Sonjica urges users to conserve water

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pretoria - Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica has challenged water users in KwaZulu-Natal to enforce Water Conservation and Demand Management (WCDM).

A concerned Sonjica said it had been reported that in some areas the water losses were as high as 35-40 percent.

"This is totally unacceptable as water is a limited commodity and wise use of water can extend the benefits derived from a drop of water.

"We therefore have to encourage and promote the re-use and recycling of water in order to conserve this precious life-giving resource," Sonjica said at a KwaZulu-Natal Water Summit on Monday.

Sonjica noted that the extreme levels of poverty in many areas of the province also required effective policies to be implemented as a matter of priority.

She said the department had piloted WCDM in a number of districts in the province, with the emphasis on the four pillars of the WCDM where social, technical, financial and legal/institutional interventions were applied.

The minister further encouraged the water sector to proactively deal with the challenges facing the communities due to lack of service delivery, before the communities decide to take to the streets.

Furthermore, the minister appealed to the ratepayers associations in the province to seek solutions with government in addressing challenges rather than resorting to counterproductive measures like withholding their payments to municipalities while they still enjoyed the services.

She warned that this practice impacts negatively on the ability of the municipalities to render services.

"Municipalities are not in a position to pay their debtors as a result, which leads to restrictions in some cases with dire consequences for users on the periphery of the reticulation system as well as those on high lying areas.

"We need to find a way of assisting municipalities to recover their costs in terms of services rendered," she said.

Sonjica also commended the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy which highlights spatial development corridors to promote economic development in the province.