National Water Resources Strategy 2: public hearings Day 4

Water and Sanitation

30 October 2012
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Meeting Summary

The Committee and the Department of Water (DWA) met to hear public submissions on the National Water Resource Strategy Two (NWRS2) by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Water Research Commission (WRC), the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA), the Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG), the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) and the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG).

The submission by the CSIR looked at the challenges of the NWRS2, issues that had not been emphasised, efficient water use and their key recommendations. There should be more effective dispute resolutions, effective oversight in terms of clear reporting lines, and institutional arrangements needed to be reviewed. There should be more effective public-private partnerships, with emphasis placed on the work of the sector. The CSIR was widely concerned about research work in terms of water issues.

The WRC dealt with the research knowledge generated by the Commission, reflected on the 2012 NWRS process and commented on the state of water research and development. There was a notion of a water crisis in South Africa. Other countries with similar or less water per capita than South Africa kept the crisis away through high levels of science, technology and innovation, good infrastructure, high levels of dedicated skill throughout the water system, and water use behaviours.

The NWRS2 had to be supported by a robust research and development initiative. There was a need for a water research and development framework which had to be developed with multi-stakeholder consultation through a co-ordinated roll-out. This could be co-ordinated, on behalf of the Minister and DWA, by the WRC as a dedicated water research institution.
The submission by the TCTA covered the project operations model, strategies and actions of the NWRS2 in relation to the TCTA, and the prioritisation of water use. The submission also looked at the NWRS2 completeness as a strategy, the organisation and presentation of the NWRS2 and constructive engagement with DWA moving forward. Priority action areas, requiring heightened and direct business attention and engagement by TCTA, were in the urgent finalisation of the water infrastructure investment framework, to be reviewed every five years, the development of innovative water financing models by 2013, the review of the raw water pricing strategy by 2013 and the establishment of the government component for the National Water Resources Infrastructure.

Increased emphasis was rightly being placed on the allocation of water resources to promote equitable access for improving rural livelihoods and alleviating poverty, but this had progressed slowly. Water infrastructure development should allow for multiple uses, including household, small-hold agriculture and strategic use, in accordance with policy. Prioritizing allocation needed to
take cognizance of the varying dynamics of water resource availability across Wastewater Management Authorities (WMAs), and the hard trade-offs to be confronted by users as a collective. It was unfortunate that the NWRS2 seemed to succumb to a rather complex strategic framework.The document described 11 ‘core strategies’, two ‘detailed core strategies’, seven ‘technical strategies’, four ‘enabling strategies’ and four ‘governance strategies’, aside from ‘spatial perspectives’. By any standards of strategy-making, the approach adopted appeared to make reading difficult. Also, the potential for overlapping implementation tasks among 28 discrete strategies was vast, and would probably serve as an inhibitor to monitoring.  The presentation of the NWRS2 suffered from what could be described as the challenge of weaving contributions from various authors, or coordinating updated versions.
The EMG looked at ideas for pro–poor technical strategies in the NWRS2, and said there needed to be a people-centred Water Conservation and Water Demand Management (WC/WDM) strategy at a municipal level. Productive water for small-scale farming, citizen-based monitoring and support for Catchment Management Forums (CMFs) was needed.   The emphasis on cost recovery at a municipal level meant that water demand management and debt management were conflated, and as a result, WC/WDM had become a punitive water restriction for poor households. In this way, the right to water was undermined. A people-centred WC/WDM strategy should rather involve training of artisan plumbers for leak fixing (and job creation), targeting of hedonistic and wasteful water use, citizen monitoring of water services, fairer tariff structures, and stronger regulation of municipal water services with a view to protecting the right to quality water.
The submission by SAFCEI looked at the principle and moral decisions behind the NWRS2, highlighting the importance of water as a precious resource and the need for joint initiatives in government to work together on the issue of water.

