Gravest crisis in history faces South Africa

South Africa faces the gravest crisis in its history – a chronic shortage of clean water.  Newspaper stories and commentators have predicted that wars and social unrest will be caused by this water shortage, and that the entire country’s economy could collapse if the quality of South Africa’s water is not improved.
In a press release issued by the National Taxpayers’ Union, the Union says that there have already been some worrying signs:  an upsurge in water-borne diseases in both rural and urban areas; reports of water-sporting events being cancelled because of the poor quality of the water, bacteria finding its way into foodstuffs because of polluted irrigation.  The economic impact will be profound:  already the European Union is considering a ban of imports of South African fruit and vegetables because of contamination.  Recently a cargo load of grapes was returned to South Africa because it did not comply with export-health regulations.
The greatest irony of South Africa’s water crisis is that it is entirely preventable.  The country has enough water for its citizens, but that water supply is becoming useless largely due to a collapse in water treatment.  The National Taxpayer’s Union (NBU) has set up a Water Committee to prevent the further deterioration of the country’s water supply.
“Until very recently, South Africa used to have a water quality that was amongst the highest in the world,” says Jaap Kelder, chairman of NBU.  “But a lack of maintenance by local government has led to our water quality deteriorating sharply.  We now have raw sewage flowing directly into rivers and dams, our ground water is polluted, our beaches are not fit for swimming.  It is impossible to overstate the damage that this is going to do to our economy – we are no longer going to be able to export our agricultural produce; our hospitals will not be able to cope with the number of people who fall sick with water-borne diseases; our tourist industry will suffer irreparable damage.”
Fortunately, says Kelder, the decline is not irreversible – yet.
“The infrastructure to keep our water clean in still largely in place,” he says.  “We have not yet reached the point of no return.  But we must take urgent action.  For this reason the NBU has convened a Water Committee that aims to intervene where municipalities cannot maintain the water quality, and act within the Water Act and the Municipal Systems Act (MSA) to place water supply in the hands of competent managers.  The MSA makes provision for external service providers where the need arises, and our water supply situation has now reached a point where some municipalities can no longer be trusted with the handling and operation of sewage and sewage works.”
Kelder calls upon residents of towns and farmers in South Africa to join the NBU to intervene where their water supply is threatened, so that the decline in water quality across the country can be halted.
“It is not too late,” he says.  “But we need to take urgent action.  There is not a single municipality in South Africa that does not face this threat.   There is not a single farmer that does not face this threat.  We all have to get together to do something, to avert disaster.”
To contact the NBU for more information, either contact Jaap Kelder at 083 – 208-9314 or info@zanli.co.za