As human populations increase, more energy is required for human activities such as cooking, lighting, etc.
The majority of our energy in South Africa comes from the burning of coal at power stations and results in greatly increased emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere.
These gases are the main cause of acid rain, which has a negative impact on the natural environment and human health.
Water is also essential in industry. It is heated and the steam is used to run machinery. Water is used to cool hot metal such as in the production of steel.
The R6,8bn Saldanha Steel facilities, situated on the Cape west coast roughly 10 km away from Langebaan Lagoon's ecologically sensitive wetlands, has been designed to produce 1.25 million tons of hot-rolled carbon steel coil per year.
Water is also used to cool the air. It is an important element in many products like chemicals, drugs, lotions, shampoos, cosmetics, cleaners, and also beverages.
Water is used in processing food and in innumerable factories and industrial processes including the manufacturing of paper.
Water used in processing foods and beverages must be absolutely clean, while other industries such as a manufacturing plant may use a lower quality of water.
Sport and Recreation
The annual Midmar Mile takes place in the Midmar Dam, on the Umgeni River, near Howick in KZN.
Recreation is another way that we use and enjoy our lakes, rivers and dams.
Many people enjoy fishing, boating, sailing, canoeing, rafting, and swimming, as well as many other recreational activities that depend on water.
Most of us enjoy at least one of these activities and would be disappointed if we could never do any of them again.
If our water is continually polluted though, then it could become dangerous to go swimming and all of the fish could die so that no one could go fishing either.
No one would enjoy boating, sailing, canoeing, or rafting in polluted water either.
We need to remember that it is important to guard our waters from becoming polluted.
Transportation is yet another way that we use water.
Many people use boats and ferries to commute to and from work every day.
People also enjoy going on cruise ships or just going sailing.
The destruction caused by shipping includes fuel spills, which coat the water with oil and coal dust, and erosion of the shoreline which causes damage to the fish and other inhabitants of the water.
The Buffalo River (above) is the only river in South Africa that is deep, wide and safe enough for ships to sail on (navigable). It runs into the sea at East London in the Eastern Cape.