The National Development Plan (NDP) 2030, which Minister in the Presidency responsible for National Planning Trevor Manuel on Wednesday handed over to President Jacob Zuma, has stressed the importance of improving water supply, use and management, highlighting a “growing concern about the potential impact of water-related risks”.
South Africa ranks 128 out of 132 countries in Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index and according to the United Nations 'World Water Development Report 2012', it ranks 148 out of 180 countries for water availability per capita.
The NDP has set a number of targets that had to be met by 2030 to afford all South Africans access to sufficient and safe water.
It stated that the country would have to approve its National Water Resource Plan by the end of this year and that it had to be reviewed every five years, along with the water resource investment plan.
By 2015, the institutional arrangements of the national resource plan should be implemented, especially if institutional memory and continuity in management was to be ensured. The NDP highlighted current administrative failures and lack of enforcement as serious concerns, adding that it was indicative of the erosion of institutional memory in the water sector, along with the loss of experienced water engineers and scientists.
More targets for 2015 were the establishment of a national water resource infrastructure agency to develop and manage large economic infrastructure systems; catchment management agencies to undertake resource management on a decentralised basis; development of national capacity to support the research, development and operation of water reuse and desalination; a dedicated national water conservation and demand management programme.
In terms of water conservation and demand management, the NDP called for clear national and local targets for 2017 and 2022 with specific subprogrammes focused on managing water demand of municipalities, industry and agriculture. The plan identified the agricultural sector as being the largest volume user of water and stated that the farming sector would have to increase its water efficiency significantly.
Within the investment programme for water resource development, the NDP identified some major projects targeted for completion between 2017 and 2020. These included water-reuse and groundwater projects in the Western Cape which would need to be finished by 2017; strengthening of the management of water services and the establishment of regional water and wastewater utilities to support municipalities due in 2017 and completing Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Project to supply the Vaal system by 2020.
The NPD envisages that, should these issues be addressed successfully before 2030 then all South Africans would have affordable and reliable access to sufficient safe water and hygienic sanitation and that by 2030 effective management of water and the related services would support a strong economy and a healthy environment, with water being recognised as a foundation for activities such as tourism and recreation.
Further outcomes would be that in 2030 increasingly efficient use of water in the agricultural sector will support productive rural communities, and natural water resources will be protected to prevent excessive water use and pollution.