National Water Resource Strategy 2: Public Hearings Day 2, National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill: further deliberations

Water and Sanitation

24 October 2012
Chairperson: Mr J De Lange (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee continued with the second day of public hearings on the National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS2). The Chamber of Mines (COM) broadly supported the objectives and strategic direction, but felt that clear deliverables and time frames were needed, and the NWRS2 should draw on the experience of the first Strategy. More direction was needed on pollution and capacity at municipalities. The lack of progress in forming Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs) was disappointing. The concerted efforts by the mining industry and government to address Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) were not reflected. COM disputed the implication that business lacked commitment in managing water. It urged that DWA must effectively use the water sector leadership group to overcome planning challenges, and achieve efficiency in water use overall. Industry had not been provided with the finalised frameworks. Members were disappointed that COM had not taken the opportunity to outline what the industry would do in relation to AMD. They asked if COM put pressure on mines to apply for water licences, for comment on mine closure, and why there was not more transparency on licencing information. The COM responded that the unregulated mines input also had to be considered. A list of mining houses operating without water licences would be sent to the Committee.

Sasol accounted for 4% of Vaal River system demand. It highlighted its contributions, internally and externally, to mitigation of water risks, including helping communities and municipalities and educating farmers, as well as research partnerships. It commended the proposals for municipalities, but urged that the private sector water user’s response to shared water risks could be enhanced. A water off-setting policy could support several of the objectives of the NWRS, by incentivising private sector water users to invest in addressing risks, achieving more cost-effective improvements, and maintaining assurance of supply to existing users. Water must be made available for historically-disadvantaged individuals, and to promote growth. Members questioned the strategies to reduce use of water, asked if Sasol assisted in areas outside Mpumalanga, asked for clarity on how it dealt with farmers, and questioned if it checked compliance with those in the supply chain. Members agreed that the concept of off-setting needed more investigation by the DWA.
Eskom currently relied on water-intensive wet-cooled power stations, but was investigating moves to other systems. It highlighted several risks to water supply. It outlined the recommendations made to the DWA in November 2011, in the areas of planning, policy and operations. Eskom now highlighted the need to develop a more structured framework that clearly linked strategic goals to activities and enabling actions, the need for better time lines and acknowledgment of inter-dependencies. It recommended a bottom-up analysis of all water use and water quality, by catchment/river system. It believed that better water stewardship was needed throughout the whole chain, and said that current misalignments between water and energy planning processes had to be corrected. Infrastructure management had to be improved, and institutional reform was needed, particularly for CMAs. The backlogs in maintenance, licences and revenue and billing had to be addressed. The water pricing strategy and investment framework should be reviewed, and more research was needed on climate change and water security. Members asked about the number of mines without licences, called for a written report on the mining of river sand to support production at Medupi, and asked if there had been any instances where Eskom consumption affected other users. They asked what it was doing to assist municipalities, particularly in rural areas, how it planned to reduce water use, and asked for more comment on water catchments. Members asked if Eskom had looked into creating its own water supplies instead of using drinking water.

AgriSA appreciated the work put into the NWRS2, but believed that more attention was needed to fast-track setting up of CMAs, with delegation of water resource management functions. The dual nature of the agricultural economy was outlined, as well as its importance to the country. Irrigation was currently responsible for the bulk of non-staple food supply in the country, and was an area of great potential for creating jobs. AgriSA suggested that more hectares and better water had to be provided for Historically Disadvantaged South Africans. It did not agree with water rights being forfeited for water savings, and said incentive schemes were needed for water savings, and where existing owners were being asked to part with water rights. Better attention had to be paid to BEE legislation and Codes. It was possible that water allocations and land reform objectives must be aligned. AgriSA urged caution when considering import of crops from other countries in the region in order to make savings on irrigation. It urged more collaborative efforts to improve quality. Members asked how AgriSA discouraged illegal water use, called for clarity on the quotas, and asked if poor water quality was affecting exports. Members agreed with AgriSA on the need to look further into the disparity that mining was not subject to the same constraints as other sector. The Chairperson stressed that equitable distribution required a change of mindset and suggested that available water should be allocated equitably, and those with claims of a greater need must justify it.

South African Water Caucus welcomed the emphasis on the democratic developmental state in NWRS2, and agreed that citizen participation was necessary. It urged that ecological and human reserves remain the first priority in water resource allocation, and the “polluter pays” principle must remain in force. However, it challenged the assumption of a balance between ecology and the economy, and said that AMD and the potential impact of fracking must be recognised. Civil sector participation must be strengthened in the CMAs, by specific interventions by DWA, which were outlined. It felt that climate change was not adequately addressed, and called for a halt to expansion of timber plantations. Members asked for more clarity on catchment forums, and agreed that civil society relationships were vital.

