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Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, 11 November 2015 – South African government, private sector and civil society comment on the national drought providing predictions and recommendations that may improve the situation.

Public Private Partnerships needed to address drought in SA

South Africa’s freshwater resources are currently under serious threat due to the prevailing drought conditions that has impacted several provinces, notably KwaZulu Natal, Free State, North West and Gauteng. A call is made for all South Africans, including businesses, to review their current water use and management practices and continue to become more water efficient and water conscious. The drought is having a significant impact on the agricultural and municipal sectors. Should the drought prolong and intensify it could further impact other provinces and sectors of the economy, society and our natural ecosystems. The time for collective effort and action is now!

The Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) is a public-private civil society partnership working progressively to address key water challenges facing South African water users. A particular focus is on contributing to achieving efficient, equitable and sustainable access to water for all South Africans through the identification and application of innovative and cost effective water solutions and programmes. The SWPN, which comprises leading government institutions and private sector companies in water stewardship, is calling on all businesses, government departments and ministries as well as all communities and citizens in South Africa to save water and use it sparingly. The SWPN supports government’s efforts and interventions to ensure access to water and sanitation during this drought period and to minimise the drought’s negative impact on society, agriculture, the economy and the environment.

We all need to take individual responsibility and work with our families, communities, schools and businesses to conserve and protect our water resources. We make a special plea to all companies and businesses to take extra measures to reduce avoidable water losses, re-use and recycle water within their operations and to also educate employees, communities and school learners on ways to save water at work, schools and homes. We advocate the adoption of schools and municipalities by businesses and their investment in water loss reduction measures and programmes undertaken by the local authorities within their areas of operation. Other interventions that businesses could implement include:

  • Report leaking taps and pipelines to your maintenance department, local municipality or the water board for repairs;
  • Reduce, Recycle and Re-use water within operations;
  • Monitoring of on-site water losses and undertaking immediate repairs;
  • Educate and create awareness on the importance of water and the supply risks amongst employees;
  • Optimise efficiency of irrigation water use and invest in the removal of alien invasive vegetation;
  • Invest in training and capacity building particularly in the agriculture, mining and municipal sectors to ensure optimal operation of systems, minimisation of water losses as well as reduction and prevention of pollution;
  • Sponsorship of electronic and fixed billboards to display water conservation messages in support of drought relief measures;
  • Consider the inclusion of water conservation and efficiency tips on product packaging and service material as part of their internal marketing and communication campaigns; and
  • Consider the inclusion of drought messaging in advertising campaigns on radio, television, print and social media

Water Services Authorities and Government entities are urged to:
Vigorously undertake a war on leaks and WC/WDM programmes for the reduction of water losses which may include pressure management, leak detection and repair of bulk and reticulation infrastructure as well as repair and retrofitting of leaking household fittings for indigent consumers

  • Prioritise and expedite the repair of burst pipes within 48 hours as stipulated in the Water Conservation and Water Demand Management (WC/WDM) Regulations 509 of 2001;
  • Encourage reporting of water leakage by communities and make facilities available for this purpose;
  • Incentivise the implementation of water efficiency measures by stakeholders; and
  • Ensure that all government buildings are fitted with water efficient devices and that no irrigation takes place during the day

Civil Society and Political leaders are encouraged to:

  • Ensure the prevailing drought conditions and water conservation are a standing item on every community and public meeting agenda;
  • Use sports and community cultural events as platforms to promote water conservation;
  • Advocate water conservation through every civil society network utilising creative avenues including music, drama, poetry and art;
  • Report burst leaks to their municipalities and fix all leaking taps and toilets;
  • Re-use grey water for cleaning, garden watering, and washing cars; and
  • Ensure that no tap is left running during everyday activities i.e. brushing teeth, washing dishes etc.

Through the public-private partnership that has been created under the SWPN, there are a number of initiatives being implemented, such as the Water Administration System water release module implemented in several large water schemes, which has resulted in savings of approximately 48 million m³/per annum through improving on scheme water use efficiency. In addition, the partnership has supported the establishment of key assessment tools such as the National No Drop Programme aimed at supporting Non-Revenue Water reduction and water loss management in the urban water supply sector.

The partnership is also exploring sustainable mine water management solutions and the upscaling of mine water treatment projects by coal mines operating in the Olifants River Catchment and is also exploring the re-use of treated effluent from municipal waste water plants.

Let’s work together today to save every drop to ensure a better tomorrow for all.

The Strategic Water Partners Network is hosted by the Nepad Business Foundation and supported and funded by: Department of Water and Sanitation, SAB, 2030 Water Resources Group, GIZ, ABSA, Anglo American, Coca Cola, Eskom, Exxaro, Nestle, Sasol, South32, City of Johannesburg, City of Tshwane, SALGA, Johannesburg Water, Rand Water, Endangered Wildlife Trust, South African Irrigation Institute, WWF, Water Research Commission, SIWI.

For more information, please contact:
Zama Siqalaba
Programme Manager,
Strategic Water Partners Network of South Africa.

Tel: 010 596 1888
Email: swpn.secretariate@thenbf.co.za

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