Water Affairs Strategic Plan 2013 continued: Water Allocation Reform; Water Use Licence Application progress; Legislation Review; Water Research Commission; Blue and Green Drop progress

Water and Sanitation

22 April 2013
Chairperson: Mr J de Lange (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Water Affairs was applying a new policy in water allocations. Where all resources were already allocated, compulsory licensing would be applied. This was already being applied in three districts. In other areas, all the allocations would be withdrawn and re-allocated on a basis that was fair to all users. Members bemoaned the slow pace of reform in this sector so deep into democracy. There was still unequal access to water. The Department was instructed to complete the process by the end of the term of the current government, and to make regular updates to the Committee.

Members were briefed on the situation with water user licence applications. More were being approved than declined. However, there was a backlog. A team was in place to address the backlog, and the Department had applied to create a specialist unit. Members felt that the backlog was not being addressed aggressively enough. While the presentation did contain some useful information, it was felt the team currently dealing with licensing applications was not performing satisfactorily. Members wanted a breakdown distinguishing between the number of applications being delayed due to the applicant's errors or due to the Department's inefficiency. While good work was being done at the Department, Members felt that there was a lack of leadership.

Amendments to two Acts would be brought before Parliament. Members urged the Department to expedite the process given the proximity of the next election. The Water Tribunal had completed its term of office. Matters before the tribunal were being postponed or negotiated between the parties. There had been a challenge over the legality of decisions made under the interim chairperson.

Members were told that the current board of the Water Research Commission had been in office since 2012. Revenue came from water users, but the Commission asked that an allocation from Treasury should be considered. Water losses were still high. The Commission was well respected as a research institution. Some of their projects were dealing with the impact of new generation HIV treatment, as highly concentrated substances were being released into water systems, energy saving, sanitation and shale gas harvesting. Research was being made available to the public. Members asked for more details on job creation and how universities and their students were involved with the work done by the Commission.

Members were informed that the quality of both drinking water and sewerage was improving. The Blue Drop awards recognised excellence in the supply of drinking water, and the Green Drop for excellence in sewerage systems. Extensive testing had been conducted, and excellent results had been achieved in most parts of the country. A guide had been developed for the Department's website, indicating the quality of drinking water in every region. Members agreed that the water quality in urban areas was good, but were still hesitant to open a tap in some of the rural areas.
 

Meeting report

The Chairperson determined the order in which the presentations would be taken. Due to changes in the Parliamentary programme, the Committee would have to change its schedule. Overberg Water had submitted a revised report as instructed.

Mr Helgard Muller, Acting Deputy Director-General (DDG): Policy and Regulation, Department of Water Affairs (DWA) apologised for the absence of certain officials who were attending a meeting with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA).

Water Allocation Reform
Mr Muller said that a policy paper had pre-empted the Water Act of 1998. Policy objectives were equity in access to water resources and services. This was both for domestic and industrial use. The presentation would focus on current legislation, but the Minister had announced a policy review. There might be changes. Where water was still available, a licensing procedure was in place. There were catchments where all the water was already allocated, and licensing was compulsory in these cases.

The Chairperson said that an audit was needed before anything else. Farmers were allowed to sell water. He asked if DWA knew who these people were as they should be licensed. He asked if there would be a phased approach.

Mr Muller said that this was a major issue. The issue of existing lawful use had to be addressed. This would be a cumbersome and expensive process. DWA was nowhere close to this yet. It was a piecemeal process at present. Compulsory licensing had started at Tosca in the Northern Cape, an underground resource. Another was Jan Dissel in the Western Cape and Mhlathuze in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

Mr Muller said that compulsory licensing implied that all water would go back into the dam. All water would then be divided fairly. In Mhlathuze there had been severe problems. An intense audit was part of this process to determine who the users were and their needs, including previously marginalised users. There had been disputes over the initial list in Mhlathuze. Once the audit was complete, it would be published for public comment.

Mr Muller listed the reasons for introducing compulsory licensing. A proposed allocation schedule was drawn up before licensing took place. Some water was set aside for new users.

The Chairperson said that these were relatively small areas. He asked how the progress would be advanced to water-scarce areas such as Mpumalanga.

