Strategy to manage SA’s water efficiently

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pretoria – Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has released the second National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS2), which sets out the vision and strategic actions for effective water management.

The release of the strategy on Wednesday, follows Cabinet’s approval last week. It builds on what has been accomplished by the first NWRS published in 2004.

Molewa said since the publication of the first strategy, new challenges have emerged, and many changes have occurred in the water sector, which require new thinking and innovation.

These include the security of water supply, environmental degradation, and pollution of resources.

“The NWRS2 outlines the key challenges, constraints and opportunities in water resource management and proposes new approaches that ensure we all respond collectively and adequately for the benefit of all our people.

“Water is a key driver of socio-economic development. This strategy seeks to propel towards the achievement and attainment of an inclusive sustainable and equitable economy,” Molewa said.

Developing SA

The NWRS2 seeks to ensure that national water resources are managed towards achieving South Africa’s growth, development and socio-economic priorities in an equitable and sustainable manner over the next five to 10 years.

The strategy also responds to the priorities set by government in the National Development Plan (NDP) and National Water Act imperatives that support sustainable development.

It is centred on three key objectives, which are:

  • Water supports development and the elimination of poverty and inequality. The strategy recognises that the manner in which water was allocated in past was unequal and favoured certain sections of the population. The intention, therefore, is to redress past imbalances in the manner in which water was allocated. 
  • Water contributes to the economy and job creation.
  • Water is protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner.

Unpacking the strategy

The first chapter of the strategy deals with the purpose and scope, reasons for revising the previous strategy, the process followed to develop this strategy and also reflects on the NWRS1.

The second chapter deals with National Strategic Imperatives, including South Africa’s Vision 2030 and alignment with the National Planning Commission’s Vision 2030 and National Government Outcomes.

Chapter three focuses on the vision, goal, principles and objectives. Chapter four focuses on water resources planning, infrastructure development and management, while chapters five and six address water resource protection and equitable water allocation, respectively.

Chapter seven entails issues relating to water conservation and water demand management, chapter eight focuses on Institutional Arrangements, while chapter nine addresses regulation of the water sector.

“In chapter 10 we deal with the issue of managing water resources for climate change. In chapter 11, we address international cooperation and trans-boundary water course management.

“Chapter 12 deals with financial management, while chapter 13 addresses issues of monitoring and information management,” said Molewa.

Chapter 14 deals with research and innovation.

Molewa said issues of water sector skills, capacity, emerging policy and implementation of the strategy are dealt with in the last two chapters.

The NWRS2 also focuses on water conservation and water demand management as key priority. According to recent research published by the Water Research Commission, non-revenue water for urban supply systems were at 36.8% over the past six years, equal to 1 580 million cubic meters per annum.

However, Molewa said it was encouraging to note that some municipalities and other water services authorities have begun to address the issue of water losses.

“The NWRS2 emphasises that efforts must be intensified with specific targets set to reduce preventable water loss.” –

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