Home » Minister of Water and Sanitation calls for prudent water use at WISA Conference

Minister of Water and Sanitation calls for prudent water use at WISA Conference

by Media Xpose

“While we’re not facing an immediate water crisis, it doesn’t mean that South Africa is not a water scarce country and that water can be used recklessly,” said Mr Senzo Mchunu, Minister of Water and Sanitation speaking at the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA) Biennial Conference & Exhibition on Wednesday, 28 September 2022 at the Sandton Convention Centre which was attended by more than 1200 delegates attending in person and 400 attending online.

According to Minister Mchunu, the focus of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has so far been exclusively on bulk water resources management, leaving it dependent on the declining capacity in municipalities to deliver water to consumers. “We will now shift our focus and balance our attention to across the entire water value chain.”

“As DWS we can’t just point fingers at municipalities because consumers don’t know about and aren’t interested what the different spheres of government are responsible for; they just want water. So where there is no water, DWS will assist without disrupting the powers delegates to the municipality,” said Minister Mchunu.

Dr Lester Goldman, CEO of WISA, reiterated this sentiment. “The time for pointing fingers is over, and we can no longer wait for someone else to come up with a workable plan. We have to do work ourselves and do so collaboratively.”

“It is up to each and every individual role player in the water sector to take responsibility for changing the current course and navigate towards reaching Sustainable Development Goal 6: providing clean water and sanitation services for all,” said Dr Goldman.

Dr Goldman explained that WISA has a member base of approximately 3300 members from varying disciplinary backgrounds within the water sector and that the WISA Biennial Conference & Exhibition is the largest gathering in Southern Africa.

“When we started planning this year’s conference, we recognised that – as the water sector – we found ourselves off-course when measured by the lived experience of our passengers – both the residents of Southern Africa and the economic activities that support them. That’s why we chose Navigating the Course as the theme for the technical conference programme,” he added.

Mchunu remarked that the theme is quite appropriate as “we need to think about what it takes to navigate the course. As South Africans, we want to lead; it is in our nature to lead and navigate the course and what it may come with.”

“There needs to be a change of culture in municipalities so that failure to deliver must be seen as an anomaly, not as the norm. In addition, transformation in terms of water rights is still an imperative to ensure that no one is left behind.”

“We however can’t do this alone; we don’t have the necessary finances, knowledge and skills to do it alone. We therefore welcome the private sector to partner with us,” said Minister Mchunu.

The Chairperson of Rand Water, Ramateu Monyokolo said that it is important for the biennial WISA conference to “remain a constant feature in our space as it allows us to share knowledge and experience.”

“As human demand for resources increases, the environmental crisis will worsen even more. We are called to action to preserve this precious commodity! Innovation requires that water experts continue to challenge themselves to do things better than they did them yesterday. The conference will help us to come up with innovative ideas to alleviate the current situation,” Monyokolo concluded.

Images by Johnosea Media

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