The National Water Resource Strategy 2 builds on the first National Water Resource Strategy published in 2004. The purpose of the NWRS2 is to ensure that national water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in an efficient and sustainable manner towards achieving South Africa’s development priorities in an equitable manner over the next five to 10 years. This Strategy responds to priorities set by Government within the National Development Plan (NDP) and National Water Act imperatives that support sustainable development. The National Water Resource Strategy 2 acknowledges that South Africa is a water-stressed country and is facing a number of water challenges and concerns, which include security of supply, environmental degradation and resource pollution, and the inefficient use of water.
In the context of the need for growth, equity and protection of water resources, this Strategy identifies three broad objectives: water supports development and the elimination of poverty and inequality; water contributes to the economy and job creation; and water is protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in an equitable and sustainable manner. The response to the strategic context and the imperatives set out above is delivered through strategic themes, which discuss in detail the context and challenges, key principles to be sustained, objectives of that particular theme and then proposes strategic actions to achieve the stated objectives.
The Strategy recognises that the manner in which water was allocated in the past was unequal and favoured only the white section of the population in South Africa. The National Development Plan (NDP) and National Water Act (NWA) collectively inform the intended means to redress past imbalances in the manner in which water was allocated. The perspective of equity in the Strategy is three dimensional and includes equity in access to water services, equity in access to water resources and equity in access to the benefits from water resource use through economic, social and environmental development and management. The Strategy intends to achieve these objectives through the use of the Water Allocation Reform programme and mechanisms proposed, which include water set aside specifically for redress, compulsory licensing, general authorisations, development support and partnerships to ensure that water is made available to previously disadvantaged groups.
The water resource protection theme emphasises the need to protect our fresh water ecosystems, which are under threat because of pollution from many sources. The need for determination and preservation of the ecological Reserve and the classification of our river fresh water systems will be a priority. This will assist to determine the nature and the extent of pollution in order to provide appropriate rehabilitation solutions. The Strategy stresses the need for the value of water to be appreciated and for the attitudes and habits of all citizens to change towards water and to work towards its protection. It is reported that climate change will progressively alter the environment in future and present new challenges. The effects of climate change include higher temperatures, altered rainfall patterns and increased occurrence of drought and floods.
The Strategy proposes the development of adequate capacity within the sector and the country for monitoring and effective detection and adaptation to protect water and to ensure sustainable water supplies into the future. Reconciliation Strategies project depletion in the water supplies for some water supply systems in the country. In light of the urgency to protect our water resources and the adverse effects of climate change, the National Water Resource Strategy 2 submits that water conservation and water demand management should be one of the top priorities, and measures to reconcile demand and supply in order provide for all our goals of a better life for all through job creation and economic growth.
Research published by the Water Research Commission (WRC) in 2013 indicates that Non-Revenue Water (NRW) for urban supply systems over the past six years was at an average of 36.8%, which is equal to 1 580 million m3/a from a total urban consumption of approximately 4 300 million m3/a. This research also indicates that in many municipal water supply schemes, the figures are even worse, with NRW in some cases up to 90%. The irrigation sector, which uses up to 60% of the country’s water resources, accounts for losses of between 35% and 45%.
While some municipalities and other institutions have begun to address the challenge of water loss, the National Water Resource Strategy 2 emphasises that effort must be intensified with specific targets set to reduce water loss. Water conservation and water demand management measures will have multiple benefits in terms of the postponement of infrastructure augmentation, mitigation against climate change, support to economic growth and ensuring that adequate water is available for equitable allocation. This requires appropriate institutional arrangements and effective governance.
The management and implementation of water strategies requires competent and accountable management. The Strategy outlines the institutional arrangements that will be established or strengthened to co-ordinate activities related to efficient water resource management within a defined geographical area or catchment boundary. The institutions will be required to perform their duties within a developmental management approach that values the involvement of all stakeholders in defining strategies and plans for management within their defined areas. Smart business approaches will be promoted within the total water value chain management and water footprint.
The National Water Resource Strategy 2 is developed within a changing environment and acknowledges that monitoring and collecting relevant data will not only affect the accurate assessments of the status of water resources and the magnitude of water problems, but will vastly improve planning and policy formulation processes. National water legislation (Section 68 of Water Services Act) requires the Minister to maintain a national information system to record and provide data on the development, implementation and monitoring of national policy.
The monitoring should not be done only for the sake of our national concerns, but also in response to our obligation within international river basins. Approximately 60% of the streamflow in rivers is shared through trans-boundary water systems. South Africa should ensure that Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is implemented in a manner that conforms to international water protocols and treaties, while being compliant with the legislation governing water resource management in South Africa.
A repository of water resource intelligence will facilitate better interpretation and response to the challenges associated with changing hydrological patterns, climate change, groundwater reserves and innovative responses for reference to the country and neighbouring states with whom we share river basins.
The National Water Resource Strategy 2 also strongly promotes technology and innovation to contribute to effective and efficient water management solutions that respond to the needs for water security and sustainability for individuals, communities, productive and strategic water use as well as ecosystem services. The research and innovation conducted by the WRC and other research bodies in areas such as wastewater treatment, water quality and water ecosystems, skills and capacity within the sector, climate change and water conservation and water demand management approaches have influenced the themes and interventions contained in this Strategy.
The Strategy promotes the development of a clear regulatory framework for water resources and coordinating regulatory standards and processes with other government departments and regulatory institutions. Compliance monitoring and enforcement is one of the priorities identified by the Strategy and legal, financial and forensic capacity will be developed to ensure effective prosecution for the ultimate protection of South African water resources against any illegal action by institutions or persons in contravention of the required quality and quantity standards.
The National Water Resource Strategy 2 emphasises that the achievement of the vision and objective will require support by strong institutions, competent and capacitated personnel with the requisite financial resources to implement interventions.
An investment framework for the Strategy, contained with the financial chapter, outlines the financial capital required to effectively implement all key programmes. This is done within the context that government, development institutions, the private sector and other funders will join hands to provide the necessary funding to support water resource management in the country.
The Strategy also defines the skills required to support effective implementation and outlines the Strategy that will
be adopted to raise skill levels through collaboration and partnership with various training and skills development institutions, including universities, Further Education & Training (FET) colleges and universities of technology. A collective approach will be sustained within the Water Sector Skills Task Team, which operates under the auspicious of the Water Sector Leadership Group, to identify the skills gap, and to develop relevant educational and training material and competencies at different levels.
The National Planning Commission’s Vision 2030 and alignment with National Water Resource Strategy 2.
The National Planning Commission has paid particular attention to water issues and how they impact on and influence our development pathways and opportunities. Table 1 illustrates some areas where strong alignment with the Vision 2030 targets and actions need to be made. Detailed plans and actions will be explored in the relevant sections of this document.