South Africa's minister of water and environmental affairs Edna Molewa launched Water Week with a visit to farmers who are suspected of illegally drawing water from the Vaal Dam to irrigate their crops.
Farmers were issued with directives from the department to stop the illegal activity.
"Over abstraction and continuous illegal water use could have significant economic implications on the country as a whole and it is therefore crucial that we act against transgressors," said the minister. The Vaal Dam serves 20 million people's water needs in South Africa.
According to Molewa, an estimated 229 million cubic meters of water per annum was being unlawfully used by irrigation farmers.
"That is why we felt it is important for us to improve our enforcement, we will not only visit the farmers but the municipalities will also be visited and where there's non-compliance, they will be asked to account." Water Week is celebrated under the theme 'Water is life: Respect it, Conserve it, and enjoy it.'