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JOBURG – With the ongoing water crisis continuing to impact South Africa, the government, industry and civil society came together to address the issue at the 'Securing our Shared Water Future' discussion.
The discussion took place in Sandton on 24 November and saw various problems around the water crisis addressed by a panel of experts.
One of the issues raised was the partnership between government, industry and communities, regarding their engagement in and around water conservation.
Samson Mokoena, founder of Vaal Environment Justice, tackled government saying there was little engagement on government’s part to include poor communities.
“The reality is, government has failed to come to the party regarding this conversation; we are now hoping that previously disadvantaged communities are brought to the fore and included in the dialogue,” he said.
Two other issues discussed were fracking and mining, with questions raised on the impact each one posed on underground resources.
Anil Singh, deputy director general, regulations and compliance of the Department of Water and Sanitation, addressed both issues and highlighted the need to find a balance between conserving water resources and economic development.
“As government, we agree that fracking needs to be monitored because of the potential impact on underground resources, and we also need to consider how much is known about the impact of fracking on these resources,” he said.
Singh added that government had undertaken feasibility studies and liaised with other countries, such as the United States, as a way to learn from their experiences.
Another issue highlighted was that of using water as a commodity, instead of as just a service; an issue discussed by Joanne Yawitch, chief executive officer of the National Business Initiative.
“The reality is, we’ve been using water as if it is an infinite source and this cannot be the case, especially with it being a scarce commodity in the country,” she said.
She added that many companies were now looking at economical and viable ways of recycling water, with one way having to look into potentially converting acid mine water to different qualities of water, which can be used by industry.
Other speakers at the meeting included Dhesigan Naidoo, chief executive officer of the Water Research Commission and Dr Mark Dent, regional manager of SA Alliance for Water Stewardship Standards.
The panel discussion took place at Hilton Hotel and was chaired by Aubrey Masango, host of Talk at Nine on Radio 702.
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