Fueling Water-Intensive Economic Growth: What Hope for Water Conservation?


In virtually every country has strategies for pursuing greater broad-based economic growth and fighting poverty and inequality that underscore the pivotal role of water, including its availability in reasonable quantity and desired quality. While GDP growth in South Africa slowed down from 2.2% in 2013 to 1.5% in 2014, and while there are suggestions that current growth drivers are weak and inflation drivers strong, hopes remain for moderate economic growth of upwards of 2.5% going forward. Aside from stabilizing power supply and securing an upward movement in consumer confidence, such optimism rests on the return of mining and manufacturing activities to their previously high levels, with implications for water requirements. Growing demand for water-intensive growth will be occurring side-by-side with the expanding needs of urbanization and social advancement, in the face of an increasing threat of climate change, recurring droughts, environmental pollution and limited accessible water resources. Effective reconciliation of the demand and supply of water would require the strengthening of water conservation and demand management beyond their currently low to moderate levels, calling for a paradigmatic shift in approaches to water management, sound appreciation of the potential benefits vis-à-vis the allocation of requisite resources and firm political leadership and support. 

Share and Cite:

Busari, O. and Mutamba, J. (2015) Fueling Water-Intensive Economic Growth: What Hope for Water Conservation?. Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection, 3, 83-90. doi: 10.4236/gep.2015.36014.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] National Planning Commission (2013) National Development Plan 2030: Our Future, Make it Work. National Planning Commission, Government of South Africa, Pretoria.
[2] PICC (2012) A Summary of the South African National Infrastructure Plan. Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission, Government of South Africa, Pretoria.
[3] DWA (2013) National Water Resource Strategy: Water for an Equitable and Sustainable Future. Department of Water Affairs, Government of South Africa, Pretoria.
[4] Busari, O. and Ndlovu, J. (2012) Leveraging Water Infrastructure for Transformative Socio-Economic Development in South Africa. WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, 162, 435-446. http://dx.doi.org/10.2495/EID120381
[5] Mutamba, J. and Busari, O. (2014) Strategic Coordination for Sustainable Investment in Critical Infrastructure. Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection, 2, 79-86. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/gep.2014.25011
[6] McKenzie, R.S., Siqalaba, Z.N. and Wegelin, W.A. (2012) The State of Non-Revenue Water in South Africa. Research Report WRC-TT-522/12, Water Research Commission, Pretoria.
[7] Gumbo, B. and van der Zaag, P. (2002) Water Losses and Political Constraints to Demand Management: The Case of the City of Mutare. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 27, 805-813. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-7065(02)00069-4
[8] Kayaga, S. and Smout, I. (2008) Water Demand Management: A Key Building Block for Integrated Resource Planning for the City of the Future. Annual Conference of Allied Social Sciences Association, New Orleans, 4-6 January.
[9] McKenzie, R.S. and Bhagwan, J.N. (2000) Managing Unaccounted for Water in Potable Water Distribution Systems: Recent Software Developments through the WRC. Journal of the Institution of Municipal Engineers, January, 53-58.
[10] Wegelin, W.A. and Jacobs, H.E. (2013) The Development of a Municipal Water Conservation and Demand Management Strategy and Business Plan as required by the Water Services Act, South Africa. Water SA, 39, 415-422. http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/wsa.v39i3.11
[11] DWAF (2004) National Water Conservation and Demand Management. Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. Government of South Africa, Pretoria.
[12] Mohapatra, S.P. and Mitchell, A. (2009) Groundwater Demand Management in the Great Lakes Basin—Directions for New Policies. Water Resources Management, 23, 457-475. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11269-008-9283-3
[13] UNCHS (1989) The Con-servation of Drinking Water Supplies: Techniques for Low-income Settlements. United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, Habitat, Nairobi.
[14] Pansegrouw, J.P. (2005) Water Demand Management—Current Water Productivity Methodology and Water Management Tool in South Africa. Conference Series Papers, International Water Management Institute.
[15] Herbertson, P.W. and Tate, E.L. (2001) Tools for Water Use and Demand Management in South Africa. Technical Reports in Hydrology and Water Resources #73, World Meteorological Organization, Geneva.
[16] Lahnsteiner, J. and Lempert, G. (2007) Water Management in Windhoek, Namibia. Water Science & Technology, 55, 441-448. http://dx.doi.org/10.2166/wst.2007.022
[17] US-EPA (2002) Cases in Water Conservation: How Efficiency Programs Help Water Utilities Save Water and Avoid Costs. United States Environmental protection Agency, Washington DC.
[18] Kampragou, E., Lekkasb, D.F. and Assimacopoulos, D (2009) Water Demand Management: Implementation Principles and Indicative Success Stories. http://www.samos.aegean.gr/actuar/dlekkas/cv/
[19] White, S. (2001) Demand Management and Integrated Resource Planning in Australia. Paper Presented at the Conference on Efficient Use and Management of Water for Urban Supply, Madrid.
[20] Dole (2011) Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability. Dole Food Company Newsletter, 1.
[21] Busari, O. and Jackson, B. (2006) Reinforcing Water and Sanitation Sector Reform in South Africa. Water Policy, 8, 303-312. http://dx.doi.org/10.2166/wp.2006.038
[22] Mwiinga, G., Gumbo, T. and Mkoka, I. (2008) Water Conservation and Demand Management in Practice: South Africa Case Studies. Paper Presented at the WISA Confe-rence, Sun City.
[23] Stiles, G. (1996) Demand-Side Management, Conservation and Efficiency in Use of Africa’s Water Resources. In: Rached, E., Rathgeber, E. and Brooks, D., Eds., Water Management in Africa and the Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities, IDRC Books, Ottawa.
[24] Arlosoroff, S. (1998) Water Demand Management. UNCHS (Habitat) Regional Conference on Sustainable Consumption Patterns in Asian Cities, Fukuoka, 29 June-1 July 1998. http://www.fukuoka.unchs.org/english/information/Occassional/watere.html
[25] Mwendera, E.J., Hazelton, D., Nkhuwa, D., Robinson, P., Tjijenda, K. and Chavula, G. (2004) Overcoming Constraints to the Implementation of Water Demand Management in Southern Africa. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 28, 761-778. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pce.2003.08.002
[26] Mutamba, J. and Busari, O. (2012) Municipal Lessons in Water Demand Management: Case Study from South Africa. Proceedings of 34th Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium, Sydney, 1385-1392.

Copyright © 2021 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.