Categories: South Africa

Limpopo wastes as much as a large dam’s water every year

Limpopo is losing 3,7 million kilolitres of water a month – the equivalent of a large dam (44 million kilolitres) a year – due to failing municipal infrastructure and transmission leakage.

The figures reveal that clear water is being lost, despite farmers having water quotas reduced and hundreds of thousands of Limpopo citizens not having access to basic water. “The minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa needs to intensify the war on water leaks. In Limpopo, 66,5% of the water supply is being lost. The truth is that actual delivery represents 5,9% of the total demand. This situation is untenable,” said Marti Wenger, DA MP and spokesperson for water and environmental affairs.

The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) has set aside R2,3 billion to complete four water infrastructure projects to deliver water to municipalities: the Olifants River Resource Development Project, the Mokolo Crocodile West Water Augmentation Project, the Levhuvhu River Government Water Scheme pipe contracts and the Groot Letaba Water Augmentation Project.
“However, more needs to be done to detect and repair leaking infrastructure within municipalities. Reducing leaks alone could reduce the need for new bulk infrastructure projects in certain parts of the country,” Wenger said.

Molewa said demand for water was high and supply was low due to rapid population growth and lack of proper water conservation and maintenance of water supply systems. “All the Water Services Authorities in Limpopo are experiencing water shortages… Some are already rationalising their water supply,” Molewa said. Letaba Water Users’ Association chairperson Louis van Rooyen said farmers were in a tight position.

“We are already under restriction of 40% of our annual water quota and have to make do with 60% of our quota until the summer rain season.’’ There are meters on every pump and canal to control water extractions. But in drought conditions there are serious discrepancies between supply and demand, he said.

‘‘The water deficit will worsen in the future. The area along the Levhuvhu River is mainly citrus, bananas, mangos and avocados. These are permanent crops and we can’t just turn off the water or replant.” While a new dam is planned at Nwamitwa under the the Groot Letaba Water Augmentation Project and the raising of the Tzaneen Dam wall is at a final stage, Van Rooyen said this would only bring relief, it won’t deal with drought.

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