The Committee considered the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill, accepted the explanation of the Department of Environmental Affairs for its non-attendance in the previous week and outlined some clauses in which changes were required. They noted, in particular, the court judgment on a recent proclamation and agreed with the Minister’s intention to withdraw the proclamation, for the time being, with the issue then being more fully addressed in the review of all legislation. A DA member made some suggestions as to how the relevant clause in the Bill could be amended, but, for the sake of clarity at this stage, it was decided rather to delete the clause, and carry the matter over. The drafters were asked to make the necessary changes.

Meeting report

National Water Resource Strategy 2: Public Hearings Day 2
The Chairperson briefly summarised the purpose and structure of the public hearings on the National Water Resource Strategy 2 (NWRS2 or the Strategy). He noted that the submission from a number of corporate entities were included in a submission made by Business Unity South Africa (BUSA). 

He hoped Members had received a copy of an interesting plea agreement concerning the environment in Mpumalanga.

Chamber of Mines (COM) submission
An official from the Chamber of Mines (COM) outlined that the COM supported the objectives of the NWRS2 and the strategic direction it provided to holistic water resources management in South Africa. The mining industry was affected by the threat of water scarcity, and was for this reason keenly interested in the development of a fair strategy that echoed the principle of equitable water resource management. The mining industry was encouraged to see that a Developmental Water Management (DWM) approach had been taken in this Strategy. She said the COM continued to forge closer relations with Department of Water Affairs (DWA or the Department) to develop other water-related initiatives, in support of the implementation of the NWRS2, including Water Conservation and Water Demand Management (WCWDM), Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) management, and regulations.

COM viewed the strategy as a legal instrument to plan, develop and manage water resources in an integrated manner, and this should be demonstrated in the document though a plan with clear deliverables and timeframes. The NWRS2 should be based on the outcomes of the review or assessment of the NWRS1. The strategy failed to provide strategic direction towards the challenges faced by municipalities, such as pollution and capacity. The implementation of the NWRS2 was the sole responsibility of Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs), and lack of progress in forming CMAs was of concern. Furthermore, there was a “high level” concerted effort by the industry and government to address the plight of AMD, and this progress was not reflected in the strategy.

The COM official then looked at specific comments on the NWRS2. She noted, from a business perspective, that water was considered as a material issue for sustainable and viable mining activities. COM disputed the assertions made in the Strategy that business lacked commitment in water resource management. Furthermore, although it was said that NWRS2 was aligned with other national development strategies, this was not what was seen in practice. In terms of water governance, DWA needed to effectively use the water sector leadership group to overcome planning challenges alluded to in the draft strategy.

In terms of the Strategy, WCWDM was a dedicated programme for setting targets for sectors, and it was to undertake a baseline assessment. COM believed that the focus should be on developing measures for achieving efficiency in water use, and not meeting targets. She outlined the need to strengthen the implementation of certain provisions of the National Water Act (NWA), to effectively realise the aspirations highlighted in this core strategy. The process to develop the water sector investment framework was acknowledged, but she said that the industry had no knowledge of the finalised framework document. It was critical to have adequate capacity for the implementation of the NWRS2. Government needed to detail how this capacity could be attained in the short, medium and long term.

The COM therefore recommended that the strategy be revised to include objectives, supported by implementation instruments, in the form of measurable action plans with clear lines of accountability and clear time frames for implementation. This was particularly needed in areas of concern to the mining industry. She listed the areas of concern as water use licensing/authorisation, security of water supply for the mining industry, the need for an intergovernmental approach to management of environmental legacies, the establishment of CMAs, integrated planning (water planning aligned with developmental plans such as mining), and capacity of government to administer the National Water Act (the Act) and its strategy.

Mr G Morgan (DA) commented that it was interesting that COM had highlighted the scarcity of water without acknowledging the role that COM and the mines played in the use of water, and the legacy of the mining industry. He asked what COM was doing to regularise mines in South Africa, and if any pressure was put on mines to apply for water licences. He also asked what proactive and practical steps the COM was taking to use water more efficiently, as he considered this a serious matter. He wanted the opinion of COM on how the Department was handling the closure of mines.

Mr Morgan’s main concern was to do with transparency, particularly in getting access to water licence information. Civil society was having a hard time accessing information, and he wanted to know why this was so difficult. If the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) was being fully implemented, this information would be published on the Internet. He asked for COM’s comment on this issue. He felt the COM should make a commitment to transparency by publishing water licence information. He said the Department did much to hold mines to account, but civil society was relied upon to provide further information.

Mr Morgan asked for COM’s view on the function of the Water Tribunal, asked if it would suggest any legislative amendments to the Tribunal, and to give comments on the mediation panel.

