The Committee met with officials from the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) to hear public submissions on the National Water Resource Strategy Two (NWRS2) by the National Planning Commission (NPC), Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), the Chemical and Allied Industries Association (CAIA), The Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (WESSA) and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).
The submission from the NPC covered areas related to matters of priority, areas of policy importance, the investment programme, how the NWRS2 measured up, challenges and reporting on progress. The submission also looked at internal contradictions, institutional proposals, water security, the National Water Act (NWA) and the approach of the NPC.
BUSA highlighted water as a global issue, the preferred approach of BUSA, water sector challenges, the security of supply and the regulatory regime. It also looked at the availability and mobilisation of necessary resources, the inadequate maintenance and operation of infrastructure, lack of clarity, private sector participation and monitoring and evaluation.
CAIA’s presentation supported the submission by BUSA, and looked at water conservation, water use efficiency, economic charge and regulatory reform.
WESSA covered a comprehensive list of areas related to the work of water officials, ten core water strategies, the developmental state and water policy, the NDP and equitable growth and development. It also looked at the green economy, justice and equitability, protecting water ecosystems, climate change and the impacts of dams. Other areas highlighted were smarter governance, Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs), sustainable business, and water sector investment. Also discussed were water resource stretching, water use efficiency, the private sector, strategic water partnerships and the UN CEO Water Mandate elements.
The suggested recommendations from SALGA were for adequate information about trends in particular of water availability to, and use by, water services providers. The need to recognise and use the process of preparing the Water Service Development Plans (WSDPs) as an opportunity for municipalities to engage with water resource issues could not be over emphasised. Proposals to reduce the reliability of water supplied, in order to make more water available for allocation to historically disadvantaged groups, was cause for concern - focus should rather be on compulsory licensing to reallocate water in an organised way, while maintaining reliability of supplies. The absence of clarity on financing issues needed to be clarified, as at present, operation and maintenance costs for water resource schemes were supposed to be covered by water use charges.
The Chairperson strongly recommended that the Department should hold a session with local government to find solutions to the problems raised. If the problems of local government were not sorted out, the Department’s problems would not be solved either, as their plans were dependent on this. The Committee would be having a meeting in January to look at all the cross-cutting water and environmental issues, and SALGA may be invited to come up with solutions.
Submission 1: National Planning Commission (NPC)
Mr Mike Muller, a commissioner of the NPC, said his submission reflected comments that came officially from the Commission. He had looked at the four priority areas, which were to establish a National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency (NWRIA) to manage water resource infrastructure, reduce demand as a national objective, manage agricultural use better and investigate water reuse and desalination.
The four areas of policy importance were, firstly, that enhanced management capacity would be needed to address the increasing pressure on water resources. Secondly, institutional arrangements for water-resource management needed to be improved – specifically, the number of water-management areas to be established, the mechanisms through which users would be involved in water management, and the organisation of major water resource infrastructure. Thirdly, existing water allocations would have to be reviewed in terms of compulsory licensing, where new users were seeking access when current users had already taken more than could reliably be provided. There was statutory provision for these reviews, which if not undertaken, would result in a rise in illegal use and the over-allocation of the resource. This would reduce supply reliability, jeopardise existing social and economic uses and damage the environment. Fourthly, strategic planning decisions needed to guide water-management approaches on general economic and social development, as well as environmental protection in key geographic areas.
Mr Muller said a comprehensive investment programme was needed for water-resource development. Bulk-water supply and wastewater management had to be established for major centres, and should be reviewed every five years. This programme should include the major investment projects, with a clear allocation of responsibilities for financing and implementation, and set targets for completion.
Looking at how the NWRS2 measured up, he said the NPC welcomed its release, although late, but was disappointed with its contents. He said the NWRS2 needed to comply with the requirements of the National Water Act (NWA) (1998), but it did not specifically, provide the information required by the NWA, did not report on progress since the NWRS 2004 was adopted, and did not provide sufficient information to evaluate the proposals made. It was also internally contradictory in crucial respects and contained proposals which, if implemented, would threaten water security for South Africa and all South Africans. If this NWRS2 was adopted as a guide to DWA’s programme of action, the goals that it set for itself were not likely to be achieved.
