Department of Water Affairs 2011 Strategic Plan

NCOP Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy

30 May 2011
Chairperson: Ms B Mabe (ANC; Gauteng) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Select Committee were briefed on the following:

● Progress on the Wastewater Risk Abatement Planning (W2RAP) process
● Progress in the Accelerated Community Infrastructure Programme (ACIP)
● Progress Plans developed and implemented.

The Department of Water Affairs presented progress reports on their Strategic Annual Plan. Special attention was paid to the department’s ability to create jobs and provide resources for the poorest of the farmers. The department then went over its budget where it stated that it had under spent on the budget in the previous year. This drew criticism from the Committee as they were unable to comprehend why the department was not utilising all of the funds allocated.

The Department also outlined its plans for increased water safety and ensuring that all municipalities complied. Treatment strategies for both drinking and waste water complied with WHO standards. They continued to meet with municipalities in order to promote dialogue so that the needs of the communities were not ignored.

Finally the department presented its vision for the Accelerated Community Infrastructure Programme that aimed to provide universal access to water across all provinces. Thus far the programme was in its initial stages but was experiencing much success.

During the discussion period the members along with the chairperson were concerned about the large delegation present from the department. The Chair alluded to the idea that such an act was wasteful and in future the department should bring in a smaller delegation. The other questions asked were in regards to the harnessing of rain water, the state of water contamination in abandoned and closed mines. Moreover, the members wanted to know whether non compliance on the part of the municipalities carried any significant repercussions or punishments. Finally the chairperson concluded that all the answers be provided in written format containing additional details.

Meeting report

The Chairperson called a roll call then invited the first presenter from the Department of Water Affairs.

Department of Water Affairs (DWA) presentation on Water Sector Management
Ms Thandeka Mbassa (Director-General, DWA) stated that the reason for the presence of a large delegation was mainly because of the nature of the particular portfolio. It was important to interact with the Committee in order to understand the issues and concerns and provide details about what was happening within specific communities.

One of the key roles of the DWA was that of creating jobs. Water played an important role in the economic development of the country as water infrastructure projects were an essential catalyst for job creation.

The DWA had key programmes such as the Accelerated Community Infrastructure programme (ACIP) that promoted job growth and they supported programmes by other departments, mainly in the areas of agriculture and food security. There were smaller programmes running across the country that focused on water conservation and water management.

Ms Mbassa outlined some of the key strategic objectives for Programmes 2 and 3 looking at outputs, indicators, the baseline and performance targets for 2011/12 for each:

Programme 2: Water Sector Management
Strategic Priority 2: To promote sustainable and equitable water resource management
2.1 Setting a framework for water management in the country
2.2 To ensure balance of water supply and demand
2.5 To ensure the protection of water resources
2.6 To improve water use efficiency
2.7 To improve the management of the water resources

Programme 3: Regional Implementation and Support
Strategic Priority 1: To contribute to economic growth, rural development, food security and land reform
1.1 To ensure the availability of water supply for domestic use
1.2 To improve access to water for rural development and productive use

Strategic Priority 2: To promote sustainable and equitable water resources management
2.5 To ensure the protection of water resources
2.6 To improve water use efficiency

Strategic Priority 3: To strengthen the regulation of the water sector
3.1 To improve the regulations of the water sector

Strategic Priority 4: To support local government to deliver water services
4.1 To ensure the provisions of local government institutional support
4.4 To improve the regulation of water quality

Programme 5: Water sector regulation
Strategic Priority 1: To contribute to economic growth, rural development, food security and land reform
1.1 To ensure availability of water supply for economic and domestic use through development of infrastructure
1.3 To improve access to water for key growth points institutional support

Strategic Priority 3: To Strengthen the regulation of the water sector
3.3 To improve water use authorisation
3.4 To improve the regulation of water quality through compliance, monitoring and enforcement

The most important output for 2.1 Setting a framework for water management in the country was the proposed amendment of water related legislation. DWA was also working on the development of the National Water Resources Strategy (NWRS), the Climate Change Strategy, re-use and desalination strategies, establishment of the independent economic water regulator, the Institutional Realignment Framework. This framework looked at rationalising water management institutions in the country, examined the role of the water boards and how they could assist in achieving the goals of the DWA.

Given the ever-rising demand for water and water being a scarce commodity that had been affected by things such as climate change and pollution, the DWA had to look at innovative ideas to tackle water management. Water security remained a priority for the department as they established new reconciliation strategies. Here they looked at demand versus supply and the projected future demand trends in order to act before the situation worsened.

This year the DWA would set specific targets for water conservation that included fixing leaking pipes and damaged water towers. The conservation targets would be essential during periods of drought. Therefore sectors such as mining, farming irrigation, domestic and industrial would highly benefit from water conservation targets.

She stated that two functional Catchment Management Agency (CMAs) had already been established and additionally there were number of water utilities, Trans-Caledonian Tunnel Authority (TCTA), Water Services Authority (WRC) across all provinces.

In order to contribute to economic growth, the DWA had orchestrated a number of bulk infrastructure schemes. Through this programme the department had generated 1 210 jobs across the provinces.

DWA had also initiated a water access programme for 1000 poor farmers. The programme allocated resources to poor farmers in order to increase their access to water. The programme would increase its outreach if additional funds had been allocated. It had provided 6 000 rain harvesting tanks in 2011.

