Basic facts about South African water

South African water

Clean water is becoming a scarcity and therefore many water treatment methods are available in an attempt to reuse the water that we do have. Let’s look at some facts about water in South Africa.

Clean water is becoming a scarcity and therefore many water treatment methods are available in an attempt to reuse the water that we do have. But before that is done, let’s have a look at some facts about South African Water, before determining solutions and their possible effects.

Let’s look at some facts about water in South Africa:

South Africa has low levels of rainfall when compared to the world average, with high variability as well as high levels of evaporation and increasing challenges from water pollution. South Africa is the 30th driest country in the world and has less water per person than countries widely considered as being much drier. At present, South Africa has 4395 registered dams with 2528 of those water supply related. However, despite the good infrastructure, the occurrence of floods and droughts are considered to be part of a normal water cycle and water restrictions and flood management are critical parts of the water business.

It is important to recognise that there are very different experiences of water scarcity in South Africa, eg. people staying in poor, rural areas experience water scarcity on a daily basis, with many of those people not having access to potable water supply or access to reliable water supply for productive purposes.

The South African water situation is characterised by low levels of rainfall, erratic runoff, high levels of evaporation and shallow dam basins as well as sedimentation problems and large scale inter basin water transfers. The majority of water management areas have water deficits despite significant transfers from other catchments. There are a number of options for reconciling water supply and demand including improved water use efficiency, development of new infrastructure, re-use and recycling, desalination and even the removal of water hungry alien invasive plants.

There are significant water quality challenges in South Africa, with main contributors being mining (acidity and increased metal contents), urban development (salinity, nutrients, microbiological), industries (chemicals and toxins) and agriculture (sediment, nutrients, agro – chemicals, salinity through irrigation return flows).

Water resource quality and water quantity issues and solutions are interrelated and need to be addressed in an integrated manner. Although it is possible to treat poor quality water to a potable standard, it can be very costly. We as South Africans need to stand together and save water as far as possible, in order to help combat issues regarding clean water in our country.

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