KwaZulu-Natal MEC for local government, housing and traditional affairs Mike Mabuyakhulu has called on municipalities in the province to start educating ratepayers about the importance of water conservation.
He said the current electricity crisis gripping the country has highlighted the importance of using the country's resources sparingly.
Mabuyakhulu was speaking on Saturday at the launch of a innovative R60million water project in the rural village of Obanjeni on the North Coast.
About 20 water purification plants with sophisticated technology have been initiated to reduce the backlog in the delivery of water services in the province.
The project is the first of its kind for all rural areas in the province to ensure that more and more people have access to clean water.
Thousands of impoverished people in the area attended the launch of the water purification plants project.
Mabuyakhulu called on all municipalities to start projects to educate communities about the importance of saving water.
"Though our country is not facing an immediate threat of a water shortage, the present electricity crisis has shown that all of us have get in the habit of saving our resources.
"We are saying that all municipalities in our province should start campaigns to educate ratepayers about water conservation," Mabuyakhulu said.
"If there is anything that we should learn from the electricity crisis it is that we cannot afford to wait until we have a challenge on our hands.
"We must have the foresight and act now in order to forestall future challenges."
He said the project would go a long way to helping the province significantly slash the number of people who do not have access to clean water.
"The department has decided to buy water purification plants that will be located near water such as rivers so that water can be drawn from the river and purified," Mabuyakhulu said.
He said since the province was the most populous in the country the number of people who had no water was correspondingly high.
More than 700 000 households in the province do not have access to clean water.