Mr Muller highlighted some of the problem areas. It was difficult for black people to participate in water management. The policy review would be a step towards addressing the problem. It was a slow and expensive process. DWA could not wait for this process to run its course. Unallocated land should be taken up in certain catchment areas. 100 000 hectares were available.

Discussion
The Chairperson said that DWA needed to come together with stakeholders. He instructed DWA to provide the Committee with a list of the unallocated resources, and what the future target areas were. This should be done sooner rather than later. Policy review was the first phase. Chapter 4 of the Act was archaic. He wanted a report-back from DWA by the end of May 2013. There were places where people lived within spitting distance of a dam and yet had no access to water.

Mr Muller replied that there were a number of projects regarding water for domestic use. There was no excuse for not allocating water for this purpose.

The Chairperson said that many poor black people were still not getting the benefits of water twenty years into democracy. He understood the historical problems, but not why so much time was being taken to address the problems.

Mr J Skosana (ANC) raised a concern about water allocation reform. This was not moving. This had been under discussion since 2010. Specific issues needed to be raised. He echoed the concerns of the chairperson. The requested report must have statistics and ownership details.

Ms M Wenger (DA) supported her colleague. The situation was unacceptable and needed serious attention. In water scarce areas, she asked if all water was being fully utilised. She asked if the water could be allocated to those that needed it. Percentages would enhance the presentation given.

The Chairperson identified two issues, namely allocation and the lack of infrastructure. All the infrastructure being put into place was to redress former inequities.

Mr Skosana returned to the issuing of licences. There was a legacy of people who had applied in the past. A progress report was needed.

The Chairperson said that this was a strategic issue. This needed to be considered at a high level. The current government only had one year to correct the problems.

Water Use Licence Application (WULA) Progress Report
Mr Nndanganeni Muxkene, Project Manager, DWA, presented a report on the figures as at 22 March 2013 regarding Water Use Licence Applications (WULA). A project had been set up to deal with the backlog in licence applications. There had been 417 applications finalised in 2012. The backlog was 1 142. There was a breakdown for the various sectors. Forestry was taking the lead in the finalised applications. There was a focus on energy needs. Renewable energy sources were part of the plans. There were 28 preferred bidders, which had been reduced to twelve for the bidding process.

The Chairperson asked what the time scale was for the outstanding applications.

Mr Muxkene said that 210 applications went back to 2010, and the rest were more recent. Historically disadvantaged individuals (HDI) were prioritised in the allocation of water. More licences were issued than those declined. More had been issued in the mining and agriculture sectors. Some 80 applications in KZN and Eastern Cape had been put on hold. These were all in the forestry sector. These were subject to environmental impact assessments (EIA). He presented a breakdown of applications according to the areas. Most of the backlog applications were due to a lack of verifiable information in the application.

Mr Muxkene presented a break-down of applications in each sector. Many mining applications were presented. There was growth in Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Northern Cape and Limpopo. National water resource strategy had been identified. Applications relating to this strategy were prioritised. Municipalities were also prioritised. When water was allocated, the reserves had to be considered.

Mr Muxkene listed the applications for 2011/12, and those currently being processed. He listed the WULA that had resulted in mediation or court action. Water for renewable energy projects was a priority.

The Chairperson asked how DWA defined a backlog.

Mr Muxkene replied that this would be any application not finalised in the year in which it was lodged. 348 dated from 2011 and 447 from 2012.

The Chairperson appreciated some of the detail, especially those showing where blockages were not the fault of DWA. However, he was not getting the full picture. He asked how the backlog was being addressed.

Mr Muxkene said that DWA was setting up a dedicated unit to deal with licences. In the past, this function had been undertake by DWA staff together with their other tasks. It was up to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) to approve the establishment of this unit. There was a dedicated team in the region of 40 to 50 people working on this. Some of the applications were very intricate and took a lot of consideration.

Mr Muxkene listed the challenges and interventions. Reserves had to be determined in each catchment area so that resources could be calculated without compromising resources. Some of these determinations were complicated, resulting in delays. The lack of water availability to HDIs was being addressed by compulsory licensing. There was a proposed structure.

