The Inkomati-Usuthu and Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agencies presented their annual reports for 2013/14 to the Committee. The Department of Water and Sanitation gave a brief introductory presentation, in which it was confirmed that each of the two agencies had made important strides in the conservation and management of water resources in their respective areas. Both entities received unqualified audits with no matter of emphasis. Both entities' cash flow wast positive. The Inkomati-Usuthu CMA had 74 outcomes and targets, of which it had exceeded 13%, met 47% in full, partially achieved on 16% but not me, partially achieved 10% but not met 11%. Some of the challenges were around the intention to transfer certain functions to the catchment management agencies, and re-alignment was being done. Stakeholder management was being promoted through workshops, school programmes and awareness sessions.
The Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency (CMA) set out the topics that had been discussed during the stakeholder empowerment workshops. It reported that systems for integrated planning and operations of river systems had been effectively implemented. Both the Crocodile and Sabie Decision Support Systems were operational on the CMA's river operations server. Discharge and water resource quality had been effectively monitored, although there was not full achievement of the targets for taking samples, because of lack of flow in some non-perennial streams. The collection rates of water trading entity debtors had improved, and some irrigation boards had now settled long-outstanding debts. There had been some serious financial constraints experienced throughout the year because of delayed transfer payments, which resulted in the need to defer a portion of the revenue for use in the next financial year. This CMA would require support in the de-establishment process of the irrigation boards. It had participated in various events, which were listed, and participated in the development of the Water Safety Plan. It had developed and circulated newsletters and brochures and had made improvements to the website. Water pollution problems were being addressed, and eighteen incidents that were reported had been dealt with. Internally, staff were performing well, were motivated, and employment equity was being monitored, and key policies had been reviewed to ensure effective corporate governance. An unqualified audit with no matters of emphasise was received, and there had been no deficiencies in internal controls nor non-compliance with laws reported. Designated officials had been attending training, particularly in preparation for own billing in April 2015.
The Breede-Gouritz CMA reported that it had drafted a Salinity Management Plan, conducted engagements with all eight local authorities on water use planning. 328 land use planning and rezoning applications had been assessed and commented on, exceeding the target by 234%. The Langeberg and Breede Valley Municipality Infrastructure report on drinking water infrastructure and future water resource needs for the Blue Drop Programme had been reviewed. The Water Quality Objectives report had been compiled. 784 water users were registered on the system, 16 general authorisations for water use had been confirmed, and 45 compliance visits, as well as inspections on water users with permits, were carried out. To support water allocation reform, 80 individuals received rain harvesting tanks through the Department of Water and Sanitation Resource Poor Farmers financial assistance policy. This CMA had dealt with 79 water use enquiries, launched a conference for resource-poor farmers and supported the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform on water use applications.
Members wanted to know the profile of the water license applicants and the criteria used for the rejection of the applications; asked about the number of Board Members that should be in each entity and criteria for their payment; enquired if the entities had managed to meet the 2% disability employment requirement, asked for more detail about outreach programmes in schools and rural areas on water education, and enquired about the use of consultants.
Breede-Overberg & Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agencies on their 2013/14 Annual Reports
Ms Margaret-Anne Diedricks, Director-General, Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation, informed the Committee that the two entities who were to present their Annual Reports had made significant strides in positioning their organisations to fulfill the mandate of protecting, using, conserving, managing and controlling water resources in an equitable and sustainable manner involving all stakeholders in their water management areas. Key strategic challenges of skills and capacity building were being addressed and overall performance over the reporting had been satisfactory.
In relation to their financial performance, she stated that both entities received unqualified audits with no matter of emphasis. The deficit for both entities was funded from cash surplus generated in previous years from the rollover, and interest generated from the bank. Both entities were in a cash positive situation. The Breede Catchment Management Agency (CMA) paid R204 678.22 performance bonuses to staff.
The overall performance of the Inkomati-Usuthu CMA, against the total of 74 outcomes and targets, for all the five strategic objectives in the consolidated performance tables, indicated that a total of 13% of targets were exceeded, 47% were met, 16% were partially met and 24% were not met. For the Breede-Gouritz CMA, of a total of 37 outcomes and targets for all five performance areas, 37% of targets were exceeded, 42% were met, 10% were partially met and targets not met were at 11%. This indicated that the overall performance of the entity was very good.
