Nelson Mandela Bay’s water crisis is more severe than the one Cape Town faced last summer, with dam levels dropping to less than 20% and no meaningful rainfall in sight. The whole of Gauteng is at risk of severe water restrictions. So is eThekwini. These risks are no longer small and local; they have become large and systemic, affecting all of SA. Unless they are addressed, the costs to the economy and citizens are likely to dwarf those already incurred in Cape Town. The solution lies in four key areas: The relationship between cities and the national department of water and sanitation should change; Commercial financing should play a much larger role, supported by cost-recovery tariffs; Investment decisions should be made with the long term in mind, unaffected by short-term election cycles; and Sound leadership will be required to achieve the necessary shifts. Water supply failure in a city has serious consequences. At an individual level, having no piped water is highly inconvenie...

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