Mr Muller said the NWRS was a serious challenge to the Committee, Parliament and the country, as it seemed the Department was simply ignoring the law. Answering the question as to why the NWRS2 did not follow the structure outlined by the NWA, he said the NWA required a national information system and the DWA had said that it was not there and would be ready by 2019 – which was 21 years later. A key challenge was the need to provide detailed updated information per water management area. This detailed information was not available in an appropriate format and location, and could not be reflected. There were no updated estimates of water use since 2000, DWA’s desire for water to be at the centre of planning would not be taken seriously if it could not share information with stakeholders. The core of an information system should be put in place within 12 months, before the decentralisation of activities to catchment management areas (CMAs), to guide the development of their information management systems.
The NWRS2 did not report on progress since the NWRS1 had been adopted. Demand management was highlighted in NWRS2 but in the NWRS1 it was already stated that: “An effective Water Conservation and Water Demand Management (WC/WDM) programme for the water supply and sanitation services sector was essential.” He asked what had happened in the past eight years, what progress had been made against the targets set, what problems had been encountered and what solutions and actions they proposed should be taken.
Mr Muller said the NWRS2 was internally contradictory, for instance, when looking at ecological reserves. The NWRS2 gave the impression that the process was proceeding well but in many water management areas, the ecological portion of the “Reserve”, which specified the quantity and quality of water required for the protection of aquatic ecosystems, was not yet fully implemented. He said the actual situation reported elsewhere in the document was that in many catchment areas like the Limpopo, Olifants, Komati, and Vaal, projects could not be implemented without major socio-economic impacts, if at all. If environmental protection was an important objective of water resource policy and strategy, this challenge had to be recognised and addressed.
Looking at institutional proposals, the proposal to establish CMAs repeated what had been said in 2004. He said a reduction in numbers might help, but questioned whether it would reduce stakeholder engagement and how it would be addressed. The proposal on the National Water Resource Infrastructure arrangements avoided the challenge of two agencies, the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) and DWA, doing the same job, often in same place, and uncertainty about responsibility causing delays. The DWA’s high costs had been criticised and performance was acknowledged to be poor. The looming question was whether to amalgamate the two organisations not.
Mr Muller turned to proposals which threatened SA’s water security, noting that proposals on reducing water supply assurance was troubling, and suggested the challenges were not understood. The challenge was that water was increasingly scarce in a growing number of places. There was no additional water and although this was not a crisis, it required focused policy and action. He said the approaches proposed were not encouraging – it was said DWA would clear the backlog in water use licensing by 2016 and would put in place streamlined processes to ensure that licence applications were dealt with in a reasonable time. The problem was not licensing, however, but saying no. There should be no individual licences without compulsory licensing.
He questioned if the goal was water security. Water security was all about reliability and predictability, but “the implementation of the Water Allocation Reform programme will be given high priority by DWA … and will be addressed through a number of programmes, including compulsory licensing (which will be completed in three catchments by 2014) … The reduction of assurance of supply for existing water users, as well as reduction of water losses will be critical components of making more water available to historically disadvantaged, small-scale users”. He said DWA must balance different needs, not avoid decisions and must not choose to have water cuts, unnecessarily.
Mr Muller looked at the NWA’s approach to water scarcity, or when sufficient water was not available. It could allocate administratively, but it required extensive capacity, allocate through trading, which was effective but often inequitable for social uses, or do nothing, which damaged everyone as water supply became insecure. The current system was mixed. Overall allocation was administrative and trading was allowed between commercial users. Compulsory licensing was a mechanism in the NWA, but the NWRS2 had no substantive proposal to do anything, as the three small catchments listed were the same as proposed in 2004.
