The Covid-19 outbreak has put a strain on an already ailing water infrastructure in the country according to Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
Sisulu said the advent of the novel Coronavirus had put a strain on the country’s already ailing water infrastructure which was still experiencing the imbalance of equal distribution of resources such as water.
“Our country has suffered an imbalance during the dark days, of which many of you know of. The results are so embedded in infrastructure because those who historically had power benefited first, so it will take a bit of time to ensure the benefits reach every corner of the population,” Sisulu said.
Speaking during a ministerial panel discussion with her counterparts from Colombia, the Netherlands and Sweden, Sisulu said the advent of the novel Coronavirus has put a strain on the country’s already ailing water infrastructure.
She, however, said the new dispensation was doing its best to rewrite the wrongs and has improved its efforts to ensure water security for all.
“Since 1994, access to water supply has increased from only 55.1% of households having access to 88% in 2019.”
“This is a remarkable feat, noting the fact that the population increased from 40.56 million in 1994 to 58.7 million in 2019,” Sisulu said.
As part of the country’s intervention to curb the spread of Coronavirus, Sisulu said the Department of Water and Sanitation has established a National Command Centre, which oversees the distribution of water tanks and tankers to communities with dire water challenges as an immediate measure to help address challenges posed by COVID-19.
As part of the long-term interventions, Sisulu said the department would implement the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, which spells out the country’s plan to secure water for all by 2030 and beyond.
She said that the department was working with the Water Research Commission to come up with innovative ways to improve the provision of water and sanitation services across the country.
“The South African government is doing its utmost best to ensure that all its population has water. This is an opportune time for all of us to start valuing water, not only in a crisis, but even beyond.”
Vaal Dam levels have declined further this week, says the Department of Water and Sanitation.
“The dam fell from 39.6% last week to 38.8% this week. The dam has hovered under the neutral 50% mark for a number of months now, [and it had been at 61.3%] during the same week last year,” the department said on Thursday.
The Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS), which consists of 14 dams, including the Vaal Dam, has seen a drop this week.
“[The IVRS] fell from 61.8% last week to this week’s 60.8%. These present levels are lower compared to the 67.0% the dam reached in the same week last year,” the department said.
Grootdraai Dam has also recorded a drop to 79.4% this week, having been at 79.9% last week.
“Despite the fall, the present levels of the dam remain higher when compared to last year during the same time, when they stood at 62.9%,” the department said.
The levels of Bloemhof Dam are above average this week at 96.5%.
“This is despite the decrease from last week’s levels of 98.2%. During the preceding year at the same time, the dam floated at 96.7%, showing that the dam has been in a healthy state for a number of months up until now,” the department said.
In the Free State, Sterkfontein Dam is stagnant this week, remaining at 93.9% for the second consecutive week.
In the comparative period last year, it was equally strong at 92.2%.
“Mohale Dam in Lesotho is in a severely shrivelled state, as it looks set to continue to remain in a concerning position. Presently, the dam stands at 6.2% following its fall from last week’s 6.7%. In the same week last year, the dam was at 33.1%.
“Moving in the direction of the Mohale Dam is Katse Dam, which is also in Lesotho. This week, the dam took a further knock from a lowly 28.7% last week, to 27.7%. The dam hovers under the 50% mark and has not made any improvement from last year at the same time, when it was at 18.2%,” the department said.
The department called on water users to save water.