Unisa Professor of Geography specialising in water resource administration, Anja du Plessis said that South Africa’s old water infrastructure is pushing the country away from reliable and safe water supplies.

The infrastructure that is more than three decades old and failing is negatively affecting about 64% of access to usable water in the country.

“The Department of Water and Sanitation has been struggling, and there have been various problems with water projects not completed. If we live in a perfect world, we should have a private agency that could audit our water resources so that we know what we’re sitting with and we can make informed decisions,” said Du Plessis.

In addition, she said that old infrastructure that is not being maintained similarly to how Eskom was managed is leading to low levels of water supply, as seen in Cape Town and Gqeberha.

The City of Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation directorate recently advised residents to be more cautious about their water usage as current rainfall is noticeably lower than the year before.

Meanwhile, South Africa is a water-scarce country and having a working infrastructure ensures that the small amount of rain that does fall is preserved.

In a related case, Finance minister Enoch Godongwana has shown that progress in the water sector has been made under Operation Vulindlela, which aimed to accelerate the implementation of key growth-enhancing reforms.

Speaking at the release of the initiative’s second-quarter report on 7 August, Gondongwana said that draft legislation for the National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency has been finalised and will be published for public comment shortly. Gondongwana said that additional reforms around the monitoring of water quality at a municipal level would have a fundamental impact on the way in which the water sector is managed and will ensure future water security.