Reading the NWRS2 alongside the National Development Plan (NDP), it was suggested that one core approach and four key themes should be prioritised, and not 23 strategies and 78 strategic actions. The first priority was to stick to existing policy and solve problems of implementation. Legislative review should be done only to simplify administrative processes, not to change policy principles. The second priority should be to implement compulsory licensing in critical catchments (to address competing needs and determine the feasibility of environmental reserves). The third priority should be to set up key institutions, CMAs, a framework for stakeholder involvement and sensible water resource infrastructure organisation. The fourth priority should provide an investment framework with key projects, estimated costs, financing responsibilities, timelines and implementing agents. The fifth priority should provide information and establish a structured framework for water resource information throughout the water sector.
Mr Muller said the NPC approach to implementation was to learn by doing, through piloting, to have the flexibility if the evidence suggested it, to involve key stakeholders in facilitating planning and the design of experiments to ensure high level of buy-in and to ensure participants understood the current system. Implementation required a clear accountability framework and an aim to achieve a co-designed rollout plan which took into account the realities faced by all stakeholders. The NWRS2 had the seeds of the same approach, but they needed to be harvested.
The NPC was half way through its term and over the next two years would mobilise support in society for the plan, conduct research on long term priorities, advise government and the broader society on implementation of the plan, work with relevant bodies to report progress on the targets in the plan and would be available to support DWA and the water sector generally to refine and strengthen the strategy.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) wanted to know if the NPC had a plan in place, at present, to assist provinces on the issue of water.
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked what formal interactions the NPC had had with DWA. He noted the drafting of the NWRS and the NDP overlapped somewhat, in terms of time, and asked the extent to which DWA sought input from the NPC, or if they had offered input. He asked if the NPC saw water occupying a larger space as an important issue, and how this would impact on the NDP.
Dr S Huang (ANC) questioned the NPC’s reasons for suggesting that the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) and DWA become one organisation. He also questioned the relationship between DWA and the NPC for water planning.
The Chairperson said he would have liked to have had more time to engage with the issues raised by the NPC. He suggested that the NPC allocate substantial time to sit down with DWA, as he felt there had been no real interaction between the two. He wanted the NPC to focus on certain issues, like the fragmentation of the system, which he felt was the biggest problem. Fragmentation occurred when many different powers were handed out to different agencies. An analysis of this fragmentation was needed. There were many institutions operating with boards of directors which made their own policy and decisions, but which eventually became buffers which stood in the way of service delivery. He said catchment areas needed to be looked at scientifically as to how they could be better managed, as he felt that CMAs looked at matters too narrowly. The Department had not fully looked at fragmentation completely. He was also concerned about the funding model and the fact that there were no obligations to spend funds on water. The mechanism whereby funding was handed down to local government from Treasury had no obligations attached, and this was where the problem began. He could not understand how municipalities had massive reserves, but had not put any plans in action for infrastructure. He said the silo manner in which planning was done and the bad funding model, were a cause of major concern. These issues need to be central to the debate. Things could be changed and fixed, but they came with huge political decisions, such as the pricing strategy. The NPC and DWA needed to sit down for a deeper debate on key issues, such as CMAs. He felt there were all these strategies because people were trying to catch their tails. If water was so important to the NPC, it would not be tucked away in some chapter. He could not understand how an entire chapter was not dedicated to water as everything flowed from water. He raised the example of the enormous potential Australia had, but because of a lack of water, development was constrained. He was concerned the same thing could happen to SA.
Mr Muller said the NPC was interacting regularly with the provinces to look at cross-sectoral challenges that needed to be met between sectors and between provincial and national government.
He said the NPC had met with the Department to discuss the draft NDP and received a lot of input. He said he would like to think that meeting had set the framework for the NWRS, as the same kind of issues had been discussed. It if the NDP was read carefully, one could see the issue of water was discussed throughout. Water was cross-cutting and needed to be involved in all the sectors.
Answering the question on the TCTA and DWA, he said the construction of dams was done under the auspices of TCTA from money from water users – for instance, the City of Cape Town. He said that sometimes with other projects, money came from government and the budget, which could raise questions on how things were decided on and by whom. He said there were also problems with the national water resource infrastructure agency.
