Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has called on citizens to use water sparingly and responsibly because climate change has exacerbated the drought situation in the country.

Briefing media in Johannesburg on Sunday, the Minister also called on local government and those responsible for managing water to lead communities in using water wisely.

“South Africa is a water scarce country with highly variable rainfall and water runoff. To mitigate this situation, this requires pro-active and responsive risk management, coupled with innovative water security management interventions,” said the Minister, who added that there was no substitute for the resource.

She explained that 98% of the water in the country has already been supplied and it has to be reused. South Africa has had to draw some of the water from Lesotho.

Drought conditions are being experiences across the country due to prolonged lower-than-normal rainfall since the beginning of the year, and this has led to water shortages in a number of public water supply schemes or dams.

Measures to mitigate drought

Minister Mokonyane said to address and mitigate the potential impact of drought there were immediate, medium and long term measures being put in place.

These include the strict implementation of drought operating rules at all dams; increasing the water mix especially groundwater utilisation, rain harvesting, re-use of return flows and packaged desalination plants; reducing operational risks by proper infrastructure operation and maintenance with associated skills development; implementation of water conservation and demand management programmes and climate research as well as hydrological and geo-hydrological monitoring.

“The department has committed R352.6 million to the initial drought intervention projects and a further R96.620 million to interim tinkering and additional interventions,” said Minister Mokonyane.

She gave a breakdown of the water levels in each of the provinces.

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