New developments in various industries such as mining will always have a significant impact in the sustainability of natural and environmental resources. One such resource already enduring heavier natural and man-made threats is water. Over the years, it has been a continuous public and private sector struggle to conserve and protect water resources while ensuring that user basic water needs are met.
A continuous challenge remains to be water security for the future and also enough water for the national economic growth and development priorities.
The national water resource strategy states “the dynamics of water, equity, development and growth are complex where water resource management lies at the heart of country’s aspiration to achieve growth, sustainable development and poverty reduction.”
Surely there can never be growth and development without water and for any high water using industry to contribute protection and conservation of this fragile resource, water should be at the heart of all planning, financing and governing frameworks.
Water demands from the economic sectors such as mining, energy and agriculture, and the increasing urbanisation and industrialisation place an enormous pressure on the availability of water resource in terms of allocation and management.
According to Babalwa Fatyi, Managing Director of Myezo Environmental Management Services, South Africa is a water stressed country therefore water demand, resource management, together with development of surface water resources and efficient utilisation of groundwater resources are key.
According to an article published in eureau.org website, the water sector employs some 500,000 people (in th Europe Union), without counting the number of jobs created indirectly by water supply and sanitation in fields such as construction, research and technology development.
Clearly, a lot remains to be done in order to ensure that local and global water resources are effectively protected. And it for this reason that water services presents potential to be a positive contributor in terms of added value and employment in the sector of water collection, treatment, supply and sewerage.
Babalwa believes water in sectoral uses, for example, industry or agriculture creates employment opportunities and as such, government has a role to ensure this is equitably done.
“Government can support by providing access to the markets and funding of ventures that are in line with the water development goals, furthermore, promotes the values of efficiency and sustainability while improving people’s livelihoods.”
South Africa has a piece of legislation, the National Water Act (No. 36 of 1998), which was introduced to cater for fair and just allocations. The Water Services Act (No. 108 of 1997), also governs provision of water and sanitation services.
Implementation and monitoring of this statutory framework open opportunities for Business partnerships and collaborations.
Therefore, governments must continue doing their best as the policy developers, regulators, monitors and go above to take the role of being a supporting institutions.