Mesh Concepts discussed what fog harvesting was, compared to other water sources, where the technology was being applied, and the potential for fog harvesting in SA.   Fog harvesting was weather dependent, environmentally neutral, quick to install and was a complementary system that would provide clean, potable water. A triangulated system of nine nets could produce up to 2 000 litres a day on average. Infrastructure costs for storage and piping could be expensive in remote areas, but they were primarily gravity fed. Cost benefit studies favoured dams and desalination because of the huge volumes of water involved, but dams and desalination were not always viable in remote areas and the costs of environmental damage and rehabilitation were largely ignored in desalination cost studies.
The Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) made comments on shale gas mining (SGM) technology currently proposed for licensing in SA. There were three primary considerations in connection with water and SGM. These were: where would water for the very thirsty process be sourced, how did applicants guarantee to drill through underground water sources without damage and pollution, and where and how would toxic waste be disposed of.   TKAG’s review of the NWRS had not revealed an acknowledgement of what it viewed as a very significant threat to the water supplies of SA, and respectfully placed on record that it believed that SGM required a very detailed study and response, especially in terms of the vast scope and scale of the applications, and new Technical Cooperation Permits registered with the Petrol Agency of South Africa (PASA). As an organisation that now represented 80 000 persons directly, and indirectly many more, it was incumbent on the body to bring this to the Committee’s attention. It did not feel that the NWRS 2012 addressed SGM as a huge potential threat to SA’s water supplies.
The Chairperson said the Committee would ensure the Department went ahead with the process in the right way. The questions posed in TKAG’s submission needed to be answered, to make informed decisions. He assured them the integrated licensing issue was being looked into. If the fracking issue went any further, the Committee would deal with water and environmental issues through public participation and with the usual integrity.

Meeting report

The Chairperson noted the Committee would not be sitting on Friday, but would meet again next week on Tuesday and were instead hearing more submissions today (Wednesday). At the Tuesday meeting, they would hear the remaining submissions, the Algiers Treaty, the Bill and the first submission, and would be briefed an update on the progress of the National Environmental Management Amendment (NEMA) Laws Bill. On Wednesday, the Committee would look at outstanding minutes, discuss the public hearings and deal with issues left over from Tuesday. He noted the Committee would have a very full next three weeks. In two weeks’ time, the Committee would receive a briefing on COP18 and rhino poaching. Members would receive an updated programme.

Submission 1: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Dr Harrison Pienaar, water governance specialist from the CSIR, gave a brief introduction and said the CSIR felt the National Water Resource Strategy Two (NWRS2) was a good strategy by the Department to manage water more efficiently and as an important framework to deal with many challenges. He said it was an important document to enhance economic and social development.

What the draft NWRS2 did not emphasise, was a legal remedy as stipulated in the National Water Act (NWA). He also noted some challenges with implementation that could occur from the NWRS2.

Dr Pienaar highlighted the importance of an institutional value-chain and mentioned the importance of managing water and catchment management areas (CMAs) at different levels. Water had to be used efficiently and the Department needed to come up with smarter ways of managing this resource. This also applied to issues of implementation.

The recommendations of the CSIR were for there to be more effective dispute resolutions, effective oversight in terms of clear reporting lines, and for institutional arrangements to be reviewed. There should be more effective public-private partnerships, and the work of the sector needed to be emphasised. The CSIR was widely concerned about research work in terms of water issues. Although the CSIR had interacted with the Department in drafting the NWRS2, it was important for their recommendations to be considered by the Committee

Discussion
The Chairperson said it was an interesting presentation in that it looked at broad frameworks and principles. What was needed at the end of the day, however, was to decide on whether the document worked or not. He liked the discussion on decentralisation, but cautioned that the lower one went, the more one saw the effects of apartheid, and it was important not to entrench those effects. The Department should hold a special meeting with the CSIR, as they were a source of general knowledge that could be tapped into.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) felt the input was relevant, but wanted elaboration on certain points of the presentation. He also asked the opinion of the CSIR on what the Department could best do to reduce the amount of water used by the agricultural sector.

The Chairperson asked why the Committee had not received the document titled “The Implementation of a Water Resource Stratification System.”

Ms Thoko Sigwaza, DWA Chief Director for Institutional Oversight, said she would get this document to the Committee, and apologised.