Mr Muller said it was important to distinguish between provincial and local government functions and functions of national government, when looking at fragmentation. Water was better managed in relatively smaller communities, which was the intention of CMAs. He felt institutional arrangements could be simplified, in terms of the boards of directors, and said the control of the Minister should be clear. He had hoped that such issues had been sorted out between the first and second NWRS. He was concerned about pricing and the faith placed in independent regulators. He felt the learning opportunities presented by the NWRS had not been sufficiently used. He would be glad to further the debate on these issues.
The Chairperson and the Committee strongly recommended that the NPC and the Department meet soon to start a proper process to fine tune the document. The funding model was the biggest problem in a country where money was not being spent on what it was intended for, and this needed to be changed. These recommendations should be in the document, so that Cabinet could agree or disagree to change the process. This was urgent, as water was central to the development of SA. The Chairperson said he therefore found it absurd that water was tucked away under “infrastructure” in the NDP. He also wanted the NPC to look at the issue of sanitation in relation to water.
Submission 2: Business Unity South Africa
Ms Lorraine Lotter, BUSA: executive director, said water was a global issue requiring local solutions. She said the world had some serious water problems in terms of growing demand, competition and a backlog in basic water and sanitation services, persistent water pollution and ecosystem deterioration and climate change concerns, and inequitable benefit sharing. Water was a key issue on the business sustainability agenda.
She highlighted the water sector challenges. These were the security of supply, the complex regulatory regime which was not achieving the required objectives, the availability and mobilisation of necessary resources, inadequate maintenance and operation of infrastructure, lack of clarity on functional responsibility in some areas, private sector participation and monitoring and evaluation.
Ms Lotter looked at the security of supply, noting that universal access to basic water supplies must be prioritised and a clear action plan to achieve the required coverage by 2014 must be included in the strategy, water for productive purposes needed to be aligned with sectoral development strategies, and water demand management was also an important intervention in stretching the current use of the resource. In terms of demand side management, it should be pursued much more aggressively, particularly in the water supply systems, where water losses remained unacceptably high. Engagement was needed with the private sector on possible joint initiatives on water losses, while a number of industry sectors were currently working with the Department on developing audit protocols to be applied in industrial facilities.
The reference to regulatory reform was welcomed, but there was no indication that there was common ground on the challenges. The business priorities were for the consideration of a nationally harmonised approach to licensing, a review of licensing processes, the introduction of a tracking system for license applications and a review of the approach to the development of receiving water quality objectives to be improved, and for the enforcement of requirements.
Ms Lotter spoke about the availability and mobilisation of necessary resources, and said that resource requirements should be included and activities should be prioritised. It was considered impossible to undertake all the proposed actions in the five-year period without a reprioritisation of resources, and business recognised the need for a more appropriate funding model for the sector.
She highlighted the inadequate maintenance and operation of infrastructure, and said there was a long-standing recognition of its contribution to water loss. Possible joint initiatives with the private sector should be investigated along the lines of demand response interventions in electricity, as a lack of maintenance, particularly at municipal level, was impacting negatively on the security of supply. She questioned if compensation should be available for the loss of production as a result.
In terms of the lack of clarity in functional responsibility in some areas, the strategy referred to numerous institutional arrangements. A sound business case should be developed for the establishment of institutions, functional responsibility needed to be clearly defined, particularly between DWA and new institutions, and the Water Tribunal needed to be reviewed to ensure functionality.
Looking at private sector participation, the reference to partnership with the private sector was welcomed and practical action should be included to achieve it.
Ms Lotter highlighted monitoring and evaluation, noting the reference to information management was welcomed and a clear plan to implement a management information system that allowed all monitoring information to be stored and used, was considered a top priority. The implementation of any action in the strategy needed to be monitored and evaluated and progress with the implementation of the strategy should be included in the annual report of the Department.
The conclusions were that the draft required better organisation and should have clear quantitative indicators of performance, with action plans. The priorities from a business perspective were for universal access to water and sanitation, the use of water to support job creation, regulatory reform and the establishment of CMAs.