Mr S Huang (ANC) wanted to know the detail of how half of 22 mines operated without a water licence.

The Chairperson was deeply disappointed by the COM submission, and was particularly worried by the attitude that COM had towards AMD, suggesting that government here needed to fill a policy vacuum, despite the fact that AMD was the sole responsibility of mines. Not a single suggestion was made by the COM on how mines could deal with AMD, despite the fact that this was an ideal opportunity to do so. Instead, the submission was “a nagging session”. This Committee was sitting in the middle of trying to ensure that the interests of a host of stakeholders were taken into account, notably the executive and civil society. He said the COM was full of expectations of what the Department of Water should do, but had not made a single suggestion, which he found astounding and disappointing.

An official from the COM emphasised that unregulated mining activity also posed a threat to water resources, and urged that there should not be generalisations about the organised mining industry only. Its role was certainly acknowledged, but there must also be recognition of the unregulated activity and its impact. He found it unfair that the entire industry was held accountable for a few “opportunists and blood-suckers”. 

The Chairperson asked if the COM had ever issued public statements speaking out about mines operating without licences.

The official from the COM said the COM did not issue statements.

The Chairperson said this was clear, and would have expected COM to take a stand against the unregulated activities.

The official said that certain people who were found responsible had been removed from the COM and he could not take responsibility for their actions.

The Chairperson said that this comment, as well as the manner of engagement on the issues, seemed to be arrogant. Removing someone from a position was not the same as taking a stand on a morally wrong issue.

The official said this was his view, and he held to a certain stance. The presentation given had outlined the COM’s view, and he accepted that there might be different opinions.

He said that COM was looking to close the gaps in the industry. COM did not condone companies operating without a licence. In relation to water-efficiency, he wanted to point out that COM partnered with others to determine water efficiency in the various sub-areas of mining, and had identified 40 mines which were almost near to closure, and some that were newer, to investigate a project on retro-fitting. Results were expected on this by the end of 2013.

The official said it was a fair point that AMD was caused by mining, but again urged that this must be seen in the proper context. AMD was a legacy of 120 years of activity. He had spoken about policy gaps, and this was illustrated by he fact that there was no policy space or framework to deal with AMD. This was also a global problem, not unique to South Africa, but other countries had dedicated programmes to deal with the problem.

In relation to closure of mines, he noted that, to the best of his knowledge, no mine had received a closure certificates. In most cases there was not a simple issue around closure. Instead, there was a need to develop a closure strategy, where each mine considered its neighbours from an environmental and social aspect.

He noted the comments about the need for transparency, and said there were no reasons why the licence information could not be made accessible to the public.

The COM had some frustrations with the Water Tribunal, in relation to the offences. The law should take its course in terms of mines operating without licences.

Mr Morgan questioned whether COM supported integrated permitting.

The official said the COM did support integrated permitting, but the outcome was not what was expected of such a robust system. He said the capacity needed to be concomitant with the system designed.

Mr Huang wanted more detail on the mines operating without a water licence. He noted these must be legal mines, as they supplied coal to Eskom.

The official said that he did not have the information with him but would send through a list of the mining houses responsible, and an indication of whether they were members of the COM. Eskom received coal from a number of sources and some mines may not necessarily be COM members.

Sasol Submission
Mr Andries Meyer, New Energy Manager, Sasol, said his presentation would highlight the importance of water for Sasol, opportunities for private sector users to collaborate in reducing water losses and how private sector water user’s responses to shared water risks could be enhanced. This specific submission formed part of BUSA’s submission. Mr Meyer noted that Sasol was dependant on a reliable supply from the Vaal River system, and Sasol’s operations in Secunda and Sasolburg accounted for 4% of Vaal River system demand. He mentioned the Vaal system water demand per sector (see attached presentation).

Sasol had various internal measures to contribute to mitigating water risks. It had a strong focus on treatment and re-use of effluents, set internal water efficiency targets for Secunda and Sasolburg operations, and focused on development of new water and effluent treatment technologies. External measures included partnerships with local municipalities (Emfuleni, Govan Mbeki, Metsiaholo) on water conservation and demand management, repairing of leaks in schools in the Metsiaholo municipality, and partnerships with DWA on water education and awareness in schools (as seen in the 2020 Vision for Water Education). Sasol also trained farmers using irrigation to improve water use efficiency, and was exploring opportunities to reduce losses in the agriculture sector and technology development with the Water Research Commission (WRC) and several universities. Sasol had endorsed the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate and was a member of the SA Strategic Partnership Network.