Dr S Huang (ANC) asked about the water value chain and if the CSIR had a database of local governments. He also questioned the relationship and interaction of the CSIR with the Department, specifically on the NWRS2.

Dr Pienaar said that the figures quoted in the agricultural sector were based on allocations, and the CSIR had advised the Department to look into water use efficiency and the water use footprint within the agricultural sector. There was room for improvement in water use efficiency. The CSIR would share research done in this area with the Department.

An official from the CSIR said they had conducted research on the best crops to grow under different conditions. The results could be shown and shared.

Dr Pienaar said the CSIR was attempting to work in a structured manner with the Department, and especially with the Water Research Commission (WRC), for information sharing.

The official from the CSIR said they were in the process of signing a special Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department to work closely together strategically, as they had done with the Department of Environment.

Mr Cornelius Reinters, CSIR: Executive Director, said the CSIR were looking at the waste water infrastructure in municipalities to improve and address their poor state through a series of pilot projects. Their own research funding had gone into the project, and there was interest in the research.

Dr Marius Claasen, water governance specialist from the CSIR, said they were working with WRC to look at land reform, together with water reform, which was currently not sufficiently addressed together in terms of policy or implementation. It was not easy simply to say that water should be diverted from the agricultural sector, bearing in mind the importance of food security. On local government, he said governance and the impact on society needed to be considered at both provincial and national level.

The Chairperson asked if, according to the presentation of the CSIR, water services were not looked at in the NWRS.

Dr Pienaar said what was meant was that there had to be cross-reference with other strategy documents.

The Chairperson wanted certain documents and copies for each Member by the end of the day from the Department. He was not that concerned about the details, but wanted to hear what the major parts of the documents, for instance, issues on sanitation. He wanted the Department to go through the strategy with the CSIR to look at the issues raised, and to work closely with the experts.

Submission 2: Water Research Commission
Mr Desigan Naidoo, WRC: CEO, highlighted the research knowledge generated by the WRC and commented on the process of the NWRS2, noting the revitalisation of the national water dialogue last experienced with the National Water Act (NWA) in the late 1990s. There had been 20 years of consistent growth, a huge extension of basic servicing and a colossal change in consumption patterns, but some of the ills of 200 years of imprudent mining practices had come home to roost. The strain of this on water resources and water ecosystems was immense.

Looking at the reflections of the 2012 NWRS process, there was a notion of a water crisis in South Africa. Other countries with similar or less water than South Africa per capita kept the crisis away through high levels of science, technology and innovation, good infrastructure, high levels of dedicated skill throughout the water system, and water use behaviours.

Mr Naidoo said the NWRS2 must be supported by a robust research and development initiative. There was a need for a water research and development framework which had to be developed with multi-stakeholder consultation through a co-ordinated roll-out. This could be co-ordinated, on behalf of the Minister and DWA, by the WRC as a dedicated water research institution.

The Chairperson liked the idea, but wanted elaboration on the idea of a framework. He asked why there was not a permanent think-tank on these issues, feeding information to the Department.

Mr Naidoo said the framework would be all of these things, and would provide a way through which people and organisations could stay in touch.

He provided a brief glimpse at the state of water research and development (R and D) in SA and the rest of the world. There was an enormous increase in knowledge on how to deal with water and China was leading this pack, according to a report. South Africa’s research publications were quite good, with an upward trend.

Looking at the relative impact of SA water research publications from 1981 to 2010, Mr Naidoo noted there had been high impact in the 1980s. Although SA did not produce many papers, given the small R and D community, the impact was actually quite high.

Mr Naidoo looked at the failures of the R and D agenda and said the WRC was seeking innovative solutions with potential multiplier effects. There was a need for a trans-disciplinary approach, particularly bringing the social and other sciences together and seeking niches for global leadership.

Further comments were that polluted waters could be used as a resource. He highlighted the importance of freshwater ecosystems, dealing with the water-energy-food nexus, water and gender, and the opportunity presented by the International Freshwater Governance Conference, South Africa, November 2012.

