Water department spends R21-million on cholera

About R21-million has been spent on controlling the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe and a further R80-million will be allocated to affected areas, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Lindiwe Hendricks said on Monday.

Speaking at the launch of the Water For Growth and Development Framework in Johannesburg, Hendricks said water tankers, engineers and technicians were sent to Zimbabwe to repair infrastructure and ensure access to clean drinking water in response to the cholera outbreak.

The framework was approved by Cabinet in January.

“This framework is a groundbreaking initiative to ensure that there is sufficient water in both quality and quantity.

“Water availability and quality have been negatively affected by illegal abstraction of water, water pollution and poor management of resources,” she said.

She added that if remedial action was not taken Gauteng could experience water shortages from 2013 to 2025.

“Fortunately this will not happen given the recent decision by Cabinet to proceed with the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

“We have made much progress and we are confident that the universal access to water and sanitation services will be completed by 2014,” she said.

According to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, a programme was launched last year to deal with the illegal abstraction of water and water pollution.

“Our River Health Programme, remediation in specific dams already undertaken in Hartbeespoort Dam, more resources to deal with polluters and the implementation of the ‘Green Drop’ certificate to recognise cities that comply with required standards, are initiatives we are embarking on,” she said.

Hendricks said all tap water in South Africa is safe to drink, even though at times it does not meet technical standards.

“Of the 3 000 samples taken nationwide, about 94% to 98% complied with the South African National Standards of drinking water.

“The failing six percent of the samples do not persistently occur in the same location but varies across the country. In some areas, this may be due to a stolen or broken water pump.

“To address this, a further amount of about R4-billion has been allocated to deal with the upgrading and augmenting of municipal infrastructure,” she said.

She added that South African tap water was ranked among the best in the world because the country had similar water service systems to developed countries.

“South Africa is one of only few countries where one can drink water directly from a tap,” said Hendricks.—Sapa

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