NATIONAL WATER WEEK 18-24 MARCH 2013
The Department of Water Affairs is appealing to all South Africans top play a role in conserving and protecting the country’s water resources. This appeal is made ahead of National Water Week 18-24 March, celebrated this year under the theme: Water is Life- Respect it, Converse it, Enjoy it.The theme seeks to emphasise the role of water as central to all forms of life while it also urges everyone to play a part in conserving it.
This year’s National Water Week comes at a time when this precious finite resource faces a number of challenges across the country. These include among others, water shortages in certain municipalities and reported water quality concerns. The affected areas include but are not limited to municipalities in the Free State, Mpumalanga and the North West Province. However the Department is working closely with municipalities in these areas to urgently address these challenges in the short, medium to long term.
Our Rapid Response Unit of the Department have been deployed to some of the affected areas and progress is being made to address the current challenges. The causes of the water shortages vary according to the different problems faced by the municipalities. In areas where issues of inadequate infrastructure have been identified officials are undertaking upgrade and repair work, in others, the recent excessive heat or high temperatures that have been experienced have led to the reservoirs drying up and thus affecting water availability and supply.
It is clear that the Department and the sector have to move in earnest to implement the long term measures which are aimed at addressing these enduring challenges in our localities. The finalization of the National Water Resource Strategy 2 and implementation of the Water Infrastructure Investment Plan will assist us in moving forward speedily. A renewed sense of urgency and commitment in water management and enduring partnerships with the private sector and entire South African society is needed to deal with the challenges of water availability and security of supply.
Water week serves as a platform to among other things make South Africans aware of the fact that our country is among the driest in the world and that water conservation is the responsibility of all within our borders. A recent report by the Water Research Commission, which will also be officially released by the Minister during National Water Week, indicates that almost half of our drinking water is lost in the distribution system. This water is lost among others, through leaking taps, pipes and illegal connections. As such, a heightened awareness about the value of water in relation to our own behavior requires a shift in our mindset as citizens and people who rely on water for survival.
In addition, the Water Week Campaign is aimed at:
Educating the public about their responsibility in water conservation initiatives.
Raising awareness around the need to protect and conserve the country’s water resources.
· Highlighting the contribution that water makes to social and economic development.
Water Week also has the objective of seeking to re-emphasize the important role water plays in sustaining all forms of life in society and the linkages between water services, water resource management, water quality management and water conservation and water demand management
During Water Week Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Ms Edna Molewa will lead a series of events around the country to highlight some of the efforts being undertaken by the Department to ensure a constant and secure supply of this precious resource.
Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi, is also expected to host events aimed at raising awareness about the need to protect our water resources and further initiatives of the Department in this regard.
We are also encouraged that our partners in the water sector, including civil society organizations, industry, provincial and local government are also hard at work to spread the crucial message of water conservation.
This year’s National Water Week will kick-off with the launch of a completed project of national strategic importance which emphasizes the vital link between Water and Energy in South Africa. A calendar of events for this period can been found on the website at: www.dwa.gov.za
The Department is also pleased that this year’s celebrations coincide with the United Nations (UN) General Assembly declaring 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. We will in this regard also showcase the work that the Department is doing with the SADC and the rest of the world in sharing best practice in water management.
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