The Chairperson fully supported the fact that polluted waters could be used as a resource. He noted the Department had said this about Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) but had not done anything about it. There were cultural issues attached to certain ideas. He would have loved to take the Committee to attend the Conference, but suggested the CSIR and WRC put together a report and brief the Committee on interesting developments coming out of the Conference, sometime next year.

Discussion
The Chairperson wanted comments from the Department on the idea of a framework, as suggested by the WRC. It was important that the DWA become part of the institutionalisation, and should have meetings with specific groups to go through certain issues thoroughly.

Mr G Morgan (DA) said he accepted listing journal articles, as it placed SA in the context of the world in relation to other countries, but the real problem was establishing the purpose of these research articles, and how they informed government, regulators and implementers. Water users paid for this research through a levy and the WRC, therefore, needed to be held to account. They needed indicators to show what other value they had, apart from advancing the careers of certain academics along the way. The WRC constantly needed to justify what they did, and he was a little disappointed that they did not do this. The WRC needed to show the Committee how their work was influential in the sector.

The Chairperson highlighted the SA Law Reform Commission, who got their work from the Department of Justice. The issues of the Water Tribunal had been flagged for some time, and no research had been done on it. The work of the WRC needed to be directed a bit more. The problem started in the Department, as there was a complete mismatch. The way things got dealt with and recorded did not reflect the research produced.

Dr Huang asked how the empowerment of women in communities could occur from the side of the WRC. He also questioned the implementation of the NWRS2, and sought their comments on the dry sanitation system.

Mr Naidoo said one needed to learn how to do better and said the “knowledge tree” was the crux of the strategy. Knowledge needed active mechanisms to diffuse into the system. The value for money in the WRC could be seen in reports made available to the public electronically. These showed the research and case studies of the WRC which had a direct impact on implementation of the national water plan, but even this was only a sample. Things could be better, especially in empowering communities and looking at transformation and redress, and agreed that knowledge had to be made accessible, as the WRC was a public institution.

Dry sanitation offered a good water solution but was fraught with a range of other problems such as the social factors, which they had failed to research properly. He mentioned a conference which could aid in dealing with this matter further. Women were most disadvantaged by a lack of water access. Women needed to be empowered to manage agricultural production linked to water better. The WRC would be presenting models being developed to address these issues.

The Chairperson noted they would be meeting in January to discuss what the performance indicators should be.

Submission 3: Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority 
Prof Ola Busari, Executive: Knowledge Management, Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA), said the purpose of the presentation was to
make a submission on the guidance provided in the draft of the NWRS2, in respect of the TCTA’s mandate and work, to provide comments and suggestions for improving the content and organisation of the NWRS2 in general, and to present a balanced and constructive review of the draft document.

Prof Busari looked at the NWRS2 strategies and actions in relation to the TCTA.   The key strategies of the TCTA needed to give effect to confirming the continuing role and relevance of the TCTA in four main areas - infrastructure investment, funding practice and revenue, institutional interface with a new government component and international water cooperation.  Priority action areas, requiring heightened and direct business attention and engagement by TCTA, were in the urgent finalisation of the water infrastructure investment framework, to be reviewed every five years, the development of innovative water financing models by 2013, the review of the Raw Water Pricing Strategy by 2013 and the establishment of the government component for the National Water Resources Infrastructure. 

The NWRS2 gave good attention to infrastructure development and funding – under ‘technical strategies’ for infrastructure and ‘enabling strategies’ for water finance – but
in terms of TCTA operations, it was important to map out in a simple table what specific water resource infrastructure developments were planned, where and for what uses. Sector partners would also want to see the financial implications of the planned actions, as well as the envisaged funding mechanisms and institutional responsibilities.

Prof Busari said that
increased emphasis was rightly being placed on the allocation of water resources to promote equitable access for improving rural livelihoods and alleviating poverty, but this had progressed slowly. As already demonstrated, water infrastructure development should allow for multiple uses, including household, small-hold agriculture and strategic use, in accordance with policy. Prioritizing allocation needed to take cognizance of the varying dynamics of water resource availability across Wastewater Management Authorities (WMAs), and the hard trade-offs to be confronted by users as a collective.

