14 July 2017

South Africa: Water Can't Be Saved Without Change

Following all the rules to save water might be a great way of conserving the precious natural resource, but it won't work if it's done by some of the people some of the time.

A major shift in societal mindsets, behaviour and attitude is the only way to make sure that water saving efforts are effective and sustainable, says the Department of Water and Sanitation's Acting Deputy Director-General for Infrastructure, Leonardo Manus.

Manus was one of several speakers at a roundtable hosted by the department, in partnership with engineering company, GIBB and Sunlight, one of the leading manufacturers of laundry and dishwashing detergents.

Held on Thursday at the GIBB headquarters in Johannesburg, the roundtable was a platform to discuss ways in which water saving and use can be more effective to aid future security efforts, and expand the pool of water resources in the country.

Participants at the roundtable said human behaviour change towards water remains a challenge that contributes to water scarcity in the country.

They said while new technologies are vital to increasing water supply, some social problems cannot be solved with technical solutions.

Public awareness campaigns are needed to effect change in the way people respond to certain situations that result in water losses.

Manus said stakeholders have to become craftier in the way they see water use and management, as demand is escalating at a rate higher than supply.

"Over time, cities have generated unnatural demand for water and as more people move to the cities, there will be economic growth that comes with the introduction of industrial manufacturing.

"This increases demand for water. Meanwhile, our water resources remain the same. There is therefore a definite need to relook at how we handle our water resources and most importantly, how we use water."

The roundtable discussion is just one of the initiatives that the department has in place to rope in the private sector to ensure collective solutions to water challenges.

Desalination of seawater and the reuse of waste water into potable water were the main alternatives discussed during the roundtable.

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