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  • Availability: Does the country have plenty of drinking water or is it scarce?
  • Infrastructure: How widespread is access to safe drinking water and sanitation? What condition are pipes and sewers in?
  • Water usage: What is drinking water in this country used for? How much does every person use per day?
  • Projects: What projects regarding drinking water (supply or demand management) are planned, on-going or completed in this country?
  • Opportunities and threats: What are the biggest problems facing this country in the future? What is being done to solve them?
  • Norms and regulations: How is drinking water regulated? Are there efficiency standards for water-using appliances?
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South Africa

South Africa is home to four major cross-border river systems (Orange/Senqu, Limpopo, Incomati, Maputo), sharing them with a total of six neighbouring states (Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia).

Where does South Africa's drinking water come from?
Drinking water in South Africa is mostly abstracted from surface water in dams and rivers (9,500 million cubic metres per year). Around one third of the surface water yield (i.e. 3,000 million cubic metres per year) is moved via interā€basin transfers. Groundwater supplies around 2,000 million cubic metres per year 1.

So far desalination has only played a marginal role in South Africa's water supply, especially compared to other countries with a long coastline. However, there are recommendations to produce more desalinated water, as well as to increase the use of recycled water, in order to boost supplies.

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Does the country have plenty of drinking water or is it scarce?

Availability

South Africa's internal freshwater resources were 886 cubic metres per person in 2011 1. This means it is classified as a water-scarce country (availability below 1,000 cubic metres of internal freshwater per person and year), with less water available per person than in countries such as Morocco or Namibia.

South Africa's varied climate is split into nine zones which differ greatly in terms of precipitation and evaporation levels:

  • Subtropical plateau
  • Desert
  • Mediterranean
  • Semi-arid plateau
  • Moderate coast
  • Moderate eastern plateau
  • Subtropical coast
  • Escarpment
  • Subtropical lowveld
South Africa's average yearly rainfall amounts to approx. 450 millimetres 2, compared to a world average of more than 800 millimetres.

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How widespread is access to safe drinking water and sanitation? What condition are pipes and sewers in?

Infrastructure

In 2011, the World Health Organisation estimated access to an improved water source in South Africa at 91 per cent, and access to improved sanitation at 74 per cent 1.

The water leakage rate was estimated at 37 per cent in 2009; 35.3 cubic metres of water per kilometre of pipe were lost per day 2.

The Department of Water Affairs is responsible for South Africa's water sector. Its main task is to devise and implement water resource policies.



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What is drinking water in this country used for? How much does every person use per day?

Water usage

Total freshwater withdrawn in South Africa in 2011 was 12.5 billion cubic metres 1.

Domestic water use in South Africa was 190 litres per person and day in 2009 2.



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What projects regarding drinking water (supply or demand management) are planned, on-going or completed in this country?

Projects

As befits the overwhelming importance of drinking water supplies for South Africa, in 2004 the government devised a National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS) to guide its water resources management. This had been set out as a requirement in the 1998 National Water Act.

The second instalment of the NWRS, published in July 2012, places particular emphasis on water resource priorities and objectives for the years 2013-2017.

Limiting water leaks

The South African government has initiated a project to reduce water leaks in households, schools and other public buildings, by teaching young people basic plumbing skills and sending them out to fix leaky pipes 1.


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What are the biggest problems facing this country in the future? What is being done to solve them?

Opportunities and Threats

South Africa faces a two-fold challenge regarding its water supply: on the one hand, there needs to be sufficient water available to fuel the country's target economic growth. On the other hand, every citizen should have access to safe drinking water 1 at a reasonable price.

Pressures on water supply
Current and future pressures on South Africa's drinking water supply are outlined in the NWRS. High abstraction levels, on-going habitat destruction and pollution are leading to a diminishing supply. The main culprits regarding pollution are mining, urban development, industries and agriculture. Greenpeace has pointed out that South Africa's main source of energy, coal, uses vast amounts of water while adding significantly to the pollution problem 2. Climate change adds another dimension of pressure on water resources and is expected to cause more extreme weather events such as droughts and floods.

Limited access to drinking water
Large parts of the population, especially the rural poor, are still without access to good-quality drinking water.



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How is drinking water regulated? Are there efficiency standards for water-using appliances?

Norms and Regulations

Standard SANS 241:2011 by the SABS Standard Division sets out the quality requirements for drinking water in South Africa.

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Authors

10:45, 10 Mar 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
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