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Farmers object to water meter plan


Farmers also have to keep monthly water measurement records under specified regulations and submit these to the department.

IRRIGATION farmers have been given 30 days to install obligatory water meter measuring devices.

The notice was published in the Government Gazette on January 17, 2020 and gives farmers 30 days to install these devices, at their own cost.

Any water users who are not members of a State Water Scheme or Water Users Association must install the meters.

According to the Department of Water and Sanitation, the purpose is to ensure the sustainability of water use in South Africa because the demand for water is higher than the available supply.

In terms of the notice, the department has instructed all water users who are not members of an Irrigation Board or Water User Association in all Water Management Areas to install water measuring devices for water taken for commercial irrigation purposes and to monitor compliance.

The selection, installation, operation and maintenance of these water measuring devices must comply with the provisions of the regulations.

The water measuring devices must be installed by February 28, 2020 and users must submit monthly water measurement records to the competent authority in accordance with the regulations.

The Transvaal Agricultural Union (TLU) said yesterday that it had strongly objected to the announcement in an official letter to the Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu.

“TLU SA agrees that the monitoring of water use in the country should be better,” Steven Vermaak, the chairperson of TLU SA’s water affairs committee said yesterday. “The delay in establishing Water User Associations is, however, a more pressing matter which should be prioritised. It will contribute to managing the use of water more efficiently. In our correspondence, we asked the installation of water measuring devices to be postponed until these associations are set up.”

A single 50mm water meter that adheres to the specifications set out by the department costs around R18 000, but the bigger the in- and outlet, the more expensive it gets. The water used for irrigation is of such poor quality that farmers will have to install filters as well, pushing the cost up even more. Some irrigation farmers will have to install 10 or more devices.

Farmers also have to keep monthly water measurement records under specified regulations and submit these to the department.

“The measurement of water use is the responsibility of the state and not that of the water user,” Vermaak stated. “The authorities are doing an abysmal job of managing the use of water. On top of that, there aren’t even enough water meters in the country to complete this task.

“TLU SA believes that the Water User Associations will play an essential role to solve the dispute between TLU SA members and the department concerning the payment of invoices,” Vermaak added. “It will also contribute to shortening the existing, long line of communication and solving problems related to water delivery accounts faster.”

He pointed out that the department had thus far failed in processing various applications for the establishment of Water User Associations, even though some of these applications were made more than five years ago.

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