Sustainable water use, access to water, and transformation were some of the main challenges facing the water sector, according to Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation.
Speaking at the recent Agri SA Congress in Centurion, Sisulu said her department was
in the process of designing a water management plan, to be released shortly, which included protecting the resource and ensuring that everybody had equitable access.
“Without proper water governance, South Africa will not be able to deal with climate change,” she said.
While 1,5 million hectares were under irrigation, the National Development Plan called for an additional 500ha to come into production.
“This requires more water for irrigation. We need to have a way in which we conserve our water and stretch it further. Based on the current projections, and without effective interventions, the water deficit confronting the country could be between 2,7 billion and 3,8 billion cubic metres.”
To improve water services, negligent municipalities that were not providing water adequately would be taken to court, she said.
“Some municipalities don’t have the political will [to perform better], but some don’t have the necessary skills. They must [be taught] about water and water management.”
Sisulu added that some needed support to better understand the ‘water environment’, and called on stakeholders and farmers to help where they could in offering their expertise and advice.
“We must work together to manage water effectively,” she said.
Wayman Kritzinger, chairperson for the Centre of Excellence for Natural Resources at Agri SA, said it was important that agricultural water be managed and protected to ensure food security.
“If new infrastructure is built but management is not improved, water scarcity will become problematic,” he added.
Kritzinger said that water management centres needed to be decentralised, and implementation of catchment management agencies fast-tracked