Discussion
The Chairperson instructed DWA to provide a report on the backlog. He accepted that there would be a backlog, but had seen no progress in recent years. Where the clients were responsible DWA needed to wait for information, but others could be expedited. The facts being presented did not make sense to him as he could not see what the plan was. There should be one category where the client still had to provide information, and another where all the information was available. With such a large staff there should be movement.

Mr Muxkene undertook to provide the information by the end of April 2013.

The Chairperson said that good work had been done, but it seemed DWA was being defensive rather than strategic. There was a lack of vision.

Mr Skosana agreed with the Chairperson. It seemed the document had been presented just to cover the period under discussion. If not addressed the same issue would still be on the agenda in 2014. He could not understand why backlogs were arising. There had been a lack of capacity in the past, but now there was a team busy with the situation. Progressive reporting was needed.

Mr F Rodgers (DA) agreed that there was a problem with the presentation. He had not seen specific challenges being mentioned. He suggested that a map should be presented of the areas where the water supply was either ample or scarce.

The Chairperson said that Members had some knowledge but not all. He liked the suggestion made by Mr Rodgers. A map would help. He understood that Mr Muxkene was new in the job. The dedicated unit would help immensely. The heart and soul of equity was good licensing. Expertise was needed, but he was sad to hear that the plans were still so undeveloped. It was one thing to assimilate and analyse data. Data was important to formulate policy, but vision was equally important.

Dr S Huang (ANC) noted the process at the regional offices. More than 69% of these applications were in the backlog. This did not coincide with figures presented elsewhere in the presentation.

Mr Muller would engage with Dr Huang during a break.

Ms Tameka Mbassa, DDG: Regions, DWA, said that the comments made by Members reflected where DWA was with this function. They had not yet formulated a strategy. The structure had not been finalised. The programme leader had left DWA, causing some instability. There were challenges being picked up as DWA tried to make progress. Instead of waiting for DPSA to approve the structure separate elements could be considered. The detailed processing of licences would be forwarded to Members.

The Chairperson said that Members had raised this issue at the Department many years previously. It was not good enough still to be making excuses. He realised that a licence was a complicated thing and took time to process. However, he saw no vision in the report. After years of intervention he felt this was still the case. This had nothing to do with corruption, simply people not doing their work. The Committee had identified this function as the heart and soul of DWA. It made him feel sick. It seemed that there was forward movement in other areas of DWA's work. The nice words did not seem to count when it came down to the licensing process. If he was at DPSA he would not approve the creation of the unit. Senior managers were not showing leadership. He repeated that there had been some good work at the top level, but it did not seem to be filtering down to ground level.

Ms Mbassa said that some time would be needed to address the issue. She was the caretaker leader of the programme, but a permanent leader would soon be appointed.

The Chairperson instructed that DWA report back on this by the end of May 2013.

Mr Skosana added that Jesus died for people who were lazy. Now, the Directors at DWA had problems with their subordinates and they were taking the criticism. The directors needed to look at the work of their subordinates.

Legislation Review
Mr Anil Singh, Chief Director: Legal Services, DWA, said that DWA was dealing with two Bills. The Water Research Amendment Bill would go to Parliament in May 2013 and the Water Services Amendment Bill in July. He spoke about urgent reforms to the National Water Act (see document).

The Chairperson said that DWA would have to move faster for the Bills to be approved in the current term of Parliament.

Mr Singh would discuss this with the Minister. The Water Research Bill should not be a problem.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would introduce changes to the Bill. A lot of discussion would be needed. He foresaw problems. The election was likely to be in April or May 2014, so Parliament's programme would be severely curtailed.

Mr Singh had considered this. A revised programme would be drawn up.

The Chairperson said that lengthy debate was not needed at DWA level. The Bill could be published for public comment, and Parliament would debate it.

Mr Singh said that the Water Tribunal was governed by the National Water Act. The current term of office had ended in August 2012. The Bill proposed a reform of the tribunal to bring it in line with similar tribunals. There had been challenges. A new tribunal would be established in terms of the Act. A special sitting of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) was needed to appoint a chairperson. They were only due to meet again in October 2013. There could not be such a vacuum. Issues were being dealt with by roundtable discussions in the interim, as provided for in the Act. The Act did not provide for an interim Chairperson. This had to be a lawyer, although the previous incumbent was a psychologist.

