Water Affairs and Environmental Affairs 2009/10 Annual Reports: important elements

NCOP Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy

21 March 2011
Chairperson: Ms Qikani AND(Eastern Cape, ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Both the Departments of Environmental Affairs and Water Affairs gave presentations to the Select Committee on some of the important elements of their 2009/10 Annual Reports.

The Department of Environmental Affairs spoke about the successful transfer of Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF) to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on 1 April 2010.

 The Marine and Coastal Management branch ceased to exist from 31 March 2010. However, Integrated Coastal Management, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research and the South African National Antarctica Programme components remained within DEA. It then looked at the achievements of the MLRF in 2009/10, a key one being an unqualified audit from the Auditor General Only one MLRF challenge was identified which was the delay of the completion of the new Marion Island base.

DEA also looked at the key performance areas of its Programme on Environmental Quality and Protection for 2009/10 and outlined the key performance indicators, targets, achievements and challenges for each as well as corrective measures. These areas were:
• Prevent and manage potentially negative impacts of development on the environment.
• Ensure compliance with Environmental Legislation
• Improve air and atmospheric quality.
• Prevent and reduce pollution and waste

The Department of Water Affairs presented its spending trends, challenges and achievements from two programmes:
Programme 2: Water Resource Management and Programme 3: Water services.
Noting their
2009/10 strategic goals, the performance of its three Branches: Policy & Regulation,  National Water Resources Infrastructure (NWRI) and Regions were assessed in terms of outputs, performance indicators, targets against actual achievements. Key challenges were also discussed and recommendations to deal with these were provided.

Meeting report

The Chairperson informed the presenters that due to time constraints they would be given limited time for their presentations, so she suggested they keep to the most important issues. Further she wanted them to provide written answers by the following week at the latest to any questions posed at the meeting as they were not expected to answer all the questions.

Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) presentation on Marine Living Resources Fund
Director General Nosipho Ngcaba introduced her team and then spoke about the Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF) and the Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) branch. The objectives of the MLRF included the promotion of conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal resources, to manage the development, sustainable use and orderly exploitation of coastal resources and to protect the integrity and quality of marine and coastal ecosystems. Key legislation in aid of its agenda were the National Environmental Management Act 1998, the Marine Living Resources Act 1998, the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act 2008 and the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act of 2003. Most of these set up frameworks and regulations on how to manage and protect the resources and ecosystems of the coastal areas.

The transfer of Fisheries, including the MLRF, to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) was achieved by means of a Presidential proclamation with effect from 1 April 2010.

 The Marine and Coastal Management branch ceased to exist from 31 March 2010. There were some exceptions. The following components remained with DEA:
▪ The Chief Directorate: Integrated Coastal Management,
▪ Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research (BER) including oceanography and ecosystem utilisation,
▪ South African National Antarctica Programme (SANAP), and
▪ Proportional support staff for the above.

The key achievement in 2009/10 was that the Auditor-General expressed an unqualified audit opinion for the MLRF.

Financial Performance showed a net deficit of R6.8 million, which was a 33.5% decrease from the previous year with a 7.4% increase in total revenue.

Achievements for MLRF included the development of a Climate Change Strategy for South Africa’s oceans and coast, oil spill preparedness exercises, close control and monitoring of dumping at sea, all relief voyages to Antarctica, Marion and Gough Islands were successfully carried out, oceanographic and biodiversity research voyages were undertaken, population estimates of top marine predators (seals & seabirds) were conducted, and research towards the establishment of the first offshore Marine Protected Area in the immediate exclusive economic zone was published.
One challenge for MLRF was identified which was the delay of the completion of the new Marion Island base.

Environmental Quality and Protection Branch presentation
Mr Ishaam Abader, DEA Deputy Director General, noted the key performance areas were
• Prevent and manage potentially negative impacts of development and development patterns on the environment.

• Ensure compliance with Environmental Legislation
• Improve air and atmospheric quality.
• Prevent and reduce pollution and waste

Looking at each of these, he outlined the key performance indicators, targets, achievements and challenges for each as well as corrective measures. Some points of interest were:
They had trained 286 Environmental Impact Assessors, well over its target of 150.
In ensuring compliance with environmental legislation, they had done reactive inspections on 85% of Environmental Quality and Protection related complaints, which had cleared the backlog. Ten Sector based strategic inspections were conducted, as well as 25 criminal investigations finalised and handed over for prosecution. They had also trained 224 Environmental Management Inspectors and 141 justice officials (prosecutors and magistrates), more than the targeted 120 and 100 respectively.
• Phase I, the ambient air quality monitoring component, of the South African Air Quality Information System (SAAQIS) was launched on 23 March 2010 and, at that time, 42 ambient air quality monitoring stations were providing information to the SAAQIS. 146 of 164 (89%) of outstanding APPA (
Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act) Registration Certificates were processed by year end.
The development of Waste Management regulations was in process and a Waste Management activity list was published.
 Cooperate with industry on waste management and the licensing of waste disposal sites were crucial for this part.
A national climate change database had been established, and sector sessions were held to determined South Africa’s capacity to adapt in key sectors. Discussions were also engaged with the intent of declaring CO2 a priority pollutant.

