On 2 April 2020 water and sanitation minister, Lindiwe Sisulu announced the centralisation of water distribution through a Johannesburg-based command centre for the duration of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We have taken all our water and put it under one command centre, situated at Rand Water in Johannesburg, where all the commands around where water is concerned will be coming from,” Sisulu said. In the case of irrigation boards — in the main, farmers and individuals who own water rights — those boards will also be issued with directives to make water available to the government.
Agri SA has confirmed that the appointment of Rand Water as implementation agent concerning the distribution of water is a temporary emergency measure to combat the COVID-19 pandemic as long as the state of disaster persists. Agri SA also confirmed that the department will be keeping a record of all the costing involved and irrigation boards will be able to claim back for those costs.
The department will take the necessary measures to ensure that where untreated water is sourced for supply to users, water will be purified to the required quality standards.
“Agri SA has committed to assist the department of water and sanitation in dealing with the crisis. We appreciate the magnitude of the crisis and water for drinking and hygiene purposes supersedes other uses during this time” says Janse Rabie, Head of Agri SA’s Natural Resources Centre of Excellence.
“This situation is being dealt with by the Minister and her team with the utmost diligence and professionalism. We applaud her for her leadership in this crisis. We urge our members to ensure that any taking and supply of water is dealt with in close collaboration by the Department of Water and Sanitation”.
Several farming areas nationwide have been without water for months and some even for years. Government is now caught up in a rush to ensure safe water supply given the need for around-the-clock hygiene practices to avert a COVID-19 crisis.
The Government has urged communities in areas affected by water shortages to call 0800 200 200.