In relation to water security and water use efficiency, Sasol commended DWA for the proposals to reduce municipal water losses by 15% and develop water use efficiency regulations for mining and industry. It noted the eradication of illegal irrigation water use, implementation of phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Augmentation Scheme, implementation of solutions to address the legacy of AMD, and water policy and regulatory reform including pricing strategy, an independent regulator and infrastructure asset management.

Mr Meyer said that there was an ideal opportunity to involve the private sector in reducing municipal water losses. He highlighted the “Project Boloka Metsi” in Emfuleni municipality.

He also highlighted the collective response on objectives of the NWRS, and said 40 000 households were targeted in phase one of Sebokeng/Evaton, where the first savings achieved were 100 000m3 (equivalent to 50 Olympic swimming pools). The targeted savings were R60 million m3 per annum. 54 local Water Warriors and local plumbers were employed, and there was a strong focus on community training, education and awareness.

Mr Meyer said Sasol would like to see a water off-setting policy included as part of the NWRS2. Off-setting would allow industry water saving targets to be achieved, through credited external water savings. This also had an impact on water quality.

In summary, Mr Meyer repeated that assurance of water supply was critical for Sasol and business growth in South Africa. He urged that the private sector water user’s response to shared water risks could be enhanced. A water off-setting policy could support several of the objectives of the NWRS, by incentivising private sector water users to invest in addressing risks, achieve more cost-effective improvements, and maintain assurance of supply to existing users. Water must be made available for historically-disadvantaged individuals, and to promote growth.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) questioned Sasol’s strategy to reduce the use of water. He wanted to know how Sasol assisted areas, outside of Mpumalanga, in terms of water management. 

Mr Meyer said Sasol’s operations from Secunda and Sasolburg were focusing on three main areas. The collaboration with the private sector and the municipality was successful, and the principles could be used as a model to be used by other companies in other areas.

Ms C Zikalala (IFP) was not happy with the figures, and needed more clarity on some sections of the presentation. She asked how Sasol sought to control use of irrigation by farmers, and thought that some of the presentation did not reflect what was happening on the ground. 

Mr Meyer clarified the slides in question. He agreed that it was not Sasol’s responsibility, but that of the DWA, to control use of irrigation by farmers. However, it was necessary to instil a culture change in private water users, particularly by educating them on the risks of wasting water or using it improperly. This was where Sasol helped, by using the “water warriors” programme.

Mr Morgan commended Sasol for the work it was doing, which went beyond expectations. He was in agreement with the concept of water off-setting, and would like to see the DWA interacting further with this matter. He asked Sasol checked that companies with whom it dealt in the supply chain did have the relevant licences and complied with legislation. He also asked how Sasol dealt with possible cases of pollution.

Mr Meyer said Sasol was different to other companies, in that all the supplying mines for Sasol were fully controlled by Sasol, which also therefore was able to control their compliance. He agreed that it was possible to make improvements in looking at the compliance of other suppliers.

Mr Huang questioned the implementation of Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), from Sasol’s perspective.

An official from Sasol said that Sasol was reliant on the Vaal river system. However, he also noted that this system was out of balance in that the demand was greater than the supply. Sasol believed that Phase 2 of the LHWP was important for water security in the inland regions of South Africa, particularly as a form of protection against drought or low rainfall.

The Chairperson asked that the DWA should look further into the question of off-setting.

Eskom submission
Ms Maharaj,“Manager, Eskom, said that Sasol had highlighted the approach that Eskom took on many issues, but her presentation would look at the specific importance of water to Eskom, and other comments on the NWRS2.

Ms Maharaj said that Eskom had eight strategic imperatives, the most important being to lead and be a partner in “keeping the lights on”, to reduce its environmental footprint and pursue low-carbon growth opportunities, to secure future resource requirements mandates and the required enabling environment, and to ensure its financial sustainability.

Eskom was a significant water user, and this determined the future locality for new power stations. I had a heavy reliance on relatively water intensive, wet cooled power stations. Water risks in the medium to long term related mostly to water resource security, which was threatened by competing interests, increasing water demands and growing water deficits, coupled with illegal water use, water losses and climate change impacts. Other risks were related to the currently inadequate maintenance and unreliability of water supply infrastructure, and the need for costly and timeous development of new water infrastructure. Pollution of water resources would make water unusable or drive up the costs of treatment and management of waste. In the longer term, climate variability would impact on the yield of water resources and infrastructure availability at local, catchment and national level. A higher rainfall would impact on the coal supply chain.