Submission 3: Chemical and Allied Industries Association
Ms Lotter said the focus of the presentation was that CAIA supported the BUSA submission, water conservation, economic charge and regulatory reform.
Looking at water conservation, the joint project with DWA on the development of water use audit protocols could be used as a basis for the determination of a long-term water use efficiency target in terms of chemical, iron and steel, agro processing, paper and pulp and ferro alloys. She said there was no reference to initiatives in the draft.
She said the chemical industry had significantly addressed water efficiency, reducing its usage from 2,49kl per production ton in 2008, to 1,48kl per production ton last year.
Turning to the economic charge, there was no reference in the draft strategy to a Waste Discharge Charge Strategy (WDCS). A proposal was for a mitigation charge (user charge) and an incentive charge (tax), which would be complementary to other regulatory measures. The challenges involved the application to compliant and non compliant users, the investment by compliant users not being recognised, it applied only to point sources, a tax could not be imposed on municipalities and there were potentially double charges for municipal users. The chemical industry strived for high level of compliance, but most discharged to sewers. She said there was a possibility of offsetting.
Ms Lotter said in the area of regulatory reform, there were long delays in obtaining a licence, a lack of regional harmonisation in requirements, license conditions were ultimately unachievable, limits were based on unrealistic receiving water quality objectives, and there was a focus on private sector dischargers.
The conclusions were that the draft strategy was not aligned with other developing sector strategies. Water conservation should be aggressively pursued in partnership with industry, a Waste Discharge Charge System should be included, and should be subject to impact assessment before finalisation. Regulatory reform should be pursued using platforms for engagement with the private sector.
The Chairperson said the issue of incentives needed to be looked at more. He said it was useless talking about partnerships without actually taking action. He said BUSA should engage the Committee and Department on such suggestions.
Submission 4: The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa
Mr Patrick Dowling, Head of Education: WESSA, said the work of water officials at all levels of government displayed integrity, transparency, energy, commitment and expertise to implement the strategy.
Looking at water policy in a developmental state, he said it was important that good intentions carried through into technical strategies. People involved in decision making processes should share in the benefits and responsibilities. In terms of the NDP, there was widespread unemployment, ailing infrastructure, low standards of education, exclusion of the poor, a resource dependent economy, a failing public health system with a large disease burden, an inept public service provision, widespread corruption and societal divisions. For equitable growth and development, issues such as the combating of mining legacies, a finite amount of water, public credibility, cleaner technologies and rain water harvesting, needed to be looked into.
In order to achieve a green economy, investments were needed in both public and private sectors, to provide the mechanism for the reconfiguration of businesses, infrastructure and institutions, and for the adoption of sustainable consumption and production processes. Greater efficiency in the use of energy, water, and materials was a core objective. He said it was important to remember there was a finite amount of water.
In terms of justice and equitability, DWA needed alignment with other departments for job creation and livelihoods, as well as for infrastructure maintenance. Protecting the water ecosystems meant looking at climate change, acid mine drainage (AMD), fracking precautions, waste water treatment (WWT), dry sanitation technologies research, and water and ecosystem services.
Mr Dowling said climate change needed to emphasised. The need for climate change action and overall resource management and protection was geared to accelerate the pace of green job creation and overall green investments in the years ahead.
He said water had a planetary boundary, with only 2 600 cubic kilometers in use per annum, while available global fresh water was 4000 cubic kilometers per annum. Government should be mindful of the impact of dams. Smarter governance was needed to ensure informed public participation in CMAs. Water responsibility education was needed in curriculums and the equitable share needed to be spent correctly and ring-fenced, so that funds were not spent on other matters.
Mr Dowling turned to CMAs, noting that the number reduction was regrettable and that they were further from ordinary people. He said the Department should ensure that the catchment forums had teeth and were accessible to civil society.
Water sector investment required publicly accessible budgets and realistic allocations to sorting out problems like AMD, not token amounts.
