Water and its ever-increasing scarcity will be the catalyst for the world’s next wars, unless we learn to manage this resource effectively and prudently.
This may be a doomsday scenario, but, bringing it closer to home, a bleak picture has emerged, reflecting water deficits already experienced by nearly all of South Africa’s cities and towns.
In the five- to 10-year forecasts for the country, researchers predict that this deficit will widen considerably.
This does not take into account the already devastating effects that rising climate change is having, and will continue to have, on our future rainfall patterns.
The entire country is at risk.
On a micro level, a little over a year ago, the Western Cape was on the brink of collapse as the province’s dam levels were close to empty. Major water restrictions were applied as the province inched closer to Day Zero.
This affected tourism and agriculture, upturned people’s lives and had a huge economic impact.
In Gauteng, the Vaal Dam has dipped below 50%.
This massive water system supplies the agriculture and mining sectors, as well as homes, schools and hospitals, with potable water.
It is fed by the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. In fact, an estimated 25% of the dam’s water is from Lesotho, which is itself in the grip of a drought.
Government is aware of the looming crisis and has ample and applicable plans to ameliorate the problem.
But these are plans on paper, and little has been actioned.
Billions have been squandered on projects that have yielded little, and there is precious little money left to take up the fight.
Government must act now. We need desalination plants, dams to stop the water before it hits the sea and sensible water regimes to enforce on citizens.
As citizens, we are as much to blame for excess use.
We love our swimming pools, washing our cars, watering our gardens, and taking long showers and full baths. We pay little heed to the future if everything is good now.
We need to heed the urgent call to save water. In doing so, we just might save our future.