South Africa may be heading for a large water deficit of as much as 1.1-billion cubic metres by 2035, warns Water Research Commission (WRC) CEO Dhesigen Naidoo.
The country would require an estimated two-billion cubic metres of water by 2035, but this may not be enough, he told delegates at the African Utility Week in Cape Town.
Increased efforts to save water could, however, help to counter the anticipated water deficit.
Naidoo said South Africans needed to save far more water, with residents’ daily water use exceeding the global average.
“We are below the line when it comes to water-wise use and resource security is extremely low,” he pointed out.
Naidoo said new technologies also needed to be considered, while countries, including South Africa, needed to keep a sharp eye on global water and sanitation targets to free up more water.
“If we move to dry sanitation, poor flush sanitation and dual flush systems, we will release 30% of water in our municipalities immediately.”
Naidoo’s comments were in line with the findings of a report published by the Institute for Security Studies, which showed that South Africa was likely overexploiting its water resources at the national level, as water withdrawals exceeded reliable supply.
The WRC said important innovations around new sanitation, water treatment and wastewater treatment technologies, water efficiency measures and a war on leaks would help to ease water scarcity in South Africa.
Naidoo stated that the knock-on effects on water from global temperature change were “very, very real” in Africa and that countries had to adopt a more integrated approach.
“We are using water-intensive mechanisms to generate more power in the world, such as coal-fired power, while agricultural practices are often based far away from a water-efficient world.”
“As United Nations member countries, we have signed up to noble causes around the world. The Sustainable Development Goals are explicit about water and sanitation targets. We should all be moving towards much higher water availability.”