The Chairperson said that the tribunal could be brought into line with other tribunals.

Mr Singh said that an Amendment Bill had been drafted which would provide for interim measures, but it might be better to revise the tribunal altogether.

Mr Singh said that DWA was still looking at aspects of the Water Services Amendment Bill. They would expedite the process given the urgency imparted by the Chairperson. Some synergy was needed with the National Environmental Management Act.

The Chairperson said that issues could be dealt with by separate bills. On others, there would be more complicated equity and legal arguments. Where DWA was sure of itself, it must move swiftly.

Mr Singh said that 45 cases had been brought to the tribunal. Ten appeals had been withdrawn. 23 were at a round table and negotiation phase, of which one had been resolved. Ten complainants had elected to wait until the new tribunal was in place and one matter had gone to court.

Discussion
The Chairperson said that Members needed to be informed on the case where the legality of the Water Tribunal had been challenged. A tribunal could not neglect its duties. The court had no expertise in allocating licences, but might be put into this position. The judge in a particular case had not been competent, as a licence award was part of the judgement. This was not his area of competence. The Chairperson had expressed himself strongly to the Minister. Judges could pronounce on the fairness of proceedings, but could not allocate licences.

Mr Singh also felt it was a problem that the tribunal had stood back in the Gugulethu case cited by the Chairperson. He agreed to report back to the Committee within two weeks.

Mr Rodgers asked what the legal standing was of tribunal decisions while the deputy chair was in office.

Mr Singh said that most matters had been postponed. Any decisions made would have been declared invalid. The idea was to get easy access, and when the tribunal became over-legalistic it restricted access.

The Chairperson said that the report must cover the possibility that decisions made were invalid. A legal opinion might be invalid. There were no consequences to a postponement although matters would be delayed. The amendments regarding mining were very urgent.

Water Research Commission (WRC) Corporate Plan 2013
Ms Barbara Schreiner, WRC Chairperson, said that the current board had taken office during 2012. There was a process to align the WRC strategy to government priorities. There had been a stable revenue base for some time. One possibility was a parliamentary appropriation as funding was currently from water user revenue.

Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, WRC Chief Executive Officer, said that Corporate Plan was just about signed off by the Minister. Various documents had been provided to Members.

Mr Naidoo said that one of the areas influenced by WRC was policy and decision making. There had been much publicity over the report on non-revenue water. The Minister had been vocal on the issue. Data from 132 municipalities had been compiled. The average for non-revenue water was 37%. This compared well to the international figure, but was still dismal. There were enormous water losses.

Mr Naidoo said that South Africa ranked 33rd in the world regarding research generally, but in the top twenty for water research. Climate change and its impact on vulnerable communities had been studied at some length. It was now time to move to engagement. A water atlas for climate change had been launched the previous year in conjunction with the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Mr Naidoo said that transforming South African society was a key aspect. A whole curriculum on training extension officers had been devised for further education and training colleges (FET). There was a significant water theme.

Mr Naidoo said that a feature of WRC's work for the future three years was establishing and executing sanitation research capacity in Southern Africa. Solutions involving low water use would be encouraged. South Africa would be a gateway for the Gates Foundation.

Mr Naidoo said that economic development was always a key consideration. Projects around aquatic science focused on techniques to test water quality.

Mr Naidoo listed the milestones for 2013/14. WRC wished to grow innovation with some high impact interventions. A new HIV treatment regimen was under consideration, but this might have an impact on water resources. Within the following two years the legal narrative would be completed. There was not enough of a plausible record surrounding the National Water Act. A third highlight would be investigating shale gas harvesting and the impact on water systems. There was a dialogue with the various role players. The fracking dialogue would happen in June 2013. Shell had agreed to participate. One of the things would be the finalisation of the research agenda. WRC was not convinced that there should be a debate on whether fracking should be allowed. However, if it happened, then WRC should be at the forefront of developing best practice.