Eskom had made its first submission to the NWRS2 in November 2011, which had contained sixteen recommendations for areas of planning, policy and operations. The recommendations around planning highlighted the need to improve the alignment between water and energy planning processes, and to engage with stakeholders beyond Eskom. In the policy arena, some of the recommendations were that DWA had to develop a formal policy for desalination attached to coastal power stations, and to develop a standardised cross industry framework for measuring a reporting water footprint. In terms of operations, the recommendations were to rapidly implement the Waste Discharge System, address gaps in the current water sector governance framework, encourage improved and faster service provision and, most importantly, to encourage water users to subscribe to the principles of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate.

The Chairperson asked what a “dry-cooling policy” was.

Ms Maharaj explained that this replaced wet cooling systems.

Ms Maharaj continued to set out Eskom’s recommendations to enhance the strategy. Eskom had also noted the need to develop a more structured framework which clearly linked strategic goals to activities and enabling actions. There had to be improved mapping of timelines, highlighting interdependencies and implications of not meeting certain goals. Finally, a bottom-up analysis was needed of all water use and water quality, by catchment/river system.

Eskom supported the core strategies in the NWRS2, but wanted to make some further recommendations. There was a need to encourage water stewardship through the value chain. There was currently misalignment between water and energy planning processes. There was a need to improve national water resources infrastructure management, improve water sector service provision in terms of institutional reform, especially in the area of CMAs, and to close gaps in maintenance backlogs, water licence backlogs and revenue and billing deficits. Other recommendations were to review the current water pricing strategy and investment framework. Decline in water quality was adversely affecting Eskom operations, and this would have to be addressed. More research was needed on climate change and water security research and there was a need to clarify the definitions around “strategic water users”.

Mr Morgan questioned the number of mines without water licences. He asked if mines were regarded as national key points, and if this prevented Eskom from realising details on the particular mines. He asked what Eskom was doing the cases of mines that did not have licences, and if was signing new contracts with any mines who did not have licences for future procurement.

Mr Morgan questioned the construction of the Medupi power stations and sand-mining of rivers to provide sand for the production at Medupi. He asked what Eskom was doing to rectify the damage this mining had caused. He questioned the water available to Medupi. He asked if there had been any cases where Eskom’s water consumption had comprised the consumption of other water users, and, if so, what the response of Eskom had been.

Mr Morgan wanted to know if Eskom was doing anything to make restoration in communities or improve governance in municipalities.

Mr Skosana also wanted quantification of statements in the submission about plans to assist rural communities.

Mr Skosana asked if there had been cases of water pollution and how Eskom dealt with the matter.

Mr Skosana asked with which stakeholders Eskom was engaging.

Mr Skosana asked if Eskom had any strategy, plan or intention to reduce the amount of water projected for use in the case of Kusile.

Mr Huang questioned where key catchment areas were, and wanted more detail on this issue of catchments and water security. 

The Chairperson noted that Eskom had huge projections for water use, but wanted to know if Eskom had considered the extent to which it might create its own water supply; it was not necessary for Eskom to use purified drinking water. This was an area that he believed required more creative thinking.

Ms Maharaj said noted that procurement policies had only become very stringent after 2010. It was at this time that Eskom had embarked on a process of good control and assurance for the mining industry, and the authorisation and water use licences in that industry. Currently, Eskom used 40 supplying mines, and of those, half were in the process of getting a water use licence. She said there had been engagement with DWA on some of the backlog issues. Eskom did not procure from suppliers that did not have water use licences.

Ms Maharaj confirmed that Eskom, together with the mining industry, was looking at some of the environmental risks, and was trying to ensure that plans would be put in place to address them. Mines, in terms of the national key point legislation, were not regarded as key points, and the reluctance to provide information was because of commercial arrangements and the implications of disclosure to these arrangements.

Eskom did provide assistance to other stakeholders. There was a joint agreement with some of the bigger mines, and in certain areas Eskom and the mines were looking to develop a significant water treating plant to treat the water from the two mines, so that this water could then be re-used for the power stations.

The Chairperson asked what the quantity or volume would be.

Mr Govender, Manager, Eskom, said the plant would produce between 20 and 30 megalitres per day.

Ms Maharaj said the exact figures could not be given at the moment, but it was a significant part of WCWD management.

Mr Govender added that there was a joint initiative in place in Limpopo to explore the use of treated water. He mentioned other projects that were at the early stages of discussion and development with mining houses. In relation to the sand-mining, he noted that although he did not have this information with him, he would provide it to the Committee.

Mr Govender noted that Eskom  was looking at projects to put water back into the Lephalale Municipality, in the Medupi power station project. There were many WCWD strategies to reduce Eskom’s water footprint, with many of the power stations. Eskom was a leader in water usage and dry cooling.  There were also a number of other projects to look at sewerage waste, as well as other projects to replicate other strategies and agreements in key areas. Eskom had a provincial collaboration in Mpumalanga to look at how to provide water to communities. It was also looking at retro-fitting to prevent water loss. Eskom was particularly concerned about the Vaal River catchment, and the need to pursue water conservation. He said the issue around both Kusile and Medupi was how to balance the needs to reduce carbon emissions and saving of water. 

