Bloem, Overberg, Magalies and Lepelle Northern Water Boards had received unqualified audit reports but had common problems relating to infrastructure, outstanding debts by clients, and the role of the Department in not assisting municipalities sufficiently. The Bloem Water Board spoke of the challenges of difficult race relations in their area, non-payment of rates and a challenge that stemmed from the Caledon River area that the Board requested the Department for long-term assistance. Overberg Water Board noted the need for refurbishment projects and emphasised the need for regular technical audits, and asked for the Committee’s assistance to roll out such a programme nation-wide.
The suspension of the CEO of Magalies Water Board was noted. The acting CEO spoke of some of their specific challenges, including that of illegal connections, insufficient raw water resources, deteriorating raw water quality, excessive water demand, scarcity of skills and erratic electricity supply. They had sorted out the qualification of the previous year’s audit report.
Lepelle Northern Water Board spoke about service delivery challenges, which included aging infrastructure and reticulation problems, and the critical issue of the payment of bulk water services and the closure of industrial clients due to the economic meltdown.
Albany Coast Water Board failed to appear. The Chairperson expressed her dissatisfaction saying that apologies would not be accepted. The Minister as political head of the water boards needed to ensure their presence.
The Committee requested the roll out of the technical audit mentioned by Overberg Water and stressed the need for updated technology because of the increased treatment demands. They asked for clarity on the role of the Department as there was concern that the Department was failing the Boards by abdicating responsibilities and not assisting sufficiently. A joint sitting of the Portfolio Committee on Water and the Portfolio Committee dealing with municipalities was requested because of the Boards’ challenges stemming from the municipalities. More detail was requested about community investments and BEE allocations when it came to refurbishments, and capacity building and transformation.
The Chairperson stated that a Department or Board’s apology for not attending would not be accepted because if an individual could not make it then they should have assigned someone else. She said that they must appear before the Committee on Monday 13 July 2009.
Bloem Water Presentation
Ms Nolene Morris, CEO: Bloem Water Board, went over the service areas and services provided, their achievements and challenges, their transformation programme and presented an overview of the Bloem water performance, and emphasized transformation and the reorientation of the workplace. She talked about the introduction of flexibility and improved co-operation with labour unions. She spoke of the difficult race relations in this particular province, however she stressed that the Department was dealing with this challenge. She also noted challenges of non-payment of rates.
In her financial overview, she noted that the Bloem Water Board had received an unqualified external audit report.
She reported on the status of their infrastructure and refurbishment projects, and highlighted that the water quality complied in all respects to the relevant standards. She however mentioned a challenge that stemmed from the Caledon River area and said that the Board had asked the Department for long-term assistance to address this situation, as it was costly. In conclusion, she reaffirmed the Board’s commitments.
The Chairperson called on the next Board, Albany Coast. On finding they were absent, she said, “They are not here? Albany is not here. The Boards are not in trouble now, the Minister is in trouble. Not the boards, the Minister is in trouble because I don’t deal with the heads of the boards, I deal with the Minister, who is supposed to be the political head of those boards.”
Overberg Water Board presentation
Mr Joe Emeran, Chairperson: Overberg Water Board, discussed their service areas, achievements and challenges. He noted the need for refurbishment projects and mentioned a pilot study on ultra-filtration that he believed was a success. He spotlighted achievements such as their water quality having received a Blue Drop Award, and no labour or tariff collection problems. He highlighted the challenges as being the impact of the global recession, the conclusion of service agreements, and minimizing backlogs of reserve water.
He was pleased to point out that the audit report had once again been unqualified. He presented a performance summary and mentioned an outstanding loan to the Department and the repayment programme. He added that if they were able to write off the loan then they would show much better figures.
He spoke about the need for regular technical audits. There was a dire need for information in the water sector by which, on a comparative basis, proper management decisions could be taken, proper regulation could be done by DWEA and other departments, and proper oversight could be done by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee.
Currently there was a lack of coherence in assessing water purification works, the unavailability of relevant information that was structured and standardized. A technical audit of Southern Cape purification works had been conducted, with a commissioned report analyzing municipality water quality findings. The Board had volunteered to aid these areas and asked for the Committee’s assistance in this endeavor to continue this programme.
Magalies Water Presentation
Mr Letlhogonolo Motlhodi, Acting CEO, Magalies Water Board, tabled the Report (refer to document ‘Magalies Water Presentation).
The Chairperson asked why the presenter was an acting CEO.
