Home South African There is no water crisis in SA – Minister Mchunu

There is no water crisis in SA – Minister Mchunu

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Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu said there is no water crisis in the country as dams are full but there is a reticulation issue that the department is focused on.

File picture: Werner Beukes

THERE is no water crisis in the country, but there is a reticulation problem that has resulted in dry taps in some parts of the country, said Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu.

“We want to state here that we don’t have a water crisis in the country at the moment. That is referring to availability of water in the country,” he said during a media briefing on Monday.

Mchunu said that most of the country’s dams were overflowing thanks to the number of rainy days recently.

However, he said that one newspaper captured the situation perfectly when it published that the dams were full but taps were dry.

He explained that the statement was true in some areas of the country as the reticulation to communities remained an ongoing issue for the department.

“The difficulty is in reticulation and it is a management issue. Previously there was a focus on bulk management of water as opposed to reticulation to communities which now has our focus.

“We are focusing on key schemes in the country such as big schemes in Mokopane and Polokwane in Limpopo and in the Free State, Bloemfontein and Gqeberqe as well,” he said.

He said after a recent visit to Gqeberqa that the department found the dam to be 15% full while a similar situation presented itself in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality.

Mchunu said the department was prioritising a massive project in the area that would see 70 megalitres of water added to that system to alleviate the problem.

He said there could be other examples where water was very scarce but the majority of the dams were full.

“We are not going to detach our eyes from ensuring water is always available via big schemes but at the same time, equally we will attend to reticulation of water to communities, households and businesses which has been lacking,” Mchunu said.

Director-general of the department Dr Sean Phillips added that water shortages in some areas could be due to several reasons such as particular climate issues even though there has been a lot of rainfall.

Phillips added that there were also other issues facing the department such as maintenance issues.

He said that apart from the planned maintenance and upgrades, there were also unanticipated breakdowns due to pumping equipment.

“It happened in the south of Johannesburg recently. There was an unanticipated breakdown and we had to attend to it. Where there are planned outages for maintenance, the key is to notify the community well in advance.

“Vandalism and theft is also a big problem where people are stealing parts of water works or pumping mechanisms and equipment,” Phillips added.

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