Where is our Water?

Water, the lifeblood of our country, is South Africa’s biggest crisis, currently being masked by good rains in the north of the country. Our internationally acclaimed Constitution and 1998 National Water Act (now 18 years old!) written to remedy the Apartheid ills are not being applied .

Our rivers and streams, the arteries and veins of our country, are drying up and becoming polluted. Upstream farmers are taking all the water while communities downstream have nothing. Streams are no longer flowing in many areas and our estuaries, the breeding grounds for our oceans’ fish, are polluted and severely damaged.

Millions of South Africans are without water in their homes and on their land.


For a clear and present-day example look no futher than Lemoenshoek near Barrydale in the Klein Karoo. While it has been possible to hide the abuse of natural resources from the public eye for many years, this year’s drought, highlighted Government’s seeming inability to apply the laws that are perfectly designed to ensure equity and protect society’s vulnerable.

On the one end of the disaster is an historically disadvantaged Farmer farming on behalf of a BEE Trust who has had his farm dried out completely as a result, leaving most of his sheep and lambs to die.

The Doring River, now flowing upstream, no longer flows over his farm.

It is time Government acted responsibly for all South Africans and not just the few that have found ways to abuse the resources, while seemingly protected by the very authorities entrusted to protect the communities.

Responsible Water Practices include:

– Protection of our streams and rivers that are essential to the survival of our country .

– Protection of our riverine bush – essential to the survival of these streams and rivers.

– Removal of water thirsty alien plants.

– Responsible selection of non-water-thirsty crops in arid areas.

– Measuring and monitoring of water usage and storage.

Devastating levels of drought are being recorded in the Western Cape. The threat of empty dams is visible and real to ordinary South Africans as they are urged to reduce their  water consumption… but will that be enough if we cannot apply the laws that are written to protect our environment?

The clock is ticking…

Written by: Richard Butt, local resident (Twitter: @sawatercrisis)