AVERTING A WATER CRISIS
Dam levels in the Eastern Cape are dangerously low after years of drought. The province’s main water supplier is Koega Dam, which is currently at less than 4% capacity. Of this, only 1.5% is usable. The second largest dam is the Impofu, which is at 16.64 % capacity. Severe water restrictions have been imposed in the province, and in addition to the drought, the situation has been exacerbated by the poor management of water infrastructure.
Raymond Obermeyer, MD of Sew-Eurodrive, says that water scarcity has a profoundly negative influence, impacting economic productivity, livelihoods, safety and security. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry estimates that South Africa will have insufficient water supplies by 2025 unless our water resources are managed more efficiently.
Water infrastructure is in a woeful state after decades of mismanagement and inadequate maintenance, but it finally appears that government has started to acknowledge the scale of the looming crisis with the accelerated establishment of a National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency, as well as the prioritisation of 11 water and sanitation projects. Four of these are ready for investment, with construction expected to commence in the next two years.
Obermeyer says however, that the water problems will not be solved overnight, and in addition to public/private partnerships, South Africa needs to implement 4IR technologies to better manage and control water distribution networks.