S. Africa Water System Seen ‘Crashing’ as Call to Cut Use Fails

13.10.2016

South Africa’s water system may “crash” if consumers don’t heed a call to cut usage by 15 percent as the nation enters a third year of drought, the water affairs and sanitation minister said.

Restrictions that were reintroduced in parts of the country earlier this year were “a drastic measure we had to take,” Nomvula Mokonyane told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Pretoria. “If we do not do those things, we will have the water system crashing.”

South Africa’s rainfall in 2015 was the lowest since records began in 1904 and the pattern has persisted this year, causing widespread damage to crops and livestock. Farmers will need as much as 16.6 billion rand ($1.1 billion) in the year through March to subsidize feed purchases, a study by the AGRI SA lobby group and others showed earlier this year. The country, which is the continent’s largest corn producer, has become a net importer of the grain for first time since 2008.

“We are asking municipalities to step in -- local government is expected to enforce bylaws,” she said.

The Vaal Dam, which supplies Johannesburg and Pretoria, was 28 percent full as of Oct. 10, compared with 58 percent at the same time last year, according to data from the department. Rain normally returns in central and eastern South Africa in spring, which starts in September or October, after a dry four-month winter period. There has been little precipitation since the start of the season.

Mokonyane set up a team to probe allegations of maladministration against her department relating to contracts, she said. The team, to be headed by a lawyer, Terry Motau, has six months to investigate contracts awarded since June 1, 2014, she said.


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