Assessing the completeness of the NWRS2 as a strategy, he said
it made sense that NWRS2 addressed key points of progress through the implementation of NWRS1, while also pinpointing some of the shortcomings. The articulation of the interface between the NWRS2 and both the overarching national development strategies and other sector strategies, was a useful inclusion. There was also a great effort to innovate in NWRS2, bringing in a more ‘strategy-making’ approach, leading to a documentation of strategies in different dimensions. It was unfortunate that the NWR2 seemed to succumb to a rather complex strategic framework.The document described 11 ‘core strategies’, two ‘detailed core strategies’, seven ‘technical strategies’, four ‘enabling strategies’ and four ‘governance strategies’, aside from ‘spatial perspectives’. By any standards of strategy-making, the approach adopted appeared to make reading difficult. Also, the potential for overlapping implementation tasks among 28 discrete strategies was vast, and would probably serve as an inhibitor to monitoring.  The articulation of strategies should be kept as simple as possible, using established (or amended) strategic themes, especially in synchronisation with Sections 5/6 of the NWA. Following a macro-situation analysis, it might be considered appropriate to have strategies at a maximum of three levels The spatial perspectives would benefit from further processing of WMA information, including water resource availability and requirements.This simplicity and rationalisation should also help minimize large repetitions of entire paragraphs, as was seen in the management challenges and water resource information.

Prof Busari said the presentation of the NWRS2 suffered from what could be described as the challenge of weaving contributions from various authors, or coordinating updated versions. The evidence of this could be seen in the first seven chapters, which did not match the contents of those chapters.
Many of the key strategic actions were commendably specific and time-bound, but the list of 79 appeared unending, calling for a more logical clustering.  Long after the key actions were listed, each new strategy was freshly detailed with key issues, vision, operational objectives and (again) strategic actions. 

Looking forward toward constructive engagement with DWA, Prof Busari noted the TCTA
viewed the draft NWRS2 as an agency of the DWA. TCTA would undertake direct engagement and input and looked forward to making further contributions for the improvement of NWRS2.

Discussion
Mr Skosana wanted elaboration on the funding model to be made by the TCTA to the Department.

Dr Huang asked for the thoughts on the TCTA and DWA not being separate organisations. He wanted to know how TCTA contributed to the NWRS2. He asked how DWA and research institutions used, or could use, the Census 2011.

The Chairperson said there had been no debate or possible models put forward for a structure to drive water resource infrastructure in order to negate the fragmentation that existed. He questioned the optimum model and was surprised that the actors involved where not presenting models so a discussion could ensue. Much of what was being done were ‘band-aid’ measures. TCTA should be leading such a debate, as they were able to get consultants on the matter. The problem was that everyone agreed a discussion was needed, but no models were being put forward. This was the weakness of the document.

Prof Busari said the comments of the Chairperson would be taken into account, and said TCTA would show more leadership. The TCTA was reluctant to in lead certain debates and was trying not to push an agenda.

The Chairperson urged them to push an agenda and take leadership. 

Prof Busari said the TCTA would contribute through an infrastructure framework and innovative models. They would look at system-wide tariffs. Looking at the alignment of institutions, he said the TCTA would show more leadership.

The Chairperson noted Cosatu was available, but he had not yet received a submission from them so he was not sure what they wanted to say. He would circulate the submission when he received it.

Submission 4: Environmental Monitoring Group
Ms Taryn Pereira, researcher at Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG), introduced the EMG as
an independent non-profit organisation established in 1991. It played an active role in water-related civil society, with a particular interest in the relationship between water and climate change, from an environmental and social justice perspective. It was a member of the South African Water Caucus (SAWC), who had met on 16 and 17 August to discuss the NWRS2.