Mr W Mahlangu, a Board Member of Magalies Water Board, explained that information had come to light about the previous CEO, which had led to her suspension and removal. He agreed to advertise the position as soon as possible.
The Chairperson made it clear she wanted a female to fill the position.
Mr Motlhodi went over the areas of supply and the core and non-core services provided by Magalies Water Board, its challenges and current interventions. These challenges included illegal connections, insufficient raw water resources caused by DWEA delays, deteriorating raw water quality, excessive water demand, scarcity of skills and erratic electricity supply.
Their achievements included reducing injury frequency rates, provision of quality water despite deteriorating raw water quality, the implementation of a number of educational and community programmes, and sanitation initiatives.
He talked about the audit report and noted that the Board had received an unqualified report in the last year and had sorted out the qualification of the previous year. He highlighted that the financial performance and position of the board was that it was a going concern, with the water provision and budget being in harmony. Lastly, he noted that the water supply for 2010 Soccer World Cup would be no problem in the Board’s areas.
Lepelle Northern Water Presentation
Mr Labane Leballo, CEO, Lepelle Northern Water Board, tabled the Report (refer to document ‘Lepelle Northern Water 2007/2008 Annual Performance Presentation) and went over the service areas and services provided. He spoke about the service delivery challenges, which included aging infrastructure and reticulation problems. He went over some of the successes such as installing meters in areas that were in need of these.
They had received an unqualified audit report but that there were matters of concern that they were advised to keep an eye on.
He concluded that their critical issues were the payment of bulk water services and the closure of industrial clients due to the economic meltdown (see document).
Mr G Morgan (DA) commented that Albany Coast Water Board was not present and agreed with the Chairperson that it was unacceptable for Board not show up when called on by the Committee. He questioned the need for Albany’s existence as the Amathole Water Board around Albany was successful, whereas Albany was very small. He requested the roll out of the technical audit study mentioned by Overberg Water and supported the provision of extra financial resources for these studies. He emphasised the need for updated technology because of the increased requirements of treatments that stemmed from increasingly poor water quality that needed to be purified. He wanted more comments of the future position of the Board relating to these updates and developments.
Mr Mothlodi replied that the Department had not profiled the raw water status of the catchments and that this remained a challenge. He noted that the focus had been on quality and quantity and that they were working with industry.
Mr Khothamani Vilakazi (CFO: Magalies Water Board) stated that the Board must work together with industry, and that industry must reimburse their coffers because the Board had the burden of treating the water that resulted from its use by industry.
Ms H Ndude (COPE) gave credit for the outstanding reports, and specifically mentioned being impressed by the Magalies Water presentation because it also included interventions for the various challenges. She noted that there were common issues: infrastructure problems, outstanding debts by clients, and the role of the Department. She asked for clarity on the role of the Department because she believed that the Department was failing the Boards by abdicating their responsibility and not assisting sufficiently. She called for a joint sitting of the Portfolio Committee of Water and the Portfolio Committee dealing with municipalities because of the problems stemming from the municipalities.
The Chairperson agreed for the need of a joint meeting with the municipalities or the Department, and to even make legislation if needed to assist the Boards.
Mr Z Luyenga (ANC) stressed that the Boards should not only submit glowing reports to satisfy the Committee because if there were problems then the Committee would not be aware of these and would not be able to assist. He also questioned the lack of assistance by the Department.
Mr P Mathebe (ANC) asked for more detail about the community investments and the BEE allocation when it came to the list of refurbishments He added that Magalies Water did not mention any municipalities in Mpumalanga and asked if there were any plans for purification plants in more remote areas.
Mr Motlhodi replied that the Board worked through the Department when addressing Mpumalanga.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) stressed that there was a working relationship between the Committee, the Boards and the Departments, which needed the free flow of information. He asked for more information on capacity building and transformation from the Boards and asked about the recruitment process.
Ms Morris, CEO: Bloem Water Board, had begun her reply regarding community involvement when the Chairperson interjected requesting a written detailed report on the matter. Ms Sotyu requested that Treasury give their presentation on Monday 13 July 2009. She emphasised the importance of working together.
- Bloem Water Annual Report 2007/08 presentation
- Magalies Water 2007/08 presentation
- National Treasury’s Assessment of the Water Boards’ Annual Reports
- Overberg Water 2007/08 presentation
- Lepelle Northern Water 2007/08 Annual Performance presentation
- DWAF Response to Questions Raised by Portfolio Committee during discussion of Water Boards’ Tariffs for 2009/210
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting