The protracted water problem in Limpopo will continue as the province owes the department of water and sanitation close to R800 million, according to Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.
Mokonyane was speaking at the Limpopo Local Government Summit at The Ranch Hotel, near Polokwane, on Tuesday.
The summit was attended by municipal managers, mayors, chief whips, council speakers, chief executive officers of government parastatals and councillors.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen was also among the dignitaries.
“Limpopo, alone, owes money to the tune of R769 million for water and we cannot say it is business as usual,” Mokonyane told the summit.
“They have to pay because it costs us money to collect water from the rivers and dams for consumption at municipal level,” she said.
Among others, Mokonyane singled out Mopani and Sekhukhune district municipalities as major culprits of not paying their water bills.
She said it was of vital importance for defaulting municipalities to pay the money they owed as their failure to come to the party was retarding service delivery in local government.
She further urged local and district municipalities to use every drop of water sparingly.
She said it took everyone, including ordinary citizens, to report vandalism of infrastructure and leaks.
Mokonyane said that despite recent good rainfall, the country still faced water challenges.
“Our dams are currently above 60% carrying capacity, but we are not yet out of the woods. We need more rain before we can echo a sigh of relief. The country is faced with a serious dilemma because in South Africa we do not have winter rain,” she said.
“We must also appeal to the agriculture sector to ensure that they use water sparingly during this time of drought. The agriculture sector is responsible for 60% of water use and if they can save at least 10%, then the country can survive the escalating unpredictable weather for the next 10 years.”
Mokonyane praised the Limpopo provincial government under Premier Stan Mathabatha for developing the Limpopo Water Master Plan.
The plan, according to Mokonyane, contains a wealth of information that could change the water landscape of the province for the better.
The minister said the plan spanned a 30-year horizon and was poised to be a source document for planning and servicing earmarked to address the province’s water woes.