To increase water use efficiency, civil society participation was needed, with penalty tariffs at the high end. There needed to be support for urban and rural subsistence farming, training and leak fixing.
Mr Dowling said the private sector must be transparent, information for the public should be easily accessible and there should be a close observance of the UN CEO Water Mandate, which consisted of direct operations, supply chain and watershed management, collective action, public policy, community engagement and transparency.
The Chairperson said it was a useful presentation, in that it had flagged a number of issues in the water sector. He said the role of Catchment Management Forums (CMFs) needed to be emphasised in terms of the positive impacts they could have as local community forums for CMAs. He said he had a problem with the board of directors managing the CMAs being filled with stakeholders, as they could set a policy which was completely incongruent with the view of custodians.
Submission 5: SALGA
Mr Chris Neethling, of SALGA’s national executive committee, introduced the delegation.
Mr William Moroka began the presentation by noting that SALGA acknowledged the efforts and time that DWA, as the custodian of water in South Africa, had put towards the development of the draft strategy. He found it unfortunate the Department had not really interacted with local government in drafting the strategy, as this was a grave omission.
Addressing why local government had an interest in water resources management, he said local government was primarily related to the interface with water services provision – the source to tap principle. Properly managed water resources provided a source for local government water supply services, water resources such as rivers were widely used to dispose of the waste from local government sanitation services and local government had to be concerned about environmental protection, as well as about the importance of water resources and their management to support local economic development. He highlighted the fact that the NWA had outlined the purpose of the NWRS, in that it “required the progressive development, by the Minister, after consultation with society at large, of a national water resource strategy. The national water resource strategy provided the framework for the protection, use, development, conservation, management and control of water resources for the country as a whole. It provided the framework within which water will be managed at regional or catchment level, in defined water management areas. The national water resource strategy, which must be formally reviewed from time to time, was binding on all authorities and institutions exercising powers or performing duties under this Act.” The preface to the NWRS2 confirmed this framework and stated that “the NWRS was the legal instrument for implementing or operationalizing the NWA. It was crucial that the NWRS was recognized as the primary mechanism to manage water across all sectors towards achieving national government’s development objectives.”
Mr Moroka said the two emerging themes were mobilising water and its management as an instrument to promote equitable social and economic growth and development, and to promote smart water management approaches. However, the gap identified was that the NWRS2 lacked details, in particular on the institutional and financial approaches that would need to be taken to achieve the emerging themes. This was particularly the case in areas of interest to local government.
Initial comments had been made on the lack of information about water resources availability which, he noted, would have changed since 2004 due to the construction of new infrastructure, or about the potential to increase it, as any investment plans to do so would impact on municipalities, which needed information for water services and development planning. He indicated this issue had been discussed and resolved at the National Conference of SALGA in rigorous consultation with the Department. The absence of information on water use trends made it difficult to determine whether a “water crisis” may be emerging, where water demand exceeded supplies. A similar lack of information on water quality trends made it impossible to assess whether poorly managed municipal wastewater works were “a key contributor to the deterioration of water quality,” as the NWRS claimed. It was stated that the number of CMAs would be reduced from 19 to nine. Although this issue was officially still open for consultation, information in the NWRS2 was based on the assumption that there wouldl be only nine CMAs, each covering a much larger Water Management Area (WMA) and larger population than previously. This meant that individual municipalities would have a weaker voice in local water resource management. The definition of regional resources and regional bulk water services was necessary. He asked what this meant for municipalities that were providing bulk services to a number of Water Service Authorities. He added it was proposed to reduce the reliability of water supplies in order to achieve “equity” in access to water resources – defined as water for irrigating crops or water for a business or an industry. This could create major problems for local government at all levels. Another proposal was to promote “multiple-use systems” to supply both domestic and “productive” water. This could require local government to substantially increase the volume of water supplied through distribution networks without clarity about where the raw water would come from, nor how the expanded services would be paid for.
