EDITORIAL | Being water-wise must be part of life


Just like the critical energy crunch the country is currently facing due to a litany of bad planning and decision-making, water scarcity looms large as SA’s next, very real crisis.
Having had some relief from a lengthy and debilitating drought with supply dam levels having at least risen somewhat this year, Nelson Mandela Bay is still in a precarious position when it comes to water supply and usage – as are many other parts of the country.
As delegates to a think tank in the city heard this week, SA will have a 17% water deficit by 2030, which is why the issue of why we must literally create water takes on such urgency.
Practical initiatives are being proposed for the metro, which include the possibilities of a new dam, developing more ground water sources and a desalination plant – but these carry their own challenges over expense and environmental impact.
While this kind of lateral thinking and concrete planning around future water security should have commenced years ago, it is pointless to debate what should – or shouldn’t – have been done in the past.
It is crucial these kind of strategies being debated now are taken further so that they translate into integrated management solutions and not just end up as pipe dreams.
Access to water is a basic human right, but it is also an absolute economic necessity without which the consequences on ordinary people’s lives – from jobs to food security – could be disastrous.
The strong message from this week’s conversation was that whatever steps are taken to grow water supply, it is reduction, re-use and recycling on every individual consumer’s part that remains the bedrock of all efforts to improve prospects of having a sufficient and sustainable water supply.
When Cape Town was facing the very real threat of a day zero, a massive collective endeavour kicked in.
In the past two years – as we faced our own critical situation – Bay residents were at first slow to action, but nevertheless became increasingly water-wise.
That has to escalate and remain a way of life for all of us.

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