Using water wisely remains a national imperative

08 December 2016

By Sputnik Ratau

The debilitating drought which has struck our country has been a hard lesson on many fronts, including that water is finite resource and that we do not have the luxury of unending supplies. For us to recover from this drought will take a while and therefore requires some of the good practices that we have learnt so far for water conservation and demand management to continue as a way of life.

Reduced water demand in our household, in industries, better irrigation technologies at farming communities, planning of indigenous trees and plants, water reuse and recycling, to name but a few, are some of the everyday practices that have had to come into play the country to survive this drought.

We as a country we do not have the luxury of unending supplies » For us to recover from this drought will take a while » Good practices need to be continued as a way of life all the savings we can achieve.

South Africa has received some welcome rains recently in some of the catchment areas, with rising dam levels on average. The country has experienced a welcome relief as a result, but we are not out of the woods yet.

The rains might have raised the dam levels somewhat, but the fact remains that we are still below the average that we were at last year at this same time.

We have to continue appreciating the rains that we receive, understanding that we have not yet recharged our resources sufficiently to even allow for the restrictions where implemented to be lifted.

We must understand that we cannot afford any activities that could negatively impact on water availability, such as pollution, vandalism and theft of infrastructure, illegal connections, leaks, watering during the day in the heat, washing cars with hosepipes and so forth.

We need to share information more widely for communities, the young and old, to understand the meaning of water scarcity.

Cooperation is critical for messaging to flow throughout the country. Water and sanitation forums are essential platforms at which all water and sanitation issues and challenges can be raised among the communities.

The Department of Water and Sanitation, through its toll-free call centre number 0800 200 200, SMS number 45174, together with the municipalities’ call centre numbers have to be used to report any difficulties experienced or to report any foul play under way or even suspected. We all need to be water-wise, all the time. The country needs that to be able to continue towards a positive socioeconomic trajectory, using the precious resource that is taken for granted in a lot of ways.

The rains notwithstanding, South African must continue to save water and use it wisely and sparingly.

There can never be a moment when we have too much water as a country.

Sputnik Ratau is spokesperson for the Department of Water and Sanitation