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Is Water Shedding Next?

Author

Listed:
  • James Blignaut

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria)

  • Jan van Heerden

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria)

Abstract

South Africa is in the grip of an electricity crisis marked by a euphemism known as “load shedding”. The demand for electricity has grown to the point that the supply reserve margin is often under threat, necessitating the electricity supplier to cut supply to some areas for various periods of time, or to shed load. This is a condition previously unknown to South Africa since the country has enjoyed electricity security from the mid-1950s. Are we, however, heading in the same direction when considering water? Is water shedding inevitable? We ask these questions since South Africa is a country classified has having chronic water shortages, a condition exacerbated by climate change and the rapidly increasing demand for water. Can we avert a water shedding crisis by being proactive? In this paper we address this issue by applying a Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model using an integrated database comprising South Africa’s Social Accounting Matrix (SAM) and sectoral water use balances. We refer to AsgiSA, the governments’ Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative in South Africa, and conclude that continuing business as usual will indeed lead to a situation where water shedding will be inevitable. Unlike electricity, however, water security is much more serious from livelihood, health and socio-economic development perspectives since there are no substitutes for it, although its influence is not directly and immediately visible. This delayed effect can create a degree of comfort and ill-founded complacency leading to non-action, whereas there is an urgent need for proactive measures.

Suggested Citation

  • James Blignaut & Jan van Heerden, 2009. "Is Water Shedding Next?," Working Papers 200918, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:pre:wpaper:200918
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Steven Renzetti, 1992. "Estimating the Structure of Industrial Water Demands: The Case of Canadian Manufacturing," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 68(4), pages 396-404.
    2. van Heerden, Jan H. & Blignaut, James & Horridge, Mark, 2008. "Integrated water and economic modelling of the impacts of water market instruments on the South African economy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 105-116, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gill, Tania & Punt, Cecilia, 2010. "The Potential Impact of Increased Irrigation Water Tariffs in South Africa," 2010 AAAE Third Conference/AEASA 48th Conference, September 19-23, 2010, Cape Town, South Africa 96425, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE);Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA).
    2. Dinar, Ariel, 2012. "Economy-wide implications of direct and indirect policy interventions in the water sector: lessons from recent work and future research needs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6068, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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