Ms Pereira referred to the issue of water scarcity, and noted that
climate change was real, and was going to exacerbate the existing scarcity. At present, water was most scarce for those who could not afford to pay for it. It was crucial that water for people’s health, livelihoods and dignity were prioritised over other human activities, so that poor people did not carry the burden of climate change. 

Looking at ideas for pro–poor technical strategies in the NWRS2, she said there needed to be a people-centred Water Conservation and Water Demand Management (WC/WDM) strategy at the municipal level. Productive water for small-scale farming, citizen-based monitoring and support for Catchment Management Forums (CMFs) was needed.   The emphasis on cost recovery at a municipal level meant that water demand management and debt management were conflated, and as a result, WC/WDM became a punitive water restriction for poor households. In this way, the right to water was undermined. A people-centred WC/WDM strategy should rather involve training of artisan plumbers for leak fixing (and job creation), targeting of hedonistic and wasteful water use, citizen monitoring of water services, fairer tariff structures, and stronger regulation of municipal water services with a view to protecting the right to quality water. She highlighted the example of the southern Cape drought, where capping water consumption for everyone had had the effect of reducing overall water demand and of making access more equitable.

Ms Pereira said it was important to be aware of false solutions to climate change and factors affecting water scarcity, like
fracking. She said important questions to ask werewhere would the water for fracking come from? How would this water be cleaned? The NWRS2 should clarify whether SA could afford to even think about fracking, and DWA should play a leading role in raising these concerns and protecting our water, even against powerful mining interests. Desalination it was hugely energy intensive, very expensive and all four of the salt-water desalination plants built during the southern Cape drought of 2009/10 were now mothballed. With water trading and offsets,market-based solutions worked for the wealthy and powerful. What was needed were strong regulations and a paradigm shift, for instance, towards the right of nature.

The Chairperson wanted research or more information on this matter. He was not in support of market-based solutions. Some of the concerns of the participatory process for the NWRS2 were that there was
no translation into other languages, or even into ‘layman’s English’. There was very opaque information regarding meeting dates and processes, a short time frame for comments, while no funding for civil society engagement limited the chances for meaningful engagement.

Discussion
The Chairperson said the issue around participation needed to be responded to by the Department, especially in terms of the catchment management forums (CMFs) for meaningful participation. He wanted this to be addressed fully. A set of binding regulations of the operation and support needed to be given to these CMFs.   It was non-negotiable that the NWRS2 should be made easier to read, smaller and be translated into the different languages. This should be noted in the recommendations.

Mr Skosana said the problem with participation was that the Department thought of provincial levels when they should instead be looking at the municipal or lower levels.

Dr Huang was concerned about the poor communication with the public, and wanted the Department’s view on how this could be improved.

The Chairperson asked if the EMG/SAWC had a database of areas that did not have access to safe drinking water, so that it could be compared to information the Department had. If action were to be taken, there needed to be specific information. He wanted elaboration on the suggestion of an artisan group, and how best to institutionalise such a task team.

Ms Pereira said they had information of people struggling with access to water, and would forward it. The leak-fixing project needed to be embedded in the municipality, but household leaks were not the responsibility of the municipality. She said municipal buy-in was needed and noted the huge resistance to such a project by many, although there were many benefits. 

The Chairperson said a database was needed on the areas with no infrastructure, as had been highlighted during the Department’s briefing on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in order for the Committee to do oversight in these areas. A clear picture of where these problems resided made it easier for the Committee to engage with the provinces or municipalities.

Submission 5: South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute 
Liz McDaid said the organisation was an institution of all faith bodies. It was less concerned with technical details but more so with the principles behind the NWRS2. SAFCEI appreciated the work that gone into the NWRS2, but noted the lack of meaningful public consultation.   SAFCEI would appreciate an over-arching body to find ways of working together.

She said it was important not to lose sight of the fact that water was precious, a gift, a finite resource and could not been manufactured or created. She said the picture was grim, and noted the impact of acid mine drainage (AMD), pollution and destruction. She also pointed out the irony of bottled water being provided at this hearing.

