News and updates from the continent

TKAG raises 2020 water shortage concerns

TKAG raises 2020 water shortage concerns

May 11, 2015

“When it comes down to drinking water or burning gas, I can’t think of a single person who can do without water.” This is the view of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) CEO Jonathan Deal to a report from the University of Pretoria’s Center for the Study of Governance Innovation. In an analysis piece that appeared on 5 May 2015 in Business Day, Prof. Lorenzo Fioramonti, director of the Center, wrote that South Africa could [almost certainly will] be facing significant water shortages by 2020.

Prof. Fioramonti stated that the looming water crisis might dwarf the current electricity crisis and that three main factors are to blame, namely resource depletion (and contamination), the growing demand for water and inefficient and ageing infrastructure. A decrease in rainfall in many parts of the country as a result of climate change may further exacerbate the problem. He criticised the way in which the South African economy treats water as it constantly demands more, while at the same time depletes and contaminates existing resources.

National cost and budget

The article referenced a recent government report which estimated the costs involved in preventing a full-scale water crisis in the next four years at almost R300 billion, roughly more than 100 times the budget allocated by the Treasury to water management nationwide.

Shale gas and water

This warning was issued around the same time as yet another study emerged from the United States that questioned the safety of shale gas mining and the long-term integrity of well casings. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America by a research team from Pennsylvania State University claimed that traces of chemical compounds detected in drinking water may have migrated laterally from deeper to shallower depths following shale gas drilling in the region.

Deal said: “The government’s indecent rush to licence shale gas exploration and ultimately full scale production illustrates that not only has it ignored the recent global developments in the rejection of shale gas, but that it is prepared to gamble with South Africans’ water supplies in a bid to escape the energy and employment mess facing it.

“Not only is this disingenuous but it flies in the face of the duty of elected officials to serve the best interests of the people. Fracking is rapidly becoming an international pariah and if it is let loose in SA, those who were instrumental in such a blunder will find no place to hide from the people.”

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