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SA Govt tightens water-use laws

The Department of Water and Sanitation will continue implementing water restrictions in all provinces as drought continues to ravage the country.
Des van Rooyen, convener or the Inter-Ministerial Committee convener and Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said the drought has necessitated the imposition of water restrictions in a number of cities and provinces, most recently Johannesburg. In Joburg restrictions will apply from September as authorities try to reduce consumption by 15 %.
He said last year the national dam levels were estimated at 64.3% of normal full supply and have dropped to 53.0% as of 05 September.
“The long range forecast shows a below normal, expected rainfall and therefore little relief is anticipated in the coming months,” Van Rooyen said in his statement.
Department of Water and Sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said people need to begin to understand that South Africa is a water-scarce country. “Under these circumstances, it cannot be business as usual. The mere fact that to sustain our economy we have to draw on water from Lesotho, this is a reflection on its own that all has not been well over time,” Ratau said.
Addressing the media on 8 September Van Rooyen said, “We meet on the heels of the winter season and now, as spring is upon us, scientists tell us there is no guarantee there will be sufficient rain during the coming season.”
He said the country and the region experienced drought in four categories: meteorological, hydrological, socio-economic and agricultural. Van Rooyen said that this has been recorded as one of the worst droughts ever according to South African Weather Services (SAWS).
“Although some areas are receiving rains and flooding experienced in some provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, the drought conditions have not improved, the dams across the country are at their lowest levels in years,” he said.
The minister said the water department was also increasing the water mix, especially ground water utilization, and that more than 7 487 boreholes are operational nationally.  He added that SAWS also cautioned that the current situation is delicate for all climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, water management and health.
“As the country is already under water stress, we call on all South Africans to make a concerted effort to save water and use it wisely,” the minister said.
Khabza Mkhize

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