Mr Naidoo said that part of the critique from the Committee had been about the research being inaccessible. This had been taken to heart, and a series of guidelines and manuals were being devised. One of these was a manual on river systems. There had been a series of projects on rain water harvesting. There was now a fair repository on this activity, which was a critical one in the rural areas and becoming equally so in urban areas.

Mr Naidoo had been in discussion with Public Enterprises Minister Gigaba on the flight to Cape Town. A compendium would be launched in July 2013 resulting from a study in Sebokeng on the linkage between water and energy consumption. Water pressure was kept low during the day, with a corresponding water and energy saving. There was a saving of 13MW per year not to mention the water savings, and a huge impact on carbon emissions.

Mr Naidoo said that several findings would be released during 2013. There would be a paper defining the role of water in the green economy. The WRC lighthouses would be released. These were concentrations of topics in five domains. One was the linkage between water, energy and food security. Most of the African cities fifty years hence did not exist at present. There were important opportunities in the development of towns such as Rustenburg.

Mr Naidoo said that the next lighthouse was on the Green Village. There was a project in the Drakensberg. Water governance was the issue of the times. Finally, not much needed to be said about climate change.

Mr Naidoo said that WRC was producing a large number of products. One of these was the creation of a scale filter device. The gem of this was that the design was organised so that it could be sold at R40. There had been engagement with DST and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to roll this out to all rural schools. There would be a profound improvement on the quality of life. There was a lot of emphasis on sanitation. The Gates Foundation had promised to grant further funding to promising projects.

Mr Naidoo said that the micro-flush toilet was another project. This could become a reality before the end of 2013. A communication tool should be used which the youth would be using. This would be a quiz using the Mxit platform. Several studies had shown that contamination was not always in the filtration or storage devices but in surrounding areas.

Mr Naidoo said that a WRC Symposium would be held in September 2013. There would be conference in November 2013, together with several international partners. The WRC dialogues calendar would be segmented. The Australia dialogue had been moved to 2014. An inter-parliamentary event could be organised.

Mr Naidoo said that almost 87% of revenue came from the water research levy. This was a unique model, but the quantum of funds was low. Their remaining income came from leverage, but it was clear that assured funding was needed. There would be a serious conversation about diversifying funding. The water sector was valued at a couple of hundred billion Rand. However, no more than R400 million was spent on water research and development. This was not sustainable.

Mr Naidoo said that research and development (R&D) funding was just below 75%. It was much better than the previous year. 100% of funds had been committed to projects. No over-runs were expected, and he did not expect any adverse audit reports. In 2011/12 WRC had received an unqualified report. There were some management comments. The internal audit report revealed no major errors. Auditors seldom got more excited than expressing a 'satisfactory' opinion.

Mr Naidoo said that one of the management issue was tax certificates. The key delinquents were universities. There was an issue about declaration of interest in suppliers by researchers. A new protocol had been developed. Irregular tender procedures had been condoned, but approved procedures would be followed in future. The WRC board had approved bonuses of R1.7 million.

The Chairperson expressed his dismissal of bonuses being paid to people who were merely doing their work. He had never met someone who had earned a bonus for some life-changing innovation. Bonuses were the “child of the devil”. A bonus system for excellence would benefit the country.

Mr Naidoo said that transformation programmes had been implemented. The board had been an important partner in achieving this. Currently, 47% of project leaders on new projects came from designated groups. Previously this had been 20%. Four of the projects had been at disadvantaged universities. All 75 projects addressed one or other aspect associated with the WRC knowledge tree.

Mr Naidoo turned to the budget. It had been approved by the Minister in November 2012, and was now a corporate plan. Income was budgeted at R211 million. The expected increase in the levy would be at the rate of inflation.

The Chairperson said that it had been proposed that research projects and target indicators be aligned to government priorities. In the performance reporting format, all indicators linked back to the objectives of government, DWA and the Minister.

The Chairperson wanted to see a clear link with achievements.

Ms Schreiner said that users of the research were identified at an early stage, and became involved in it.

Mr Naidoo said that WRC would be peer-reviewed during 2013. Four highly regarded scientists, two of whom were from overseas, would conduct the review. The week of 14 July would be set aside for this. He hoped that some Members would participate, and that the reviewers could visit Parliament.

