Rapid urbanisation is contributing to a deterioration in South Africa’s water quality, Department of Water and Sanitation water quality planning scientific manager Pieter Viljoen said on Wednesday.
Addressing delegates at an integrated water quality management symposium, in Centurion, Gauteng, he explained that the country’s water infrastructure was overloaded, owing to the influx of people migrating to urban areas.
“There is a major increase in the volume of waste going into wastewater treatment plants and the current infrastructure [in large metros] can’t cope with it,” Viljoen said.
He highlighted that urbanisation was a massive socioeconomic challenge that needed to be tackled, stressing that it was imperative to stimulate the economy in smaller towns so that fewer people feel the need to seek better opportunities in the large metros.
Viljoen said the amount of wastewater and raw sewage flowing into South Africa’s water resources, was a major challenge. Deteriorating municipal water treatment infrastructure was another concern.
“There is also lack of finance from local government to address this problem. Financial resources available are insufficient and do not recognise the investment required to counteract economic harm.”
A failure by municipalities to collect the required revenue negatively impact on their ability to maintain municipal water treatment infrastructure.
A lack of alignment and coordination within and between government departments also negatively impacts on the country’s water resources.
“Water quality management is often hampered by poor coordination and conflicting approaches,” stated Viljoen.