The water crisis has been made worse by mismanagement and poor maintenance of critical water infrastructure, the DA said yesterday.
In a report on visits to several water treatment plants throughout the country, released yesterday, DA spokesman Phumzile van Damme said: “Although the drought is a meteorological phenomenon, the crisis is one of water infrastructure management exacerbated by low rainfall.”
The report details visits to several provinces in which, the party says, raw sewage was found to be flowing into dams and rivers, and there was a lack of equipment with which to treat water.
The report notes severe pollution in the St Lucia estuary in KwaZulu-Natal, and in Kraaipan, in North West, 10000 residents are served by one tap.
The DA said: “Water loss due to leaks, commercial losses and unbilled consumption” was exceptionally high. In the biggest metros, losses averaged 40%.”
DA MP Tarnia Baker said the biggest losses were not from leaking taps but from burst and leaking pipes, which accounted for millions of litres of water lost.
She said that in Tshwane the problem was not that there was no water but that the storage capacity of the city’s reservoir was inadequate.
Two government reports on the quality of South Africa’s water, completed earlier this year, were to have been released in September but Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has delayed their publication. Copies of the reports have, however, been given to municipalities.
“Each municipality must put together a recovery plan to indicate how they will improve the quality of drinking water and the quality of water flowing from waste water treatment plants,” Department of Water Affairs spokesman Sputnik Ratau said.
Ratau said he had not seen the DA report and would need time to read it before commenting.
But he said the current water crisis was attributable to “hydrological” issues, such as drought, the El Niño periodic weather phenomenon and climate change.
The state, he said, was having to provide water for more people because of urbanisation and the policy of giving universal access to potable water.