The NWRS2 stated that the existing 12 water boards would be consolidated into eight by 2016, but this process was still under discussion. Although water boards were not strictly a matter for the NWRS, as they were established under the Water Services Act, they were important institutions. It was stated that “the water boards will also play a strong role in supporting municipalities through their secondary activities by providing services on their behalf and/or providing services to municipalities in terms of contracts”. While the NWRS2 emphasised that water must be central to development planning, it gave little attention to local government’s Water Services Development Plans (WSDPs) and Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) which would be the key interface between the management of water resources and the provision of water services. The mechanisms that effectively ensured that water was central to integrated planning were not clear in the strategy. The strategy should elevate the water debate and importance in development planning to the level that environmentalists had achieved. It stated that “at local government level, failure to plan effectively to determine water resource requirements as well as to provide for effective wastewater treatment had serious implications for water management but the strategy made no concrete suggestions on addressing this challenge.
Mr Moroka said although institutional and financial issues were raised as key concerns, there was a lack of clarity around funding. He added that information was particularly important to make informed decisions. Climate change also needed more emphasis.
Mr Moroka said the suggested recommendations from SALGA were for adequate information about trends, in particular of water availability to, and use by, water services providers. The need to recognise and use the process of preparing the WSDPs as the opportunity for municipalities to engage with water resource issues could not be over emphasised. Proposals to reduce the reliability of water supplied, in order to make more water available for allocation to historically disadvantaged groups, was cause for concern - focus should rather be on compulsory licensing to reallocate water in an organised way, while maintaining reliability of supplies. The absence of clarity on financing issues needed to be clarified, as at present, operation and maintenance costs for water resource schemes were supposed to be covered by water use charges.
Without further clarification, simplification, prioritisation and sequencing, it was difficult to determine in which direction the NWRS2 would take DWA and the country.
Mr Skosana wanted input on water losses at local/municipal level. He also asked if municipalities had the capacity to collect revenue and sustain their plans in relation to the service delivery of water and if there were shortages in this area.
Dr Huang wanted to know about members of SALGA owing the water boards money. He questioned how they dealt with this matter. He also wanted suggestions on how these problems could be dealt with in the future.
The Chairperson was disappointed that SALGA had not raised the issues where there were problems, as he had found that municipalities were the cause of many problems in the system. The money that had been given to municipalities was not being used and they now owed the water boards billions. He asked why nothing was said about this.
Ms M Wenger (DA) asked if SALGA had a system to monitor how the equitable share was used in municipalities and if not, why not.
Mr Morgan said SALGA were not reflective enough on the contribution of their members on water governance, or lack thereof. Municipalities placed several of the water boards at risk and he wanted the view of SALGA on the high debt owed to these water boards. If municipalities paid their debts, there could possibly be more and better functioning water boards. The issue of skills was a general problem in the country, and he wanted to know what SALGA was doing to attract skilled people to run the water system. He sought their comment on the astronomical water losses at municipal level. He also said that many of the members of SALGA were responsible for extensive point-source pollution, as many of their members did not have waste water treatment plants. He referred to the effects on tariffs, and said he was angry that these issues had not been raised in the submission.
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked what SALGA was doing to assist municipalities who did not have plans to provide access to water, especially in the rural areas.
Ms B Ferguson (COPE) questioned why money given to SALGA was not ring-fenced specifically for water. She also wanted their comments on the problems related to water loss, lack of skills, inadequate governance, inadequate maintenance, inadequate administrative skills and discrepancies in billing.
Dr Huang wanted SALGA’s response on dry sanitation technology.
The Chairperson asked if there was a structure or committee in SALGA, as the mother body, to pull their members together to deal with water issues.
Mr Moroka said the majority of the issues raised by Members had been presented by SALGA at a conference and if they were interested, SALGA could share the information with the Committee, as well as a water services paper. He said he would take the concerns of the Members to SALGA. Looking at water losses, he said SALGA was working with service providers and there was a process in place for municipalities to prevent water losses. He noted there were also targets in place for WCWDM.
