What is the importance of water? “Water is life” is such a common expression that we use it almost as a cliché. However, that phrase is probably one of the most powerfully true messages the whole creation bears witness to. If, as we learn from geography, the earth is 2 3 water, and science says the human body is 70 water, then it goes without saying that no life can be sustained without water. So much has been written about the importance of water. From an early age we have been taught the water cycle and how it sustains life, but we still continue to take it for granted. We pollute water basins, rivers, and even the atmosphere that provides us with this precious commodity.

So, once again, let’s try to consider the extremely important message that water is everything and water changes everything. We take a look at the significant drop in dam levels from 2018 to 2019 for Limpopo and Mpumalanga as per DWAF reporting. Added the estimated water usage per area. Hopefully this will make us all realise that water is a problem and that we all have to start looking after our most valuable commodity.

Reservoir River Last year
Tzaneen Groot-Letaba 26.9 8
Kwena Crocodile 62.4 41.5

(Source: Department of Water and Sanitation Weekly State of the Reservoirs on 30.9.2019)

Water Use in South Africa

Agricultural Use (including irrigation) 60%
Environmental Use 18%
Urban & Domestic Use 11.5%
Mining & Industrial Use 10.5%

(Source: Nature Divided Land Degradation in South Africa, Ashwell, A & Hoffman, T, 2001)

Water Use in Households

Toilets 24%
Showers 20%
Washing Machine 17%
Other eg. cooking, washing dishes and clothes, drinking, etc. 8%
Faucet 19%
Leaks 12%

(Source: Water – How is it used at home, HE Jacobs, LC Geustyn and BF Loubser, 2016)

Households with Gardens

Gardening 46%
Other 54%

(Source: Water – How is it used at home, HE Jacobs, LC Geustyn and BF Loubser, 2005)

A further problem adding to this demand is water quality. Water quality is defined as water which is safe, drinkable and appealing to all life on earth. In South Africa the scarce fresh water is decreasing in quality because of an increase in pollution and the destruction of river catchments, caused by urbanization, deforestation, damming of rivers, destruction of wetlands, industry, mining, agriculture, energy use and accidental water pollution. As the human population increases, there is an increase in pollution and catchment destruction.

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