Presentation on the department’s budget
Mr Philip Botha (DWA Chief Director: Financial Management) stated that for the previous year the total budget was R8.2 billion and of that R7.9 billion had been spent, leaving a balance of R290 million. The department asked Treasury to rollover part of the unspent portion, R234 million, that was 81% of the unspent portion. Treasury had yet to make the decision. Of the rolled over funds, R30 million would be for natural resources programme, R99 million for capital assets and R107 for good and services.

Over the next three years the DWA budget would be R9.9 billion in 2011 and would increase to R10.8 billion in 2013/14. The increase in funds over the three year period from Treasury would be allocated to projects such as the Ndoni Pipeline and over the year they would provide funding for the improvement of services, asset management and disaster and drought management, among others.

Wastewater Risk Abatement Plan (W2RAP) progress report
Mr Helgard Muller (DWA Acting DDG: Policy and Regulation) said the Wastewater Risk Abatement used the W2RAP guideline to achieve safe and complying municipal wastewater collection and treatment. They regulated both the drinking water and wastewater since the treatment process of the wastewater system also affected the drinking water system. W2RAP is a risk assessment system to ensure that safety standards of wastewater and drinking water meet World Health Organisation standards.

Muller’s progress report covered the W2RAP Guidelines for South Africa and the reason for adopting the W2RAP, while elaborating on the definition of W2RAP. The second part of his report examined the W2RAP guideline in the South African municipal sector. Thirdly, citing two examples, the Berg River and Hartbeespoortdam, he explored the roll out of W2RAP through risk-based regulations within a quaternary catchment context. Finally his report outlined the benefits and future prospects emerging from the W2RAP.

W2RAP was a process to manage overall risk at critical control points. Often the leaking sewage seen on the streets was a result of a broken pump station or a pipeline and through W2RAP the department would be able to assess the risk of failure before it occurred.

Municipalities had been invited to present their proposals to ensure the safety of their local water systems. A progress meeting held on 24 May 2011 included six municipalities that discharged into the Berg River. These municipalities outlined their strategies for reducing risks.

The benefits of W2RAP were, but not limited to, that it could be used as a tool to prioritise scarce resources where risk was highest to public health, services and environment. It bridged the communication and planning barriers between technical/ engineering official and financial staff.

Presentation on the Progress in the Accelerated Community Infrastructure (ACIP)
Ms Kgad Boikanyo (Deputy Director General; DWA) claimed that ACIP was meant to utilise funds re-prioritised from the department’s approved budget in order to accelerate the achievement of universal access to water and sanitation by 2014. The initial setup fund of R500 million was allocated to launch the programme. Initially in its first year only 37% of the fund was utilised, however, by 2011, 97% of the funds had been utilised. The increase in spending had been uniform across all provinces.

Ms Boikanyo then looked at the scope, the expenditure per ACIP focus area for financial years 2010 and 2011 and the allocation of funds for financial year 2012.

Mr Worth DA (ANC; Free State) inquired about the reasons for having a large number of Acting Deputy Directors General. He asked why there was outstanding money owed to local water boards in the Free State and what the department was doing to deal with the matter. He asked if the R75 million allocated to acid mine water management would be sufficient to prevent the acid mine water from rising, especially in Gauteng. What was happening to the rehabilitation of the mines that were no longer being used? Was the department monitoring the aging water management infrastructure of municipalities and had any legal action been taken to punish municipalities that were not complying with government regulations? Finally he wanted clarification on the matter of the devolution of public works of approximately R230 million.

Mr G Mokgoro (ANC; Northern Cape) began by requesting that all answers be given in writing. He asked if the department was looking to manage and harness rainwater by building dams along rivers in such a way that the river’s flow was not disturbed during the non-rainy seasons.

Mr M Makhubela (COPE; Limpopo) asked what was being done to prevent rainwater from flowing into the ocean. Secondly, why was there was a shortfall in the department’s spending? He wanted to follow up on Mr Worth’s question on why there were so many acting DDGs in the department. He critiqued the presentation to be too technical and pleaded with the department that the scientific elements within the presentation should be omitted.

Mr O De Beer (COPE; Western Cape) asked if there was a rollover of funds every year and what the department was doing to utilise the leftover funds to build further water projects. There were several communities across the country that did not have access to water and the department could have utilised the unused funds to ensure that everyone had access. He also asked how many jobs the department aimed to create over the coming years. With respect to Green Drop and Blue Drop certification, were there penalties for boards that did not comply with mandate?

The Chairperson wanted clarification on why the department had such a large delegation of 24 representatives from the DWA. He asked what was being done about acid mine water. In terms of job creation what was the ratio of money spent by the department to the jobs created. Finally, what were the reasons for under spending on the budget?

Ms Mbassa answered the Chairperson’s question by stating that each individual present at the meeting was an expert in his or her specific field. If the members had a question then the department would have the right expert to answer the question. Ms Mbassa introduced all the departmental officials attending the meeting. She concluded by saying that in future the answers would be submitted in writing, then the need to bring a large delegation would be omitted.

The Chairperson responded that the answer given by Ms Mbassa was unacceptable and argued that it had already been decided in the previous meeting that answers to all the questions asked were to be presented in writing following the meeting. The department should not have brought along such a large delegation of 24 persons and instead sent the question to the various heads within the department across the country for it to be answered.

The Chairperson concluded the meeting by informing the department that they had till Monday 6 June to present all the answers in written form.


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