Mr Morgan was surprised that more detail could not be given on the Mogoro issue immediately. He wanted a written response, pointing to a damning report that had been given by the UN on mining from the rivers. 

Ms Maharaj assured him that this report could be sent.

AgriSA submission
Mr Dan Kriek, Chairperson, AgriSA, expressed his appreciation that a great deal of work had been put into the NWRS. AgriSA recognised the NWRS2 as the strategic direction for water resource management for the next twenty years. He noted the intention that interventions for water should come from a business approach, with government support, and the need for social interventions. He mentioned key drivers and the alignment of NWRS2 with national development strategies.

Mr Kriek highlighted the priority actions, which included fast tracking the establishment of CMAs in priority catchments. AgriSA believed that it should apply to all envisaged CMAs, and that water resource management functions should be delegated accordingly. There was a need for transformation of all Irrigation Boards in Water User Associations (WUA), and the delegation of local water resource management functions to WUAs that had the capacity to perform the required functions. This must be coupled with creating capacity in WUAs that did not currently have capacity, as a preliminary to transferring those functions to them over time.

The Chairperson asked how these actions were important for agriculture from the perspective of AgriSA. .

Mr Kriek said Agri-SA believed that management of water should be brought down to the people who used it on a day to day basis.

The Chairperson asked what should happen when the CMAs were not in place.

Mr Kriek said this role would be performed by the regions of the Department.

The Chairperson asked why Agri-SA preferred to see CMAs have this function.

Mr Nick Opperman, Director: Natural Resources, AgriSA, said that the Act prescribed that regions should fulfil the role where there were no CMAs. However, AgriSA noted that there were many CMAs already in place. They had great potential, but their expertise varied widely. If all were capacitated, their expertise would ensure that water was better managed.

Mr Kriek then looked at the contribution of agriculture. South Africa had a dual agricultural economy, with part of it being a well-developed commercial sector and the other being predominately subsistence-orientated. 13% of land surface areas could be used be used for crop production, and there was 22% high potential land. 1.6 million hectares (ha) of arable land were under irrigation. 8% of total employment was involved in primary agriculture. Agriculture had the potential to create more jobs for every R1 million invested. He emphasised that although it seemed a low direct contribution to the overall economy, agriculture had strong backward and forward linkages. Other agricultural contributions were that the agro-industrial sector, or value chain, contributed between 12% and 15% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and over the past five years, agricultural exports had contributed on average 8% of total South African exports. South Africa was self-sufficient in virtually all major agricultural products, and was a net exporter of many products.

Mr Kriek then examined the agricultural implications of the NWRS2. Irrigation was currently responsible for the bulk of non-staple food supply in the country (barring meat), and irrigation was the most labour intensive subsector of agriculture. From an employment creation perspective, even marginal opportunities in irrigation should be exploited. In terms of water allocation reform challenges and the direct access to available water, he said that there was availability, but under-use, of water for approximately 100 000 ha for Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDIs), and further irrigation potential, coupled with more efficient use and refurbishment, of existing irrigation systems. 

The Chairperson asked if AgriSA was suggesting that water allocation reform should be primarily concentrated on protecting water safety.

Mr Kriek said that this was not Agri-SA’s view, but instead it was suggesting that more hectares could be put aside for HDIs. He noted that he would come back to clarify this point.

Mr Kriek continued to examine some of the water allocation reform challenges, and the direct access to available water. Agri-SA said that water rights should not be forfeited as a result of water savings, and an incentive or compensation scheme should be allowed for existing owners of water rights to part with those rights in favour of HDIs, where trading of water rights did not deliver on socio-economic or equity considerations. Incentives were needed to encourage savings of water. More research was needed into the amount of water available for allocation.

He moved on to look at water allocation reform in terms of indirect access to available water. Farmers should adhere to BEE related legislation and Codes of Good Practice. At present, DWA was implementing an ill-informed internal BEE guideline, which resulted in sterilisation of related water resources, an extremely narrow interpretation of section 27 of the NWA, and limited survey results. A possible answer could lie in the proposed alignment of water allocation targets with land reform objectives, as the two could not be treated in isolation but must be seen holistically.

He briefly looked at water quality and water and mining. He said AgriSA was part of the water partners network.

Mr Kriek then discussed water resource implications, and noted that the import of food crops from countries in the region, to reduce the need for irrigation in South Africa, was under discussion, as this would decrease pressure on water demand. This also related to policies on food security and the possibility for development in those areas. This, however, could be problematic, and Agri-SA urged a cautious approach.