Mr Abader looked at the support the DEA had provided to Provinces and Local Government. A few of the examples given were renewable energy and climate change mitigation awareness in KZN, 10% energy saving target project for Cape Town, processing of applications from unpermitted waste disposal sites

 in all provinces.

Finally, he provided the Programme Expenditure Trends. This provided detailed information on spending per classification such as compensation to employees, goods and services and operational budget. The expenditure for the 2009/10 budget Allocation for each Key Performance Area

 was 100%. (For more details see document).  

Mr J Gunda (ID, Northern Cape) asked how compensation to employees could be so high as 50% of the budget.

Director Ngcaba said that their inspectors had to travel and be on site to investigate possible breaches of regulations, such as waste dumping. Also one had to outsource to the necessary experts, be they from universities or other institutions. This would be where much of the employment compensation went to.

Mr M Mokgobi (ANC, Limpopo) asked how long the Department’s Acting DG had been ‘acting’. He would have liked the presentation to have included a glossary of acronyms. He also wanted clarification on the sentence from page six of the presentation detailing the implementation of the fee structure waiting to be initiated. When would the EMF regulations that held up the Garden Route EMF be finalised? Finally, when they would appoint the APPA database administrator?

The Director General replied she had noted the point about a glossary. She assured them that in the full document they had included a glossary. In presentation they tried to always use the full terminology in the first slide it was mentioned, subsequently followed by acronyms. As for the ‘Acting’ posts, these were never held for long periods, and new posts always had to be approved, some by Cabinet, depending on the level and length of the post. Shorter stints of ‘acting’ were a stopgap measure in emergencies. She added that one could not get paid for the ‘acting’ post if you already held a post in the Department.

Mr D Worth (DA, Free State) asked which Department would end up paying for the SA Agulhas and when would it be ready. He also commented on the medical waste problem in his home province. Finally he asked why waste recycling on a residential level had not been implemented throughout the country.

The Director General said the research vessel, SA Agulhas, was still in the process of being built. The Department of Environmental Affairs would be paying for it as they were in charge of coastal research. The ship was scheduled to be launched in 2012. They had not looked into a citizen level recycling scheme, but they had worked to make producers responsible for what they put into the environment.

Ms B Mabe (ANC, Gauteng) asked them if the 286 officials they had trained were at provincial or national level, and what would be their relationship with local government. For the purpose of the Committee’s oversight, she asked if they could specify with which municipalities they worked. She also reiterated her colleague’s request for information on the compensation for employees. Finally, she would like to know which provinces would implement the National Waste Management Strategy and what role local governments would have in that.

The Director General explained there were guidelines in the Waste Management Act itself about the role that was expected from both municipalities and provinces. With regards to the specialists trained in prosecuting environmental crimes, there did not look like there would be any specialised courts for these cases. Instead they were looking to maximise the time they had available in courts to try these cases.

The Chairperson asked what impact the budget increase for the Green Scorpions had had on their ability to protect the national heritage. What percentage of funds were used on the management of marine species conservation? Finally, could they provide a coastal implementation plan for the Integrated Coastal Management Act.

The Director General answered that they wanted more money for the Green Scorpions in order to scale up their actions and the services they provided, and had therefore increased their funding.  

Department of Water Affairs (DWA): Spending trends, challenges and achievements of selected programmes from the 2009/10 Annual Report
Deputy Director General: National Water Resources, Dr Cornelius Ruiters, focused on:

Programme 2: Water Resource Management which had three strategic goals:
▪ Ensuring sustainable and equitable water resources management;
▪ Build, operate & maintain infrastructure;
▪ Aligned and effective institutions and

Programme 3: Water services which had as its strategic goal:
▪ Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable water services.

To achieve these strategic goals, he looked at the performance of its Branches: Policy & Regulation,  National Water Resources Infrastructure (NWRI) and Branch: Regions in terms of its
outputs, performance indicators, targets for 2009/10 against actual achievements as well as key challenges. Finally, he provided recommendations to deal with these challenges (see document).

Some of these challenges were identified as:
Shortage of dedicated technical personnel such as climate change specialists to develop and implement climate change programmes (Recommendation: A directorate focusing on climate change issues has been established and personnel will be appointed to effectively perform this function in the next financial year.)
Inability to successfully address all identified compliance cases due to shortage of suitable personnel to carry out the functions successfully (Recommendation: A directorate focusing on compliance, monitoring and enforcement has been established.)
Inability to finalise all water use licence backlogs due to capacity constraints
(Recommendation: A project team that is fully resources has been established to ensure that all backlogs relating to water use licence applications are eradicated during the next financial year.)
The review of the National Water Resources Strategy, 2004 was not finalised, however, an inception report was completed. (Recommendation: This process will be carried over to the next financial year).

