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ENSURING SOUTH AFRICA’S WATER SECURITY: THE IMPERATIVE OF RELIABLE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE

By Jan Venter, CEO of SAPPMA

In the arid landscape of South Africa, where water is a precious resource, the significance of reliable water infrastructure cannot be overstated. As the nation prepares to observe National Water Week from 20-26 March 2024, it is essential to underscore the pivotal role that dependable water infrastructure plays in securing the country’s water future. The Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (SAPPMA) emerges as a key player in this narrative, representing more than 80% of the local pipe industry, with a mission to uphold the highest standards for plastic pipes in South Africa.

The constitutional guarantee of access to sufficient water, enshrined in Section 27(1) of the South African Constitution, places an onus on the government to enact legislation that ensures the realisation of this fundamental right. The Water Services Act 108 of 1997 (WSA) was conceived to give effect to this constitutional commitment. Moreover, Section 24 of the Constitution reaffirms citizens’ rights to a healthy environment and emphasises the imperative to protect the environment from pollution and ecological degradation. In this context, it is imperative that water infrastructure aligns with these constitutional provisions, promoting conservation and sustainable development.

One of the pressing challenges facing South Africa’s water infrastructure is the annual loss of millions of litres of water due to degraded pipes that have surpassed their natural lifespan. SAPPMA, the vigilant custodian of the thermoplastic pipe industry, advocates for the use of locally manufactured plastic pipes that adhere to both local and international standards. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and High Density Polyethylene (HDP) pipes that bear the SAPPMA mark guarantee a lifespan of more than 50 years. This longevity not only safeguards water resources but also aligns with the constitutional imperative to ensure access to water for all citizens.

Plastic pipes, with their inherent benefits, provide a sustainable solution to South Africa’s water infrastructure challenges. They offer numerous advantages, such as reduced friction loss, lower energy consumption, a smaller environmental footprint, and crucially, they are heavy-metal free. These factors position plastic pipes, marked by SAPPMA’s seal of approval, as a reliable and environmentally conscious choice for the country’s water infrastructure needs.

As the nation commemorates National Water Week, SAPPMA extends an earnest appeal to specifiers and end-users to prioritise the use of pipes bearing the SAPPMA mark. Furthermore, a crucial call is made to politicians and decision-makers to urgently invest in the much-needed upgrades of South Africa’s pipe network. By doing so, we not only honour the constitutional commitment to water access, but also pave the way for a sustainable, resilient water infrastructure that is crucial for the nation’s development.

In conclusion, the intersection of National Water Week, Human Rights Day, World Water Day, and Earth Hour serves as a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness of water, human rights, and environmental sustainability. SAPPMA’s advocacy for reliable water infrastructure, grounded in high-quality plastic pipes, is a step towards securing South Africa’s water future, preserving the environment, and upholding the constitutional rights of every citizen to access sufficient water.

For more information on SAPPMA and its members, visit www.sappma.co.za

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