South Africa Water

Topics: Water supply, Water purification, Water Pages: 11 (1904 words) Published: February 26, 2014
South Africa
Water Treatment technologies in SA

Compiled by: Jonathan Lincoln

Swiss Business Hub South Africa (SBHSA)
Pretoria, December 2011



Overview and trends
Water supply and sanitation in South Africa is characterized by both achievements and challenges. After the end of Apartheid South Africa's newly elected government inherited huge services backlogs with respect to access to water supply and sanitation. About 15 million people were without safe water supply and over 20 million without adequate sanitation services. The government thus made a strong commitment to high service standards and to high levels of investment subsidies to achieve those standards. Since then, the country has made some progress with regard to improving access to water supply: It reached universal access to an improved water source in urban areas, and in rural areas the share of those with access increased from 62% to 82% from 1990 to 2006.

Less progress has been achieved on sanitation: Access increased from 55% to 59% only during the same period. Significant problems remain concerning the financial sustainability of service providers, leading to a lack of attention to maintenance. The uncertainty about the government's ability to sustain current funding levels in the sector is also a concern.

Geography & Climate

South Africa occupies the
southern tip of Africa and has a
long coastline of 2 500 km.
Although classified as semiarid, there is a considerable
variation in climate and topography. There are seven major
biomes or habitat types with
distinct environmental conditions and related sets of plant
and animal life.

Rainfall varies considerably from west to east. In the northwest, annual rainfall often remains below 200 millimetres. Much of the eastern Highveld, in contrast, receives 500 millimetres to 900 millimetres of rainfall per year; occasionally, rainfall there exceeds 2,000 millimetres. A large area of the centre of the country receives about 400 millimetres of rain, on average, and there are wide variations closer to the coast. The 400-millimeter "rainfall line" has been significant because land east of the rainfall line is generally suitable for growing crops, and land west of the rainfall line, only for livestock grazing or crop cultivation on irrigated land.



Average temperatures in ºC


Cape Town












Source: Lew Leppan: The South African Book of Records. Cape Town, Don Nelson, 1999.

As can be seen from the above, much of South Africa has a water availability problem. This is particularly true of the western regions which can be classed as semi-arid or arid. SA has no navigable rivers and the combined flow of all its rivers is less than half of that of the Zambezi River. The local geology of hard rock worsen the situation in that there are few exploitable aquifers and the country’s numerous artificial dams (lakes) are subject to a high rate of evaporation. South Africa has an abundance of natural resources, but unfortunately water is not one of them. The government has admitted that water demand could exceed supply by as early as 2013 if drastic actions are not undertaken. The existing problem is exacerbated by climate change and the economic growth that SA is achieving. The right to have sufficient water is guaranteed under the constitution and access to running water has now reached 88 per cent. However SA needs large amounts of water for industrial use, mining and electricity production. As a consequence the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs announced a crack down on water polluters and announced a budget of $36 billion for water projects over the next 5 to 8 years.

Water Quality management
Many of the water quality problems can be attributed to human intervention and/or the geological characteristics...
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