still has higher water consumption per capita than the world average and yet we still continue to use water irresponsibly,” she said.

“To balance water requirements and supply, SA will need to reduce water demand as well as increase supply for a growing population and economy, to ensure water security by 2030. This will be done by encouraging behavioural change and ensuring that the public participates in government programmes to reduce use and preserve water,” Sisulu said.

The minister said the aim was to reduce average domestic consumption to 175 litres per person per day, which was the normal international average. However, that level might have to be reduced in drought conditions. Also critical would be to reduce water losses in municipalities to 15% below the current business-as-usual level.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za