She emphasised the lack of thinking at a macro-level between departments noting that there was no place where water, energy and agriculture were being looked at jointly, and SAFCEI suggested this be considered. She expressed her concerns around fracking and the impact of this on water, climate change policies and roads. She emphasised the question of where the water for fracking would come from. It was better that gas was fracked off the coast, where seawater could be used. She pleaded for an overarching model, for liaison between energy and agriculture, and for principles and moral issues to be looked at, not always technical matters.

Discussion
The Chairperson noted the importance of equity, but highlighted the challenges of having equity on paper and actually carrying it out in skewed communities. It was easier to pull departments together at an executive level than at a parliamentary level. It would be difficult to look at programmes for cross-cutting issues. This had been done on the issue of climate policy. Mechanisms were being looked at, but many challenges were involved. Public participation was taken up by the organisations that were resourced. A challenge was that the document was hugely technical. There was no model for meaningful participation with policy issues, which was even more difficult in SA, but the Department needed to look at working institutional models for public participation. The CMFs needed to be concentrated on, and faith community were important in this regard.

Submission 6: Mesh Concepts
Mr Duncan Evans, from Mesh Concepts, said Mesh Concepts were a private enterprise who had developed stainless steel and yarn material, and had developed a patented triangular system. The patent application had been developed in January 2010 and they had set up a mesh knitting plant in SA. Two systems were manufactured and installed in Transkei, while other small systems were found at Lamberts Bay and Doringbaai.

Mr Evans looked at what fog harvesting was, noting that fog was a familiar occurrence. The moisture content of fog differed, depending on the location. Water droplets were collected on a net system and on a good day as much as 18 litres per m2 of netting could be collected. The Cape Colombine had 80 fog days per year. The nets also caught and stored rainfall. It was a natural resource that needed to be made use of. He briefly explained the triangular system.

Looking at a comparison with other water sources, fog harvesting was weather dependent, environmentally neutral, quick to install and was a complementary system that would provide clean, potable water. A triangulated system of nine nets could produce up to 2 000 litres a day on average. Infrastructure costs for storage and piping could be expensive in remote areas, but they were primarily gravity fed. Cost benefit studies favoured dams and desalination because of the huge volumes of water involved, but dams and desalination were not always viable in remote areas and the costs of environmental damage and rehabilitation were largely ignored in desalination cost studies. 

South Africa had a number of test sites where this technology was being applied and one operational system in the Transkei.

Mr Evans discussed the potential for fog harvesting in SA, and said the potential was largely undetermined. Its potential had been investigated by the WRC. An experimental system had been tendered in Mpumalanga, but had not been awarded. A fog map had been published identifying possible sites. The criteria for the selection of a fog harvesting site depended on the frequency and duration of fog events, moisture content of fog, altitude and wind speed and direction, topography and the efficiency of the collection system.

He concluded by looking at the way forward. To deal with vested interests, there needed to be an engagement with the WRC, University of Pretoria, DWA and individuals, a review and monitoring of the current research and expenditure, recognition of the research that had been done to date and accepting technology in its context of being a complementary source of water. This technology worked and overseas communities were living off them. There also needed to be recognition of patent rights, implementing working systems, monitoring and documenting all sites, a review of the findings to improve technology and placing criteria, and the setting up of a carbon (green) credit programme to attract private sector finance. Water and job creation were also emphasised.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked what the relation or link to the NWRS2 was, and what should be considered.

Mr Evans said the concept of fog harvesting should be accepted as a strategy for water, especially for rural communities.

The Chairperson said the Committee could suggest strategies, but it was not their place, or would be wrong, to endorse technologies or products.

Mr Morgan agreed that products could not be endorsed by the Committee, but did not see anything wrong in broadly speaking about technology in solving water problems. He found it to be a workable solution and was struggling to see the downside to fog harvesting. He did not understand why it was not taken up, used and developed by government.

Mr Skosana said it was important to use new technologies to move things forward. He urged the group to participate in the necessary forums to make the technology known.

Mr Evans said they had approached a host of institutions to get the information across and noted they had been engaging with the Department over a number of years on a certain project. They were struggling to move forward. Research funding was received from the WRC, but not much had moved forward. There were problems with funding and controversy over the system.

