Currently four provinces - KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, North West and Limpopo - have declared drought as a disaster, with Mpumalanga at an advanced stage of preparation for the declaration of drought as a disaster.
The Gauteng Province Water and Sanitation Forum held a meeting on Monday to formulate a concrete plan of action to respond to the water supply challenge.
The forum was approved by Gauteng Premier David Mabuza. It comprises the Department of Water and Sanitation, Provincial Government, all municipalities and other relevant stakeholders, including Rand Water and Eskom.
The forum is responsible for managing water and sanitation challenges in the province and implementing strategies to deal with them.
Addressing the media shortly after the meeting, Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Jacob Mamabolo said the forum has decided to adopt a water conservation campaign to make sure the province manages its water supply optimally.
“What we need to do is go on the ground and engage different stakeholders, particularly those with high consumption of water. We’ll have discussions with them to drive the message that it is important to conserve water.
“We will also mobilise ward councillors to be champions at ward level to take the message to our people. Community development workers have been identified as key actors in the group to champion the message of conserving water,” MEC Mamabolo said.
The campaign, which is expected to be launched on Thursday, is constituted by six critical elements, with the war on water leaks on top followed by water harvesting.
“We need to make sure that households, schools, clinics, police stations and government departments build capacity for harvesting… so that we don’t just rely on the Vaal River and Rand Water. The Vaal Dam is a source of water harvesting and we need to take it to our households,” MEC Mamabolo said.
Another element of the campaign is strengthening water supply production and water treatment capability, as well as guaranteed uninterrupted supply of water in all essential services like hospitals.
MEC Mamabolo said as another element of the campaign, Eskom has committed to ensuring that all sources responsible for pumping, storing and distributing have a steady power supply and that these sources should be exempt from power outages.
Joburg City Power has also ensured that the critical points will not be affected by load shedding.
Educating the public on how to use water at home is also an element of the campaign.
MEC Mamabolo reiterated that while the province has enough water, the demand is tricky to balance in light of the current heat wave.
“If we don’t take drastic measures, the drought will place immense pressure on water supply. We need one campaign that deals with water demand management. We should be at the forefront leading the campaign on water savings,” MEC Mamabolo said, adding that the campaign will finance itself.
Rand Water Board chairperson Advocate Matshidiso Hashatse said the system is still coping, with the Vaal Dam capacity at 58.9%.
“We also have capacity to transfer water from other sources other than the Vaal River in order to supply Gauteng… We have enough water at the moment to meet our needs as Gauteng,” she said.
However, she warned that the country is water scarce and people cannot use water in the unsustainable manner they have been doing.
“The demand is inclining compared to the normal demand at this time of the year. Currently we are supplying 4 800 mega litres in one day. The demand is growing and our ability to continue supply is not quite matching the demand. We have to be mindful of our water sources. We need to change our habits,” she said.