Price of water to rise

September 22, 2010

The threat of a significant rise in water costs has been on the horizon for many years. This is as the country is running out of fresh water resources. We may be faced with water tariff increases similar to we will experience with our electricity bills.

Concerned water users will be able to reduce their water consumption by harvesting rainwater and recycling greywater. Rain harvesting could take a household off the grid over many of the winter months as their water tanks will be storing every drip of water.

Water tariff increases

Water rate increase

Water prices for South Africans could in the near future quadruple as a result of the escalating pollution of the country’s water resources by the country’s mining industry.

“If we don’t find a special development where we can mine without affecting water resources, the prices of water will go up. Someone will need to pay for either the treatment of water or getting more water, and I believe that person is the consumer,” said Koos Pretorius of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment.

Pretorius, who was speaking on the sidelines of the AgriSA’s Water Conference in Kempton park, said the sad reality was between 30 and 40 percent of South Africa’s power utility Eskom’s electricity generation was still reliant on coal.

“We are mining sensitive areas where there is a conflict of interest between mining, agricultural production and the quality of water. We need to move away from this urgently,” Pretorius said.

The farming community had been complaining that it was carrying the costs of water pollution because water fetched from rivers contained heavy metals that accumulated in produce.

He said these vast areas were growing day by as they were about coal mines in 2001 and there were about 400 mining rights applications and another staggering 6 000 applications for prospecting rights in Mpumalanga alone.

Water Affairs and Environment (DWA) Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said her department was busy with plans to formulate a strategy along with the Chamber of Mines and was also planning on board the Department of Mineral (DMR).

“The strategy will be two faced. The first part will be dealing with the imminent and looming crisis and the second part will centre on the long term sustainability of water quality,” she said.

Sonjica said in the 2009/10 financial year, her department had issued a total 239 directives, 31 of these had been resolved positively and 14 were currently before the Courts.

“The rest of these are undergoing the rigorous process of being resolved. We will intensify this aspect of our work to ensure that we bring to book all the offenders,” she said.

– Business Report

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