The Department of Water Affairs continues to focus on meeting water targets; managing South Africa’s scarce water resources for long-term sustainability; improving the regulatory and institutional environment; spearheading transformation in the water sector; and supporting the development of water resources infrastructure. Ongoing key challenges include the department’s role as a sector leader for water services.
The department adopted the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM)approach, which provides a more holistic approach to water management. The IWRM requires intensive planning to ensure efficient, equitable and sustainable management of water resources and for coping with conflicting demands.
The department developed two key strategic frameworks to guide it, namely the National Water Resource Strategy in South Africa of 2004, and the Water for Growth and Development Framework of 2008.The strategy seeks to achieve the reconciliation between the available water resources with growing requirements.
The Water for Growth and Development Framework guides actions and decisions that will ensure water security in terms of quantity and quality to supportSouth Africa’s requirements for economic growth and social development.
Water and sanitation
Between April and December 2011, 449 082 people received a basic water supply. This means that South Africa has surpassed the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people without sustainable water and is likely to achieve the 2014 goal of universal access to potable water, despite the challenge of an ever-increasing number of households.
Major dams of South Africa
Full supply capacity
Did you know?
South Africa is supporting the security of its water supply by
ensuring the completion of several major new water projects
around the country by 2014.
The projects include the Mokolo Augmentation Project to supply water to the planned Medupi Power Station in Lephalale in
Limpopo, and the Mooi-Mgeni Transfer Scheme Project, which will
include the construction of the Spring Grove Dam around eThekwini/
Durban and Umgungundlovu in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Blue Drop and Green Drop certification programmes are flagship innovations of the Department of Water Affairs.
Introduced in 2008, this incentive-based regulation system
aims to improve municipal drinking-water quality and wastewater
South Africa's drinking-water quality matches best international
practice and follows the guidelines set out by the World
As it involves a benchmark score of
95%, the Blue Drop certification is the recognition of exceptional
performance, and should not be equated to a pass
mark. It simply credits exceptional drinking-water quality.
In 2011, the Blue Drop Certification Programme verified
the status of drinking-water quality and the management of the supply systems of 162 municipalities.
Teams from the
department assessed 914 water systems, compared to the
787 systems assessed in 2009.
In 2010/11, 66 water supply systems were awarded Blue
Drop certificates, which was an increase of 74% from the 38
systems in 2009/10.
Working for Water (WfW)
Invasive alien species cause billions of rands of damage
to South Africa's economy every year, and are one of the
biggest threats to the country's biological biodiversity.
Of the estimated 9 000 plants introduced to this country,
198 are classified as invasive.
It is estimated that these plants
cover about 10% of the country and the problem is growing at
an exponential rate.
The fight against invasive alien plants (IAPs) is spearheaded
by the WfW Programme. Since its implementation in
1995, more than one million ha of IAPs have been cleared.
WfW's aim is to reduce the impact of "water-guzzling" invasive
species and protect indigenous biodiversity.
The project has been very effective and has seen the
steady recovery of indigenous biodiversity in cleared areas
and wetlands. It has seen the rebirth of flowing streams where riverbeds had been perennially dry. WfW runs over 300 projects across South Africa.
Did you know?
South Africa's first Atlas of Freshwater Ecosystem Priority
Areas was launched in Pretoria in November 2011. The atlas
provides the first comprehensive assessment of the freshwater
ecosystem priority areas − those areas of the country that are
most important for sustaining the health and continued functioning
of freshwater ecosystems.
Maps were developed for each of the water management areas in South Africa. The maps facilitate informed choices and trade-offs
that can be made based on a clear understanding of where valuable
freshwater ecosystems are located.
Dams and water schemes
Bulk infrastructure is a critical element of water-services
infrastructure and an integrated part of water-services management.
Initiatives to identify and establish new water resources are
occurring for both surface and groundwater.
Government has implemented key projects to augment
South Africa's water resources:
- The Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority has procured funding
to implement the Mokolo and Crocodile River West Water
Augmentation Project's first two phases with a total cost of
about R2 billion, to deliver water to Eskom's new Medupi
power station and other industries in the area, as well as
domestic water to the Lephalale Local Municipality. The
first water delivery is expected in 2014.
- In KwaZulu-Natal on the Mooi River, near Rosetta, a
R2,2-billion contract was awarded for the construction of
the 42 m-high Spring Grove Dam, with a storage capacity
of 142 million m3. The first water delivery is expected late
- R91,2 million was spent in 2011/12 to raise the Hazelmere
Dam, to augment the water supply provided by Umgeni
Water to KwaZulu-Natal's north coast.
- Construction of the De Hoop Dam to deliver water for
domestic and agricultural use in the Greater Sekhukhune,
Waterberg and Capricorn district municipalities. The estimated cost of its construction is approximately
R3,1 billion. This will deliver water to three million Limpopo
- During 2011/12, the construction of a water conveyance system from the Vaal Dam to Secunda to augment the
water supply to Eskom power stations and Sasol was
commissioned, comprising abstraction works, a storage
reservoir, a high-lift pump station and a 121-km pipeline.
Did you know?
South Africa's strategic bilateral engagements remain critical
to advancing peace and security and enhancing water security
in the region. In this regard, South Africa has developed strategic
relations with neighbouring countries by signing cooperative
In 2011, South Africa signed the Statement of Intent on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project on the operation of
cross-border water supply with Swaziland. The Phase II Agreement
will augment the original treaty and the sale of hydro-electric power
to South Africa generated by the proposed Katse-Kobong Pump
Dam Safety Rehabilitation Programme (DSRP)
The department owns 314 dams. In 2004/05, a large number
of these were identified as being in need of rehabilitation
to bring their condition up to international standards. The
DSRP started in 2005/06. Some R1,35 billion was spent by
the end of 2010/11, completing the rehabilitation of 22 dams;
R300,8 million was spent in 2010/11 alone.
A number of dams are in various phases of planning and
design. The rehabilitation of 13 dams was in progress by the
end of 2010/11:
- Molepo, Nsami, Mashashane, Chuniespoort and Rust de Winter in Limpopo
- Klein Maricopoort in the North West
- Elandsdrift, Grassridge, Glen Brock, Mankazana, Laing and Magwa in the Eastern Cape
- Boegoeberg in the Northern Cape.
In his 2012 State of the Nation address, President Jacob Zuma indicated government's commitment to build a dam in the former Transkei part of the Eastern Cape, using the Umzimvubu River as a source, to expand agricultural