Wetlands under increasing threat
Anton Bredell, the minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, has called on South Africans to use water wisely.
Bredell was addressing the attendees of the 20th annual Water Indaba being held in the Western Cape this week.
“Water is becoming a growing concern for government. We are running out of it. It is as simple as that. It has been estimated that by 2050, due to the impact of climate change, rainfall in the Western Cape is likely to decrease by 30%. This is a huge concern for me and my departments.”
Bredell says it is not only issues like climate change that is creating the water shortage challenges.
“The reality is that people are also still wasting too much water. One estimate has been that South Africa is losing up to 25% of all our fresh water simply by wasting it. Old and broken infrastructure as well as inadequate maintenance regimes and insufficient skills on the ground are some of the causes for a tremendous amount of water being wasted. We cannot afford this status quo to continue. We must declare war on leaking taps, broken pipes and bad maintenance. We must ensure that we use water more efficiently in all sectors.”
Bredell reminded delegates of some of South Africa’s many challenges, chief amongst them inequality, poverty and unemployment. “If we want to address these challenges adequately, it starts by getting the basics right and water is one of the most basic elements driving a developing society.”
The Indaba is held annually in an effort to discuss and plan on the role of wetlands in South Africa.
“Wetlands are the most threatened ecosystems in South Africa and the information around these resources remains limited. It is imperative that we get a better handle on our wetland locations, the extent of them and the current rate of loss. In the Western Cape we are already tackling the challenge under an umbrella called the Green Economy. When it comes to water, one of the projects we have been busy with has been to look at our catchment areas and cleaning up our rivers. This has led to the Berg River Improvement Scheme that has seen a tremendous positive result to date.”
The Berg River Improvement Scheme addresses water quality and security concerns, as well as river rehabilitation in the river catchment areas of the Berg River. “We need to do more and we must start doing the right things now. Everyone has a role to play when it comes to water. Everyone can help make a difference.”
Media Liaison Officer Ministry of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Western Cape Government
Telephone: 021 483 2820
Fax: 021 483 6081