Search for alternative water sources

Pretoria – The search continues for alternative methods to receive water since the conversion of seawater to drinking water to areas affected by severe drought is extremely expensive.

Chief Director in the Department of Water and Sanitation in charge of Water Policy, Marie Brisley, told delegates attending the Southern African Development Community (SADC) National Water Week-SA Workshop that desalination was arguably an expensive form of supplying drinking water.

He said the conversion of seawater to drinking water was only possible in coastal areas as it would be more costly to reticulate seawater to inland.

“Although the drought was rampant in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Limpopo and North West Provinces, Gauteng was among the ‘less risky’ areas that might be affected by the drought,” said Brisley.

However, the department, together with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and affected municipalities are working together to find solutions to the drought challenges in the province.

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane recently joined KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube and eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo to visit some of the drought-stricken communities in Durban and North Coast.

During the visit, the issue of desalination as a mitigation effort was mooted. It is a long-term solution and at the moment there is no decision as to its implementation.

Part of Brisley’s input included the National Water Resources Strategy-2 (NWRS-2), which the department has finalised. The Strategy is used as a guiding document to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of water in South Africa.

Among the key points the NWRS-2 contains include:

· Water conservation and water demand management

· Surface water resource management (operation of water supply systems)

· Managing and use of groundwater resources

· Re-use and desalination of water

· Eradication of invasive alien plants (catchment care)

· Re-allocation of water

· Eradication of illegal use

· Development of surface water resources (e.g. dams)

· Transfer of water

· Rainwater harvesting

The three-day workshop will end on Friday with delegates taking resolutions aimed at finding better ways of addressing water woes in SADC countries.