Understanding, valuing and caring for water in all its forms is essential for humankind’s survival, which is why the debates and outcomes from World Water Week 2022 (August 23 to September1) are critical for informing global thinking such as the UN Conference on the Water Action Decade taking place next year.
This is the opinion of South African National Bottled Water Association (SANBWA) CEO, Charlotte Metcalf.
“The world’s freshwater is under unprecedented pressure from fast-rising temperatures, populations, and consumption patterns,” she said.
“And World Water Week’s theme for this year’s event – Seeing the Unseen: The Value of Water – go a long way to help policymakers around the world understand the value of water. This should trigger much-needed decisions, innovations, and investments in managing water better.”
Metcalf said World Water Week has been running for 30 years and that this year’s edition will offer opportunities for those concerned about solving water crises connect face to face and online.
In South Africa, water issues in the spotlight recently not only include the droughts in several parts of the country including the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and floods in others as well as infrastructure problems and poor consumer behaviour.
The country is classified as being ‘water short’ and moving towards ‘water stressed’ in global terms, according to theconversation.com.
The country’s average annual rainfall is 450mm compared to the global average of 860mm. And only 8% of South Africa’s land area generates 50% of the volume of water in its river systems – which in turn account for most of the country’s water.
Poor water usage behaviour, especially by domestic water users, is a persistent issue. South Africans’ average domestic water use is an estimated 237 litres per capita per day. This is 64 litres higher than the international benchmark of 173 litres. This high use is partly attributed to high municipal non-revenue water.
Approximately 41% of water that’s pumped or produced in South Africa is ‘lost’ in a variety of ways before it reaches the water user or customer. This far exceeds the global best practice figure of 15%.
And, just days ago, the City of Cape Town issued a precautionary notice saying that ‘ongoing load shedding has had a detrimental effect on the City of Cape Town’s water supply’, affecting water quality that has not been able to be treated due to a lack of energy to operate the water treatment facility.
As a membership organisation, SANBWA’s aim is to ensure that these members continue to regard South Africa’s water resources with the utmost respect, and to understand how this respect can be evaluated and quantified.
Its environmental policy members to improve their environmental stewardship with respect to water to ensure effective water management water users taking both responsibility for and credit for responsible water management, right across their water usage cycle starting with source protection and extending to efficient water usage and responsible effluent practices. You can learn more at www.sanbwa.org.za.