Discussion
Dr Huang noted that 262 students participated, but only 240 were selected. He asked how they had been selected. He asked what benefits there were for the students, and if they were paid anything. He asked what job creation was happening. Development funding spending was at 75%. He asked how R45 million had been spent on waste water management projects.

Ms Wenger asked how WRC co-operated with universities. She asked for more clarity on the knowledge tree. She would like to see some of the findings on projects.

Mr Rodgers said that research was fine, but things only remained an idea until such time as a programme was implemented. These projects should not remain in the bottom drawer. He asked for an explanation of how HIV treatment affected water supplies. R17 million was allocated every year for the transfer of unspent project funds.

Mr Skosana had enjoyed the presentation. WRC was going somewhere. He asked how research would be conducted in rural areas. Rivers would be rehabilitated, and then DWA had to make a plan on redistribution.

Ms J Manganye (ANC) had not studied science, and found the work done by WRC fascinating. She would be pleased to see the manual. This would help the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), especially in their work on wetlands.

Ms M Bhengu (ANC) asked if any work was done in the municipalities.

Mr Naidoo responded that a large amount of information had been shared. He repeated his call for an extended workshop with Members. The WRC was a small gear that turned a big wheel. Sixty WRC people serviced a research community of over 6 000. The detail shown in the presentation was on one call for a project in 2012 for an operation to start on 1 April 2013. On average per year, there were 300 projects of which 70 projects involved some 500 students. In the new year, 82% of projects would incorporate some 262 students. These were predominantly post-graduate students. There was more to it than classical bursary funds. WRC funded the projects, and the student, to pursue this particular project. The bulk of the funding went towards fees and study material, and perhaps a small stipend. Selection was part of the proposal. Judgements were made on the appropriateness during the evaluation phase. Where no students were involved, project leaders were encouraged to reconsider. Students were tracked after completing projects.

Mr Naidoo said that it was unique to the environment that small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMME) were involved. Some were involved with universities. It was a good story to tell. There was job creation involved. The presentation was an abbreviated document. The detailed information should be made available to Members.

Mr Naidoo said that calls for projects were made throughout the year. One type was open while the other type wad directed, where projects had certain specified guidelines. There was a clear review procedure. Certain projects were then approved, and WRC then entered into formal contracts with the institutions to be involved. It was unfortunate that Members had not been invited to attend the non-revenue water management conference. An insightful report had resulted. The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) had produced a response plan.

Mr Naidoo said that research organisations had a particular mandate. Their job was producing knowledge. This knowledge turned into deliverables downstream. There were large repositories of knowledge. The HIV treatment was a curiosity that had to be satisfied. In the watercourses, substances were having an impact. The anti-retroviral cocktail was affecting water quality. The single tablet led to a lot of concentration.

Mr Naidoo said that the R17 million over-run would be a little less in 2013. Scientists were great optimists. Despite the urgings of WRC, they often ran behind schedule. Sometimes this was out of the hands of the researchers. Other countries also reported delays in their projects.

Mr Naidoo continued that there were thoughts over the follow-through on research projects. If the green village concept worked in the rural environment, it might work in an urban environment although other factors would be present. Everything WRC did should have an impact in five other places.

Mr Naidoo said that there should be some enforcement of practices developed by WRC.

The Chairperson said that WRC was functioning well. It was good that they were becoming more focussed. An updated slide presentation was needed as there had been changes. A week long oversight visit was possible, but WRC must prepare a proper programme. Reports should be forwarded to Members for their information. Direct interaction was needed between WRC and himself. DWA was there to provide leadership in water affairs. Local government might have some functions, but leadership must come from DWA and this was the biggest problem. WRC could play a role. The DWA could be prodded in certain directions. They could do more than simply provide research. Where there pockets of excellence they should see themselves as part of the way forward. He would like to see this happening more in the forthcoming year. WRC was a valuable resource.

Green and Blue Drop Progress
Mr Muller said that Blue and Green Drop Statuses were rewards for good performance. Two of the DWA team were spending time with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on discussions regarding quality of drinking water. Waste water risks should be managed before a risk arose. Credible information was needed from municipalities. A whole package had to be negotiated before blue drop status was awarded. A 99% rating was needed. Water could be safe without the blue drop status, but this implied excellence. Factors included appearance, fluoride content and micro-organisms.

