The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

Agri SA calls for rejection of fracking to protect regional food security

27th September 2022


Agricultural industry federation Agri SA calls on government to reject hydraulic fracturing (fracking) proposals, saying the proposals present risks to scarce water supply and regional food security.

The organisation has submitted comments on new draft regulations to govern fracking.

“Given the risks entailed in fracking for the country’s scarce water supply, we urge government to withdraw these regulations and reject all plans to permit fracking in South Africa,” says Agri SA law and policy executive Janse Rabie.

Agri SA says there is an abundance of scientific research indicating that fracking poses an extreme risk to the environment, especially to water resources. This is exacerbated by the limited current knowledge about the long-term consequences of fracking.

“Allowing fracking in South Africa will have a devastating impact on the country’s ability to produce food. South Africa is already a highly water-stressed country. Our country faces a 17% water deficit by 2030 with an estimated investment of R33-billion required each year over the next ten years to avoid the looming shortage,” Rabie stresses.

Fracking requires the use of vast amounts of water, during both exploration and production. Owing to the chemicals used in the process, water used during exploration and production of petroleum becomes contaminated during the process. This creates a significant pollution risk to deep and shallow underground water resources, to surface water resources and the surrounding environment.

The South African agricultural sector can, in theory, currently provide South Africa and its neighbouring countries with sufficient food. However, indications are that, owing to population growth, food production will have to increase dramatically in the near- and medium-term, he notes.

“Environmental governance in South Africa, which includes integrated water resources management, is extremely concerning. The record of government in all three spheres on environmental management of South Africa’s water and other natural resources provides clear evidence that government is failing in its Constitutional duties in this regard,” Rabie highlights.

Further, the recent National State of Water Report published by the Department of Water and Sanitation emphasised this point, as do the regulations, saying that: “Government’s regulation and management of waste disposal facilities has been shown to be wholly inadequate. This is in part owing to the structural or institutional shared executive and legislative competence of provincial and local authorities in this regard”.

“The inescapable reality is, therefore, that South Africa cannot accommodate a highly water consumptive and polluting onshore gas industry without sacrificing the ability for the agricultural sector to feed its growing population, as well as the surrounding neighbouring countries,” Rabie emphasises.