GRAAFF-REINET NEWS - A fruitful meeting was held last Friday to pave the way for a water summit next month in Graaff-Reinet.
This is under the auspices of the Joint Operations Committee (JOC), which was set up earlier this year by mayor Deon de Vos to address the water issues in conjunction with the Graaff Reinet Economic Development Forum (GREDF).
All civic organisations, Province, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT), Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality and the Sarah Baartman District Municipality are represented on the JOC.
A technical sub-committee has been established to workshop solutions to the crisis to secure the long-term water supply over the next 30 to 50 years.
"Over the last two weeks we have had to revise our planning, as the situation is actually more serious than we thought," said Derek Light of the GREDF.
He explained that, now that a drought disaster area has been declared, certain procedures and applications can be fast-tracked. This technical sub-committee is made up of the district and local municipality, DWS, DEDEAT and the forum.
All role-players are doing research, and will share information. The summit has been arranged at the instigation of the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs for 10 December, and the technical sub-committee of the JOC will then report on its progress and a broader consultation with all stakeholders will follow.
"One of the major problems at present is that the municipality has done nothing to get the community to be water wise," said MP Samantha Graham.
"There has been no education, and no punishment for water restriction offenders." Light agrees there is a need to educate consumers, and this will be on the agenda at the summit.
"We can't control the drought, but we can focus on what can be done to fix the crisis," he said.
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