Looking at
Programme 3: Water services, he provided the same information about its strategic goal of ensuring universal access to safe and affordable water services. 
In an overview of expenditure trends, Dr Ruiters noted that between 95 and 99% expenditure had been achieved for these two programmes in 2009/10. He provided comparative figures for 2008/09. (For details see document).

The discussion started with the Chairperson reminding the Department that they would be required to submit the answers in writing, but the Committee would welcome any brief answers.

Mr Mokgobi asked how many qualified engineers would emerge from undertaking the projects the Department proposed. Could they also explain the four percent mentioned with regards to one of the dams, because he did not understand what they meant. He asked for an explanation about the recommendation on page seven about the 2004 National Water Resource Strategy. He also wanted to know when the DG would be appointed.

Deputy Director Ruiters said that that it meant four percent of all the projects they were working on. He did admit that it was an issue on how they could annually translate these numbers into actual understandable progress.

Acting DDG of Public Relations, Mbangiseni Nepfumbada, referred to the 2004 National Water Resource and said it was up for review every five years. So what had been meant was that they would publish the review in this financial year.

Mr Worth asked why not all the pumping stations mentioned where maintained and functioning. He suggested the rest of them must be in the Free State where the water infrastructure was breaking down. He asked when the next Green Drop and Blue Drop reports would come out. He requested some details on the new highland dam, De Hoop, and if the local population would benefit from its water reservoir.

Acting DDG Nepfumbada replied that the pumping stations were part of the national monitoring of water resources. All infrastructure planning was based on the flow information gathered at these stations. Some of the stations were also real time, meaning that they could be accessed remotely to see the real time water flow at their location. The plants that remained under-maintained were due to a dearth of resources, but they were moving towards increasing their network. This was very important information gathering as it would give them information on things such as climate change impact.

Deputy Director Ruiters replied they would be starting partial storage in the De Hoop dam next year. There would be numerous supply lines built, including from the Olifants. The total costs upon completion in 2014/15 was estimated to R16 billion. The main beneficiaries of the dam would number around a million people. On the Lesotho Highlands Phase Two, he was the chief negotiator and they were working on how South Africa could benefit from the development going on there.

Ms Mabe asked what had been done to capture the water that had emanated from the heavy rainfalls in the last months. She also wanted to know what was happening with the acid mine drainage. She asked them to give the medium to long- term prospects of the River Health programme.

Deputy Director Ruiters wanted to clarify that it was simply not possible in South Africa to store each and every drop of rain. The rain also provided for their ecological reserve, meaning the rivers, and there was no system in the world that could capture all the rain or river water for storage, it just was not possible. At this point it was not possible to expand upon the systems they used in order to store each and every drop. The rivers were also an integrated system, and 60% of their river systems were shared by neighbours, and that put a limit on how much could be exploited. It had, by SADC agreement, provide water to downstream neighbours.

Acting DDG Nepfumbada said that there were rain harvesting technologies, and these were possible, if, as Dr Ruiters had said, one bore in mind environmental and international obligations. Rain harvesting was particularly useful on small scale, but there were methods like artificial recharge were rain water was pumped into aquifers. Namibia was particularly skilled at storing water underground. It was quite useful for a dry country. On acid mine drainage, there had already been some allocation of resources, and the funding allocated would be available for immediate quick containment. The report on this was publicly available on the Department’s website. This was a substantial challenge but they were in the process of dealing with it. The River Health Programme covered the entire country when it came to monitoring river systems. It was also linked to programmes dedicated to cleaning up the river systems.

The Chairperson asked them to give an overview of which provinces and municipalities were performing well and which were not. She would also like a list of provincial projects so they could visit them on their oversight tours. She would like to know which provinces and municipalities had benefited from the R6 billion grant implementation.

Deputy Director Ruiters answered that they had been successful in a number of places, including the Cape Town, Gauteng and the Nelson Mandela metro areas. It had also provided assistance to all the major metros. Were they did have challenges in terms of water management and conservation was the smaller municipalities. On their big projects, three had been completed in Limpopo, some in KZN and even one in the North West. In terms of the highest regional investment in infrastructure, it went as follows: KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. These were the high priority areas where they will build or modify several more dams. 

The Chairperson expressed concern about the slow rate of dam completion, seeing as they had only gotten to four percent.

Deputy Director Ruiters corrected this figure and said that was the overall project status and that the dams were closer to 60% completed. They understood that there was a shortage of water, and they worked with communities on interim solutions while they built the dams. But he also hoped people remembered that this was a long term solution and that dams could not be built in a day.

The Chairperson asked how much water went to the mines.

Deputy Director Ruiters replied that it was usually a division of 50-50: half to industry, half to communities.

The Chairperson thanked the Department of Water Affairs.

The Committee adopted minutes and discussed an invitation to nominate a candidate to sit on the National Agricultural Marketing Council.

The meeting was concluded.


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