Water Affairs moves to curb unlawful water use in Vaal River system | Infrastructure news

The Department of Water Affairs is making good progress in efforts to eradicate unlawful irrigation in the Vaal River System by 2014, according to a statement released by the Department’s spokesperson Linda Page on 24 July 2013.

“The focused effort and intervention has already stopped 51 million m3/annum ( cubic meters per annum) of unlawful water use,” said Page.

According to the Department, water use from the Vaal River System equals the available resources and any further increases will make the system vulnerable to drought. As such continuous higher than average rainfall is needed in the next few critical years to prevent restrictions when the dams’ levels are low.

These were also among the key issues of the latest Strategy Steering Committee meeting of the Vaal River System held. The committee comprises representatives of agriculture, local authorities, water service providers, mines, energy and industry sectors, national departments and provincial government, representing a wide variety of stakeholder groups in the Vaal River System. It gives guidance to the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) in monitoring the implementation of various actions needed to ensure sufficient water is made available to supply the water needs now and for the next thirty years.

According to the statement, the actions of the Reconciliation Strategy are to eradicate unlawful irrigation water use of 175 million m3/annum by the year 2014, continue with the implementation of Water Conservation and Water Demand Management to achieve targeted savings of 195 million m3/annum by 2015 and implement Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project to deliver water to the Vaal River System by the year 2020.

Further actions include addressing underground mine water induced salt-loading (acid mine drainage) by 2015 and the eradication of unlawful irrigation water use The original target date of 2012 for eradicating the unlawful use has been revised to 2014 by which time it is expected that intensified interventions would have addressed 175 million m3/annum in unlawful water use. Regulations have been proposed to assist with enforcement and a special team was nominated to drive the related stakeholder consultation process.

“Vaal has been noted by water users and there is a clear indication that numerous unlawful water users have stopped their over abstraction without any direct action being taken by the Department,” concluded Page.

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