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Water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu, on a visit to Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday, activated the recently completed KwaNobuhle Pump Station at the Chelsea reservoir, which will pump water from the Nooitgedacht scheme to the western parts of the city, which are expected to run out of water first. With him is Bay mayor Eugene Johnson. Picture: WERNER HILLS
Water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu, on a visit to Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday, activated the recently completed KwaNobuhle Pump Station at the Chelsea reservoir, which will pump water from the Nooitgedacht scheme to the western parts of the city, which are expected to run out of water first. With him is Bay mayor Eugene Johnson. Picture: WERNER HILLS

Water infrastructure and technology needs urgent investment by the government to ensure the resource is being stored and used efficiently, says Amnesty International SA.

This as a supply deficit of about 17% is expected by 2030.

“SA’s water scarcity continues to be exacerbated by a lack of investment in infrastructure or technology, and the climate crisis, yet the government is doing very little to mitigate the consequences this will have for everyone living in the country,” Amnesty SA’s executive director Shenilla Mohamed said.

It is predicted that SA will face the biggest water crisis the country has experienced in the next decade, compounded by:

  • Forecasts that the effects of climate change will mean SA may experience a reduction of 10% in average rainfall, thereby reducing surface water runoff up to 50%-75% by 2025.
  • Thirty-seven percent of clean, potable water is being lost and wasted through poor infrastructure, such as leaking pipes, and is particularly prevalent in drought-prone areas such as Nelson Mandela Bay, where it is estimated that leaks account for 29% of the metro’s water losses.
  • Economic water scarcity, which is caused by a lack of investment in infrastructure or technology to draw water from rivers, aquifers, or other water sources

In KwaZulu-Natal, the state of eThekwini’s water infrastructure was already in a precarious position before the April floods, said Mohamed, adding that experts interviewed by Amnesty SA who reported that regular maintenance of water infrastructure might have mitigated some of the damage that occurred.

In Nelson Mandela Bay, Amnesty SA said “the municipality fast tracked the city’s day zero, by failing to ensure that water is not lost to thousands of leaks in the metro”.

Despite the city facing a water crisis, Nelson Mandela Bay loses about 29% of its water supply to leaks. “The metro has been facing a drought since 2016, so there is no excuse for the lack of maintenance to fix the water leaks,” said Amnesty SA.

Water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu, who visited the metro earlier this week, said the fight against leaks was one of the government’s drought interventions. He said the municipality had closed 2,774 of the more than 3,000 reported leaks. He gave the metro until Friday to fix the rest.

TimesLIVE

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