The Chairperson wanted the view of the Department on fog harvesting in terms of policy.

Submission 7: Treasure Karoo Action Group
Mr Jonathan Deal, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) Chairman, made comments on shale gas mining (SGM) technology currently proposed for licensing in SA. There were three primary considerations in connection with water and SGM. These were: where would water for the very thirsty process be sourced, how did applicants guarantee to drill through underground water sources without damage and pollution, and where and how would toxic waste be disposed of.

Mr Deal said these questions raised a myriad of other questions which needed to be addressed in a very cautious and scientific manner before any form of water licences were issues for SGM. He asked if the Department would insist on baseline testing of underground and surface water in a significant radius area (at least 100km) around any exploration or production of SGM. He also asked if the Department would consult with the affected landowners and local communities, in at least a 100km radius even for exploration, who could be affected by a polluting incident of the underground water system, before issuing any water permits to applicants for SGM.

He concluded by noting that TKAG’s review of the NWRS had not revealed an acknowledgement of what it viewed as a very significant threat to the water supplies of SA, and respectfully placed on record that it believed that SGM, more especially in terms of the vast scope and scale of the applications, and new Technical Cooperation Permits registered with PASA, required a very detailed study and response. An as organisation that now represented 80 000 persons directly, and indirectly many more, it was incumbent on the body to bring this to the Committee’s attention. It did not feel that the NWRS 2012 addressed SGM as a huge potential threat to SA’s water supplies.

Ms Amanda Fitz-White, from Treasure the Karoo Action Group, was concerned about the decline in the number of CMAs not reaching key, water poor communities, in terms of the NWRS2, and was worried about reserve determination in the issuing of water, waste and mining licences. Government officials had said such legislation was in the pipeline.

The Chairperson said such pressure, from one department to another, should be sworn in affidavit for the Committee to act on it. He said it was difficult to act on rumours.

Ms Fitz-White said the NWRS1 was aligned with environmental issues, while the NWRS2 was more economically based, to the detriment of ecological issues about which she was concerned.

Discussion
Mr Morgan said no legislation could be passed without coming through Parliament, and noted they had the ability to change legislation that came from the Executive. The Committee had a proud record of trying to improve coordination around integrated permitting. He wanted TKAG’s specific views on Section 38 of the NWA (controlled activities) with respect to fracking, noting the Committee would be amending the NWA. He had found their studies on ground water studies were appropriate and supported them. He entirely agreed with their view on the consultation process with water use licences. The problem was that consulting for a water licence was entirely different to consulting for a mining licence. The Department should at some point brief the Committee on whether licences would be attached to entire exploration areas, or attached to drill sites. He thought there was a different approach taken, in that TKAG looked at how best to regulate fracking instead of vehemently being against it. He asked where they stood on the issue for his own understanding.

Dr Huang wanted comments on new concepts on water resource and water licences.

Mr Deal said they would take up the invitation to comment on Section 38 and would present a detailed submission to the Committee. He said TKAG was opposed to fracking for reasons not related to the Committee, so their presentation had focused on what would be relevant to Water Affairs and what would happen if it went that way. For the record, TKAG was opposed to the introduction of fracking technology but if it did come into effect, they would choose to be involved as a monitoring group than not be involved at all.

The Chairperson said the Committee would ensure the Department went ahead with the process in the right way. The questions posed in TKAG’s submission needed to be answered to make informed decisions. He assured them the integrated licensing issue was being looked into. If the fracking issue went any further, the Committee would deal with water and environmental issues through public participation and with the usual integrity.

He noted the last four submissions would be heard on Tuesday and hopefully the Bill would get passed as well. The Committee would also receive a briefing on the African Treaty, if there was time, be briefed on the progress of NEMA and adopted outstanding reports. The discussion on the public hearings would begin with the Department on Wednesday. A summary should be ready for all Members on big policy issues. There should be a sufficient delegation from DWA to deal with these issues.

The meeting was adjourned.

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