Exploring aspects of the water history of the Potchefstroom region and the local management of it.

12 June 2012

It is by now common knowledge that South Africa is a water scarce country and that the correct public management of its potable water sources such as the transportation of it as well as the purification of the used water is of utmost importance. In the history of South Africa, the supply of potable water and basic sanitation services to all the inhabitants has never been higher on the national, provincial and especially the local government sphere agendas than since the end of April 1994. Even though the Mooi River valley area has always been described as water rich, it might in the near future be described as “water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink”! The city of Potchefstroom gathers its potable water from surface- and groundwater in the Mooi River Catchment. The water is collected, stored and released from the Boskop Dam from where it is transported in a 12km long open-on-top cement canal to the water purification works of the City. In an ad hoc field visit by the authors, it was discovered that the water canal is broken and being polluted in a variety of ways before it reaches the purification works. Improvement of this inefficient management situation is also currently quite impossible seeing that the Department of Water Affairs’ workforce has declined to a mere 20 people to maintain the whole of the Mooi River valley. The article starts off with a historical water related background of Potchefstroom identifying some historical happenings and developments of importance with reference to the development related to Potchefstroom and especially the source and transport of its potable water. Thereafter the article highlights some important water resources related legislation, which is obviously not being adhered to. Important role-players involved with the public management of the potable water supply for the city residents of Potchefstroom are furthermore identified. Lastly the way forward is addressed and some recommendations on the improvement of the transport of the City’s potable water through the dolomite underlain area are given.