Accidental water pollution can arise from many sources (such as burst pipes and tanks, major leaks, fires and oil spills) and can cause varying degrees of damage, depending on the quantity, toxicity and persistence of the pollutant, and the size and adaptability of the water body.
So what can be done?
If this is the water situation at present, what of the future? South Africa can build more dams and water transfer schemes but this type of infrastructure is expensive and South Africans cannot financially afford them. In terms of water quality, South Africans can clean up rivers and impose fines on those people/companies that pollute rivers. But these solutions address the symptoms of the problem. We should be addressing the cause of the problem, our attitude towards water, both in terms of the amount of water and its quality. The future of South Africa lies in OUR hands. We CAN make a difference. We just need to understand the water environment and how we humans fit into it. We all need to become ‘Water Wise’! But what does it mean to be ‘Water Wise’?
- To be ‘Water Wise’ means that a person will:
- have the utmost RESPECT for water and all life;
- use water carefully and not WASTE it;
- not POLLUTE rivers with liquid and solid waste;
- PAY for water services;
- take ACTION to solve any water problems;
- CONSERVE water, and thereby CONSERVE the natural environment.
South Africa has, in general, a limited supply of water and the quality of this water is being threatened by pollution and the destruction of river catchments. Water is a vital resource and it is up to ALL South Africans (and that means YOU) to act responsibly in their daily lives and look after the available water resources to ensure that this limited supply is usable by all life on earth. It is very important that everyone becomes ‘Water Wise’.
(Information produced by The Water Wise Education Team, Scientific Services Division)