BY KATLEGO MOKAILA
Despite the good rains in recent months, our normal water needs still cannot be met and we are not out of the clear yet. The drought is far from over and even with a normal season it will take a number of years for the system to stabilize to an acceptable level.
North West province, which according to 2011 Census report has more than 3 million people is one of the driest province that is largely dependent on ground water. This then would mean that the drought situation must be taken seriously by everyone because surface water is declining rapidly.
Climate change is still in our midst and South Africans have observed its effects first hand, even today we are experiencing changes in rainfall patterns and increasing heat. To say water is a precious resource is not an exaggeration from government but a reality. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, most of the three percent of freshwater is inaccessible. Over 68 percent of the freshwater on earth is found in icecaps and glaciers, and just over 30 percent is found in ground water. Only about 0.3 percent of our fresh water is found in the surface water of lakes, rivers, and the earth’s fresh water available for human consumption. This means that South Africa as a thirsty country, beyond doubt it is squeezing its limited drops to meet the demands of its people.
Government has had to spend millions of rands on drought relief interventions such as water tankers and borehole drilling among others in worst affected provinces and it is still not enough. This clearly means we should save water and change our casual behavior in our daily use.
The recent rainfalls have not made that much of an impact, it was like just a drop in the ocean, let’s continue being water wise. Every drop should count, as long as there climatic conditions such as El Nino and La Nina, water scarcity will continue to be a lifetime headache to all because is not a passing occurrence hence we need to adapt to it.
Let’s also adapt to rain water harvesting. Water should not go to waste, rain water is free and it should be used for meaningful things and not wasted.
The following tips could be useful:
· To store rain water, use a drum or bucket when it is raining so that you can use the water after it has rained, but be careful and close the bucket so that children should not fall in and drown in it.
· Educate children on how to save water and not to play with water as it is dangerous.
· Use a bucket to wash your car
· Save water that falls off during a shower
· Save grey water and store rain water
Most people do not take the drought situation seriously because they are always fetching water from their taps or they wait for a water tankering truck to deliver water to them and if that doesn’t happen, they object.
In thirsty Municipalities such as Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality (DrRSMDM), dams such as Wentzel have no water, in fact there is no drop of water to be precise; however emergency support such as tankering have been deployed to all affected areas in the North West Province, including Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality.
Currently 211 dams are monitored by the Department of Water and Sanitation, 28 falls under North West Province. Dam levels in the North West Province are currently up from 1.6% to 67.3%. Remember dam levels are monitored weekly.
This forecast is still quite concerning with regard to the recovery of our dams. While we have seen some slight improvements in dam levels with the national average increasing, the drought is not over and we need to intensify our efforts to save water. Water restrictions measures will continue to be implemented until South Africa becomes a water wise alert society.
NB: Katlego Mokaila is the Communications Manager in the Department of Water and Sanitation, North West Region