In 1999, water loss in Drakenstein stood at 34% and was steadily rising. The municipality prioritised projects to curb this loss and introduced a 20-year project plan, which included various water-loss prevention initiatives. The initiatives focused on sustainable pipe replacements in order for the supply to run effortlessly, tariffs to encourage less water use and public awareness over the importance of water conservation. These projects have brought down water loss to 13% for the 2015/2016 year. The most anticipated project is the Welvapas Water Treatment Works which is still under construction. The plant will purify an average of 10 million litres of water a day, but will have the capacity to pump 20 million litres in the near future.
This is a model example for other struggling municipalities – to invest in sustainable schemes in an effort to realise the basic human right of clean water. South Africa is currently experiencing a natural resource crisis with insufficient energy and dwindling mineral resources, and thus people often overlook the importance of water loss. Water is life and the reality is dawning upon government that positive action must be taken. The present generation needs sufficient access to clean water in order to improve their standards of living, as well as to guard against future generations suffering intolerable conditions that could have been avoided.
By Ms Sonam Mansingh: intern, Centre for Constitutional Rights