Agri-SA said a collaborative effort was needed towards improving water quality. Direct access to available water should be exploited, and pre- and post-settlement support was needed. It recommended that BEE matters could be dealt with by Agri BEE Charter. Tradability of water rights was of paramount importance. “Lawful use of water” implied the need to be compliant with the relevant legislation, which would include paying any required tariffs. The use of  “wall-to-wall” WUAs and interface with CMAs could be the answer to ensuring lawful water use.

The Chairperson asked what measures AgriSA had taken to deal with and discourage illegal water use, particularly on the Vaal River.

Mr Kriek confirmed that measures had been taken, but said that illegal water use had taken on a life of its own, with an informal economy. AgriSA had made public statements on several occasions, to try to discourage illegal use of water. However, this was a complex problem of huge proportions, and dealing with the matter would require a far-reaching approach and consequences.

Mr Opperman said that he had personally developed a guideline on water use rights, but the process had taken a long time.

Mr Skosana wanted clarity on certain points.

An official from AgriSA said there was an allocated quota use, and the use of less than the legal quota at one time should not lead to forfeiting of that quota in the future. She urged that there was a need to look at what was not allocated, and stressed again that land and water use must be seen holistically, as the two were inextricably linked. 

Mr Morgan asked to what extent poor quality water potentially threatened the exports of members of AgriSA, and if there were examples that could be cited. He questioned the extent to which AgriSA engaged with the Department of Minerals and Energy. He also asked for comments on the potential efficiency gains in the agricultural sector that would allow for some water to be freed up for other use.

Mr Kriek said that agriculture was at severe risk, and more water research was needed.

Mr Opperman said that there was concern about reaching the standards for exporting, and noted the research that was undertaken into the treatment of water, but said that at this stage the matter was confidential and he could not say much more. There was an indirect forum to engage with the Department of Minerals and Energy, and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, with a subcommittee for water issues. He said Department of Health was also involved. More efficient use of water was being examined through programmes of the Water Research Commission.

Mr Kriek added, in relation to mining, that this was the only industry subjected to a less rigorous environmental assessment. He felt that this was the crux of the problem, and that it should fall under the control of Department of Environmental Affairs.

The Chairperson said that many Members held the same view, but the matter was not a simple one, as many interests and forces had been taken into account when creating exemptions. He trusted that a solution could be found to this glaring anomaly, but noted it was part of processes and politics.

Mr Kriek said South Africans needed to rethink energy and food production, as entire ecosystems were being destroyed. He said strong leadership and vision were needed, and the longer these issues remained unaddressed, the more severe the situation would become.

The Chairperson said the main point behind the NWRS was the need for an equitable distribution of water. The history of South Africa, and the consequences of the apartheid system, would continue for many years into the future. to the problem. He wanted AgriSA, and other sectors, to acknowledge that their support for the NWRS core aim for equitable water access meant that things would have to change. It was an indictment that people living next to dams were not able to access the water from those dams. Industry had to look into the issue in more depth, if they really believed in the Constitutional rights of all, and make changes. His view was to allocate the available water, and leave those claiming that they needed more to justify their claims, possibly before the courts.

South African Water Caucus Submission 5: SA Water Caucus
Mr Victor Munnik, Representative, South African Water Caucus, explained that the Caucus (SAWC) was a network of more than twenty community-based organisations, NGOs and trade unions active in promoting the wise, equitable and just use, protection and provision of water, which had been formed in the lead-up to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

SAWC had met on 16 and 17 August, with DWA, to consider the NWRS2, had consulted in provincial caucuses and had shared views with the Water Sector Leadership Group meeting.

SAWC welcomed the emphasis on the democratic developmental state in NWRS2. The water sector needed citizen participation, since, from a political and legal point of view, South Africa’s water resources belonged to the people, with the State being the custodian. Active citizenry shaped a developmental state, and this should be reflected, from a practical standpoint, in the process of consultation towards the finalisation of the NWRS2. This Strategy was an important, potentially powerful and binding document. He hoped that it would be properly publicised, unlike the first Strategy, which was apparently known to fewer than 4% of Department of Water Affairs officials.

Mr Munnik noted that the Strategy was pro-poor, and was written in development-friendly language. However, the current comment period should be used to check the technical strategies. NWRS2 must ensure that the ecological and human reserves remained the first priority in water resource allocation, and the “polluter pays” principle remained in force.

NWRS2 wrongly assumed that there was currently a “balance” between the ecology and the economy, and it must be recognised that the economy should operate within the limits of the earth’s natural laws. A prime example of this was AMD, and it was expected that fracking in the Karoo would have a similar impact. He said that water use footprints should be considered, and there should be clear commitment to specify that some areas should not be used for development, such as wetlands, places of significant biodiversity, and cultural heritage sites such as Mapungubwe.

