South Africa has partnered with Iran to develop desalination plants along all coastal communities to boost water supplies, the water minister said on Wednesday, as the worst drought in living memory dries dams.
South Africa last year record its lowest annual rainfall levels since comprehensive records began in 1904 as an El Nino-driven drought rips through the region, putting millions at risk of food shortage.
“Now with the partnership that we have entered into through the binational commission between South Africa and Iran we want to go full steam,” Nomvula Mokonyane told reporters.
She said the first investment meeting with Iran, where President Jacob Zuma visited last month, takes place next month and that there were no indicative costs at this stage.
The largest desalination plant in South Africa, which converts salty seawater to drinkable water, is situated in Mossel Bay along the Western Cape where it helped supply water to state oil company PetroSA’s gas-to-fuel refinery.
“We have been over-dependent on surface water,” Mokonyane said, adding that government would focus on all coastal municipalities in three provinces, including the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal.
South Africa’s weather woes have been largely attributed to a powerful El Nino system, a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific that occurs every few years with global consequences.
Residents of Moqhaka Local Municipality in the Free State will be fined R2 000 if they water their gardens during the current drought, said spokesperson Khojane Madiba.
He said that due to the lack of rain, the municipality had resorted to restricting water use and cutting the supply water for several hours on certain days – or water shedding as it has.
“Our dams are running dry and there is little water and we all have to help each other,” said Madiba.
“We have followed the restriction by-laws, which we implemented earlier this month.
“Residents are not allowed to water their gardens, they are also not allowed to wash their cars using hosepipes, they can only use buckets, and those with swimming pools are not allowed to fill them up,” he said.
The municipality includes Kroonstad, Maokeng, Steynsrus, Matlwangtlwang, Viljoenskroon and Rammulotsi.
In Steynsrus and Matlwangtlwang, water will be unavailable from 20:00 to 06:00 from Monday to Sunday, Viljoenskroon and Rammulotsi will be without water from 18:00 to 04:00 from Sunday to Friday, while in Kroonstad and Maokeng taps will run dry from 20:00 to 04:00 from Sunday to Friday.
“If residents do not adhere to the rules, they will be fined R2 000.”
Meanwhile, the DA MPL in the Free State James Letuka said access to a clean and dependable water supply is a basic human right.
“Water shedding plays dangerously close to violating this right,” he said.
Water was also a crucial resource for agriculture and industry. The implementation of water shedding would negatively impact on the Moqhaka local economy, which might result in job losses and threaten food security, said Letuka.