A SALGA official from the City of Johannesburg said WCWDM was a serious issue and there were specific strategies in place and budgets for this specific area. She added the Mayor was rigorous on the issue of water so there was commitment to meet the various targets.
Mr Neil McCloud, SALGA official from eThekwini/Durban, said the bigger issue was how to work together to achieve strategies, as municipalities could not do it on their own. He noted there were problems with borrowing money, sewerage works and a lack of skills which contributed to a gap that needed to be addressed. He said the situation was not as easy as it seemed, and skills shortages were the main reason for funding shares not being spent.
The Chairperson said the points raised by SALGA were correct, but he could not understand why they had not been shared with the Committee, as they had had the opportunity to do so. He said if these points were not addressed or discussed, they needed to be raised with the Committee and the Department.
Mr McCloud said regulation was another serious issue as was the cost factor, when looking at treatment works. He said he would welcome an independent and strong regulator to unpack the issue of costs.
Mr Moroka looked at the debt owed to water boards and noted there was a subcommittee to develop a plan of action to address this debt, looking at the entire value chain.
The Chairperson said it would much quicker for SALGA to sit down and establish, as a principle, that money be spent on water. He said that many others did not wish it to follow that route. He said it was a principle that SALGA needed to take in terms of leadership. He said the smaller municipalities were struggling, while the larger ones were functioning. He stressed the concept of leadership.
Mr Moroka said the points of the Chairperson were taken. He said the equitable share topic was difficult, as it was unconditional and he was unqualified to answer the question.
The Chairperson understood that, and said it was a political decision, but SALGA needed to take a leadership role. He would not fight for municipalities, in terms of budget, if this issue was not addressed.
Mr Neethling added that grants from DWA came late in the year and by the time they wanted to spend it the year was almost up so he would appreciate prior notice on this matter. He said the equitable
share, in his case, was ring-fenced. On the issue of pollution, he said many of the waste-water works were transferred in bad condition from DWA, and the funding for this was poor. He said skills and expertise, especially for waste-water, were seriously lacking but less so in the case of the metros.
Mr Moroka said SALGA did have a mechanism for all members to look at issues that directly affected municipalities. There was a technical team to advise municipalities, especially the smaller ones, on certain matters. There was also a process of bench-marking to assess municipalities.
The Chairperson strongly recommended to the DWA DG that the Department should hold a session with local government to find solutions to the problems raised in a coherent fashion. He said if the problems of local government were not sorted out, the problems of the Department would not be solved either, as their plans were dependent on this. He said it would also strengthen the NWRS2. He said the Department needed to hone in on special entities, like the NPC and SALGA.
The Committee would be having a meeting in January to look at all the cross-cutting water and environmental issues, and SALGA may be invited to come up with solutions. A flow of skills was needed in this area, and the process of bursaries with no conditions attached to them, needed to be reviewed, for the Department to gain skills.
The Chairperson said he was still waiting for a written reply from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in response to the snub the Committee received two weeks ago. He said the Committee may or may not look at the Bill this week, but it would definitely be looked at next week.
Mr Morgan requested an update on rhino poaching. He told the Committee he had recently learnt the South African Police Service (SAPS) had been taken out of the Kruger National Park, as well as the only helicopter, and there were no replacements. He said this had come as a complete shock and he felt the Committee needed to look into this as a matter of urgency.
The Chairperson said that he would get Ms McCourt, from DEA, to provide the Committee with a briefing.
Meeting was adjourned.
- CAIA submission
- BUSA submission
- National Planning Commission submission
- WESSA submission
- SALGA submission
- National Planning Commission submission
- National Planning Commission comments on National Water Resource Strategy
- Draft National Water Resource Strategy Chemical and Allied Industries Association (CAIA)
- Proposed National Water Resources Strategy 2 Summary Submission by Business Unity South Africa
- Draft National Water Resources Strategy BUSA Submission
- National Water Resource Strategy presentation
- Submission by Chemical and Allied Industries Association
- SALGA Initial Comments to Water and Environmental Affairs on the National Water Resource Strategy -2
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting