This was according to Dhesigen Naidoo, CEO of the Water Research Commission (WRC).
Speaking at the 14th Biennial Ground Water Division conference in Gauteng on Monday (21 September), he said this was so because farmers were dependent on the resource for their livelihoods. "I think that we can learn a lot about sustainable water use from the farming community," said Naidoo.
In addition, the use of groundwater in farming was much lower than widely believed and, compared to other industries, the rate of replenishment was much higher. As crops are irrigated, water is filtered by soil layers before entering the groundwater system again.
The availability of water posed a serious crisis in South Africa and worldwide – even in countries considered rainfall-rich, said Naidoo. He warned groundwater alone shouldn’t be viewed as the magic bullet to deal with the world’s water crisis.
Naidoo called on the academic, private and public sectors to create a vibrant and functional water industry that would see the country’s research converted into technical innovations to improve the quality and availability of water in SA.