Johannesburg - Companies will increasingly have to be established in coastal areas owing to the desperate shortage of water in South Africa.
A new report by the international McKinsey consultancy says government needs to make an annual capital investment of $365m (about R2.8bn) in its national water infrastructure. If it does not do so, South Africa could experience a 30% shortage of water by 2030.
Johan van Rooyen, director of water resources planning at the Department of Water Affairs, says government is intensely aware of the situation and is working hard to avoid future water problems.
He points out that it is important for water to be used more economically. South Africans need to learn to employ it more effectively. Consumers in the metropolitan areas could, for instance, with little effort use up to 15% less.
The aim is to save more, but that is only a start. Some water borne toilet systems, for example, use up to 20 litres of water per flush. That's 20 litres of water that needs to be re-purified. Toilets that use five litres work just as well, Van Rooyen points out.
Linda Page, spokesperson for the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, says the McKinsey report was compiled with the cooperation of various parties, including the department.
These include bodies from the private sector, such as SABMiller and Coca-Cola.
The McKinsey report indicates that, if South Africa experiences a water shortage, various industries - like the industrial, agricultural and mining sectors - will have to compete with each other for the available water sources.
This could considerably elevate water prices, Van Rooyen points out. He says it could result in industries' increasingly having to settle at the coast.
Sea water would then be substantially cheaper to desalinate and use than fresh water.
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