SAWC appreciated the emphasis on participation in the NWRS2. However, in the roll-out of CMAs, it urged that civil society should play a major role. In order to sustain civil society participation, there was a need for forums, or sub-catchment forums at grassroots levels. DWA should improve participation, by providing, for example, funding for travel to support civil society and community participation, translation of documents, by giving proper notice of meetings and providing access to documents.

SAWC wanted to ensure that WCMD was pro-poor, and it welcomed the statement that the strategy foresaw water savings in commercial agriculture to be reallocated to emerging and household farmers, including rural women. 

Mr Munnik noted his concern about the role of big players and said that the UN CEO Water Mandate and the SA Strategic Water Partners Network had established themselves as close partners of government, as advisors, and were well placed to secure interests in terms of raw water requirements and water quality regulation.

The SAWC was concerned that climate change was not adequately addressed in the NWRS2, especially in terms of the carbon footprint and desalination.

Mr Munnik said the expansion of timber plantations needed to be halted or reversed, as it led to large- scale transformation of the grassland biome.

He concluded that SAWC felt that the NWRS2 should be a living document, which needed commitment from all stakeholders, in view of the great social and political importance of water, and its impact on social protests.

The Chairperson wanted more clarity, both from the presenters and the DWA, about the “pro-poor” issues.

Mr Samson Mokena, Representative, SAWC, said the catchment forums were a key tool for community voices to be heard and were, therefore, very important. SAWC urged the Department to support these forums with funding and resources.

The Chairperson said that he had not heard about catchment forums until today, but would take the issue forward.

Mr Munnik added that they were mentioned in the NWRS1 as useful platforms, and there had been an implicit assurance that they would be developed further. They did not exist wall to wall, but tended to be set up when citizens had issues in a particular area. They were supported by the Department in many ways, but remained limited in number. The SAWC would like to see relationships between civil society, the Department and the Committee being taken further. The work with the Department could be extended, as active citizens could be very useful in protecting water resources.

The Chairperson agreed fully with this comment, and said that the Committee definitely wanted to ensure that the DWA succeeded. The invitations to make submissions were sent to civil society first This Committee, and individual MPs from the provinces, could be used to raise issues that needed to be taken further with the DWA.

The Chairperson said the public hearings would finalised in the following week, and the Department would respond thereafter.

National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill (NEMLA): Department of Environmental Affairs input
The Chairperson said that he had accepted the responses of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on its failure to attend the meeting in the previous week. However, he drew the distinction between the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) compliance and the passing of the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill (the Bill). He noted that the Committee had been through the amended version of the Bill, to check the clauses that were inserted, deleted or changed. This meeting would outline some concerns.

The Chairperson noted that Mr Morgan had drawn attention to a judgment, which created problems around the appeal process and the proclamation. There was lack of consensus on the issue. He said the safer route for the Committee to follow would be, at this stage, to remove anything that might be in conflict with that judgment. The point would probably be dealt with during the full legislative review by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

Mr Morgan agreed that the Committee should rather err on the side of caution. The process should be followed properly, so that there was less chance of further litigation against the Minister and Department. People who felt aggrieved would be likely to challenge the process behind the passing of the Bill, and this could create problems, so that it was important to achieve certainty.

Ms Linda Garlipp, Chief Director: Law Reform and Appeals, DEA, said that she would have no problem with this approach. The issue was being looked into by the Office of the President, the Chief State Law Advisor and the DEA, with a view to amending the proclamation and repealing all previous proclamations, for the sake of clarity, in the interim.

The Chairperson agreed that this made more legal sense.

Mr Morgan asked if the Department was admitting, by seeking an amendment, that it would not have a good case on appeal. He felt that a discussion was needed on the point, and made suggestions for greater clarity on the point.

The Chairperson noted that this was, as an interim step, an appropriate response by the DEA. The suggestions of Mr Morgan could be considered when DEA attended to a full legislative review. However, those aspects that could cause a problem or conflict should, in the meantime, also be removed from the Bill.

The Committee went through the rest of the Bill. They noted that further work was needed on issues around “competent authority” in terms of the MEC, as well as “delegation”, and the legal drafters were asked to deal with these issues. Further points were raised in relation to some of the clauses, and the legal drafters were again asked to make the necessary changes and bring them back to the Committee.

The Chairperson said that once these changes had been effected, the Committee would again look at the Bill with a view to passing it.

Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report
The Chairperson noted that the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report on the Department of Water Affairs would be adopted on the following Thursday, 25 October.

The meeting was adjourned.


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