SOUTH AFRICA: Water week to act as reminder that prices are rising

Water prices will rise over the coming years and South Africa's Ministry of Water Affairs and Forestry is using National Water Week to draw attention to the ongoing re-organisation of water management.

Nineteen Water Management Areas have been drawn up over the past year, paving the way for Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs) to be established. The first CMA to be created will be for the Nkomati/ Sand/ Crocodile water management area in Mpumalanga. Other CMAs will form over the coming years.

In addition to re-organising water management around catchments, South Africa’s government has also been working on changes to the price of water. “A new water pricing policy for raw water was gazetted in late 1999,” says a statement from the Ministry of Water Affairs and Forestry issued last month. “This pricing policy is intended to move the country towards a more realistic price for raw water, which has been heavily subsidised in the past, particularly in the agricultural sector.”

Price rises are required, according to the Government, in order to pay for investment in infrastructure and for the catchment-based management structure. Although prices are set to rise, the Government has promised to issue “policy on the provision of subsidies for emerging farmers”.

For those raw water consumers who have already been paying for water, the new price structure will come into force in April, but it will take another year for officials to register all water users and begin charging them.

South Africa’s National Water Week runs from 17 to 26 March, with the country’s president and cabinet kicking off the week by participating in a water clean-up day in Cape Town on 15 March.

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