The proposed National Water Policy Review is not aimed at taking water away from farmers, the department said on Thursday (12/09/2013).
The water department was responding to media reports that commercial farmers believed they were under attack by Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa’s department, spokesman Themba Khumalo said in a statement.
According to a report on the Independent Online, white commercial farmers were concerned about the department’s plan to restrict water supply to commercial farms.
Khumalo said it was disingenuous for some media to create panic in the farming community by giving the impression that the policy was aimed at taking water away from farmers.
"The minister emphasised that authorised users, who use their current water allocations productively and efficiently, will be able to continue with their activities,” Khumalo said.
Last Tuesday, Molewa highlighted 12 policy positions outlined in the National Water Policy Review to address legislative gaps in the sector.
Speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria, Molewa told reporters one of the review’s proposals was to end temporary or permanent water trading.
"It will be obligatory for any holder of an entitlement to use water, which is no longer utilised, to surrender such use to the public trust,” she said.
The principle of "use it, or lose it” would result in those with water reserves which were not being used, having this water taken by the state for reallocation, to maximise the efficiency of water use.
The reallocation of water would prioritise social and economic equity.
"[This policy] is not intended to take water from one race group [and give it] to another,” Molewa said at the time.
In her statement on Thursday, Molewa said many people were still without their basic right to water.
"It is a fact that 98 percent of the water available in South Africa is already allocated, while many people do not have access to water for basic human needs such as drinking, cooking and personal hygiene, as well as for food security and productive use.” - Sapa