Mr Muller said that a score of 90% was needed for green drop status. In many cases municipalities had installed extra toilets without upgrading sewerage systems. An increasing number of delegates was attending the water quality conference. The number of municipalities had decreased due to a demarcation process. All municipalities were assessed. Some municipalities took their water from more than one source, and in this case each was assessed. There had been an increasing number awards and quality of service.

Mr Muller said that water safety plans had been introduced. This would prevent incidents and identify risks to put systems in place to prevent incidents. The overall rating had increased from 95 to 97%. The standard was South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) standard 241. Of the samples tested, 97% were complaint. Nowhere in the world would there be a 100% success rate. A lot of data had been analysed. The more information tested the better, such as testing and different points of the distribution system. There had been a tremendous improvement over the years.

Mr Muller said that the quality of water at any place in the country was reflected in the booklet. There was a website which would give the user an indication of the quality of the local water anywhere in the country. Another success had been in the Delmas municipality in Mpumalanga, where people had died in a typhoid outbreak. In 2010 there was no information for a blue drop rating. In 2010 their rating was 25% and in 2012 82%. They had been recognised as the most improved water service authority.

Mr Muller said that in terms of the green drop status, the design capacity and flow of plants was assessed, together with technical skills. The bigger the plant the bigger the risk. He presented the factors used in assessments. If there was no supervision the risks were higher, as one of the aspects.

Mr Muller said that the Department of Public Works (DPW) had 170 plants at prisons and hospitals. In many of these there was a downward trend. All 831 plants had been assessed. The picture was not as good, with a number regressing. The way forward was to achieve an outcome of 97%.

The Chairperson asked in how many municipalities the water would be safe to drink.

Mr Muller would have to look in the book to find the answer, but the number was higher than in the previous year. He would look up the figures.

Mr Muller said that there were targets. There was a cross-pollination study with the Water Institute of Southern Africa. Regional offices played a huge role in municipal capacity building. Privately owned plants were also assessed. In spite of the support of DWA, municipalities were not being taken to court. Most of the systems had blue drop status, either in the public or private sector. Economic regulation was an issue. In many cases tariffs were too flat. Asset management was needed.

Mr Muller touched on some aspects. Staff turnover in municipalities was a problem. If the licence was outstanding compliance could not be determined.

The Chairperson asked if anyone was ever held accountable criminally where effluent was allowed to spill into waterways.

Mr Muller said that there was one case in court, but enforcement was certainly an issue.

Discussion
The Chairperson said that he heard of a number of invitations, but he had not seen any. There were procedures in place but there was a long lead time in getting permission for Members to attend. It was a good presentation, but he did not have the full picture. He asked DWA to send an addendum with the information.

Mr Skosana was thinking of the struggling municipalities in the rural areas. Not all of them were doing what they were supposed to do. DWA was doing a good job sensitising municipalities, but there were some places where he was afraid to open the tap. He asked how well records were kept. He asked how often the DWA was doing assessments. Some realism was needed. The green and blue drop awards indicated if people were getting clean water.

Dr Huang noted the challenges over waste water works, especially the comments on poor planning and management. Over R45 million had been spent by WRC. He asked how DWA linked to this research.

Mr Muller said that rural areas were a challenge. In the Qwa-Qwa area, a municipality had achieved blue drop status. Water boards helped with this. Municipalities should not manipulate the system. The records were being audited. Testing results had to be submitted on a monthly basis. It was essential to perform throughout the year.

Mr Muller said that DWA worked closely to see where it could co-operate with WRC and use their research.

The Chairperson wanted statistics on the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) and Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA). He had spoken to Mr Singh and wanted to see the data. DWA would submit a report. The other outstanding matter was the report by Ms Mbassa's office on infrastructure. There was a short input in the DWA document on water services. A report on irrigation boards was needed. The Auditor-General would report the following day.

Mr Muller said that there would be a presentation from the Trans Caledonian Tunnel Authority.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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