Ms Diedricks cited some of the challenges. The PROTO Catchment Management Agencies were preparing for readiness to be transferred to Catchment Management Agencies. The re-alignment governance framework for all entities had been established.
Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency Presentation
Dr Thomas Gyedu-Ababio, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Inkomati-Usuthu Catchment Management Agency, informed the Committee that his entity was continuing to support the Water Management Institutions (WMI). Some key issues discussed in the sub-catchment forums included:
- water quality status in municipal areas, mining and industries
- water use licensing
- resourcing poor farmers' funding from Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS or the Department)
- water tariffs from the irrigation boards and usage
- conditions for drilling domestic boreholes for household water use. in terms of licensing and related tariffs
- the progress on the process of establishing other water use areas in the sub-catchment.
- the water trading policy amongst water users
- metering of water use.
The Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation had embarked on the analysis of all WMIs that formed part of the de-establishment process of irrigation boards and the other WMIs. Inkomati-Usuthu provided information and needed support.
With regard to stakeholder empowerment and interactions, the Inkomati-Usuthu and Institutions and Participation (I&P), in collaboration with the Department, conducted a number of stakeholder empowerment workshops with historically disadvantaged individuals in the Sabie, Sand, Upper Komati and Lower Komati sub-catchments.
The I&P had conducted a number of workshops with emerging farmers throughout the Inkomati-Usuthu Water Management Agency. Inter-governmental Relations (IGR) forums, and environmental activities such as the Water Week, World Environment Day celebrations and Wetland Forums were held. The entity participated in the development of the Water Safety Plan.
On issues of marketing and communication, he noted that two Inkomati Flows Newsletters were developed. The Inkomati Flows was the newsletter of the entity that informed the public and stakeholders on the activities of the institutions. Three programme-based information brochures were developed. These brochures were based on the Inkomati Rivers Classification project, the Sabie & Sand ecological status as well as the Eco status of the Crocodile River catchment. The website had also greatly improved.
Systems for integrated planning and operations of river systems had been effectively implemented. Both the Crocodile and Sabie Decision Support Systems (DSS) were operational on the Inkomati Catchment Management Agency (ICMA) river operations server. The operating committee for the Crocodile River (CROCOC) was fully operational and the reporting of water quality has been added to the agenda during the year. Unfortunately, there had been delays in the establishment of the Sabie Operating Committee. Water meters had been installed in the Middle Komati.
Discharge and water resource quality had been effectively monitored. The target of 1968 samples had not been achieved.1850 samples had been taken, due to lack of flow in some non-perennial streams. The bio-monitoring of the Komati River could not be commissioned due to financial constraints. The Crocodile River study had been finalised. The Proactive Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Strategy draft had been submitted for review by the ICMA and comments were sent to the service provider for corrections. The strategy was rolled over to the 2014/15 financial year for finalisation. The water resource pollution had been remedied. Eighteen reported pollution incidents were attended to and remedied to the satisfaction of the ICMA.
He noted that there had been no variation from the expected performance in regard to good corporate governance, provision of legal services as well as operational risk management. Performance management of employees through quarterly reviews was effective throughout the year, with a motivated workforce.
The employment equity (EE) plan continued to be monitored to ensure equity in line with national governmental goals. Quarterly labour forum meetings continued to be held and this boosted staff morale. A few key policies were reviewed, including the governing board charters and code of conduct to ensure sustainable good corporate governance. Almost all planned targets under corporate services had been achieved, bar the filling of prioritised positions.
He noted that the management prepared regular, accurate and complete financial and performance reports that were supported and evidenced by reliable information. The audit opinion indicated that the performance information, as set out in the annual performance report that formed part of the Annual Report, was reliable, in all material respects, in accordance with the identified performance management and reporting framework. Of the total number of 37 indicators tested, 20 of the targets were substantively not achieved during the year under review. This represented 54% of total planned targets.
The entity achieved an unqualified audit with no matter of emphasis. There were no material findings on the annual performance report, in relation to the usefulness and reliability of the information. However, attention was drawn t to under-achievement of targets. The report did not identify any instances of material non-compliance with specific key applicable laws and regulations. The report did not identify any deficiencies in internal controls that were considered sufficiently significant for inclusion in the audit report. (Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate expenditure)
Dr Gyedu-Ababio concluded that training had been attended throughout the year, by the designated ICMA officials on WARMS. The Department had indicated that all financial systems to enable the existing Catchment Management Agencies to do their own billing would be transferred to Inkomati-Usuthu by 1 April 2015. The collection rates of the WTE Debtor for the Inkomati had improved from 20% to almost 40%, through payment received from some irrigation boards on long outstanding debts. Serious financial constraints were experienced throughout the year because of delayed transfer payments and this resulted in the need to defer a portion of the revenue for utilisation in the next financial year.
Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency Presentation
Mr Phakamani Buthelezi, Chief Executive Officer, Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency, indicated that to support water resource planning, this CMA had attended to the drafting of a Salinity Management Plan. The CMA had conducted engagements with all eight local authorities on water use planning. 328 land use planning and rezoning applications had been assessed and commented on, exceeding the target of 240, by 234%. The Langeberg and Breede Valley Municipality Infrastructure report on drinking water infrastructure and future water resource needs for the Blue Drop Programme had been reviewed. The Water Quality Objectives report had been compiled.
In regard to water use management, 784 water users had been registered on WARMS, which was 30% higher than target. 16 general authorisations for water use applications had been confirmed. 45 compliance visits were conducted. Inspections on water users with valid permits were carried out. The validation of the BOCMA area had been done. 600 verification letters were sent to water users and this therefore had reached the set target.
He reported on the institutional engagements, noting that 20 marketing materials had been developed. Over 4 628 people had been reached through Land Care camps and youth awareness days. 36 Water Forums, including the Masazane Women’s Water Forum, National Institute of the Deaf and Irrigation Boards were supported. Irrigation Boards had been transformed into Water Use Authority (WUA). The entity participated in 26 inter-governmental forums and continued its support for water funded research projects done at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Western Cape University.
In relation to water allocation reform, Mr Buthelezi reported that 80 individuals received rain harvesting tanks through the Department of Water and Sanitation Resource Poor Farmers financial assistance policy. The entity assisted with 79 water use enquiries with Water Allocation Reform. A launch of the BOCMA Water Transformation Conference for Resource Poor Farmers was held, and the entity had provided 100% support to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform for water use applications.
With regard to resource protection, the Breede-Gouritz assisted the Department with enforcement cases through initial investigations and confirmation of illegal activities. Alien clearing and River Rehabilitation Programmes were still continuing in the Upper and Central Breede River. Water Quality reports had been drafted for the Breede River and Estuary monitoring projects.19 sample runs were done on behalf of the Department for NEMP and NMMP. (Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate performance of outcome activities)
This entity received an unqualified audit opinion for the financial year 2013/14. (Tables and graphs were shown to illustrate breakdown of finances)
Committee Members asked the same questions of both entities, and each of them responded in turn giving relevant details.
The Chairperson asked the entities to send the Committee periodicals that were published from time to time, so that the Members could acquaint themselves with developments around water issues.
Mr M Mpontshane (IFP) wanted to know the profile of the water license applicants and the criteria used for the rejection of the applications. He also asked if members attending the water forums were receiving payment.
Dr Gyedu-Ababio stated that many times the applications were not rejected out of hand; people were asked to bring in more details but they then failed to produce the required documents and information. Then a follow-up would be done. Some responded, others did not.
Dr Gyedu-Ababio noted that the members attending water forums were not getting any money but the CMAs had spoken to the Minister, asking that stipends be considered. The entities were stressing the importance of these forums. Members attending were offered refreshments only.
Mr Buthelezi indicated that the profile of applicants with whom his entity dealt was largely agricultural, and some came from the municipalities along the Overberg region, for groundwater. Attention was given more to emerging farmers. There were guidelines that were being followed.
Ms Diedricks added that the Department had already indicated, by Government Gazette publication, that those who did not have licences would be penalised, and would be excluded from the database of the Department.
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) asked, firstly, about the number of Board Members that should be in each entity and criteria for their payment. Secondly, he enquired if there were bursaries available for the upliftment of locals. Thirdly, he wanted to know if the entities were using consultants to execute some of the work.
Ms Patience Nyakane, Governing Body Chairperson, Inkomati-Usuthu, said the Minister determined the composition of the Board. The Board also decided about the stipend of members but that determination was regulated by the Minister and National Treasury. Previously, Inkomati had 14 members, but was now left with 8 ,whereas Breede initially had 11 but was currently left with 9, after resignations. The members were paid per sitting.
Ms Nyakane said that Inkomati sponsored three students with bursaries, but only one was still in the . employ of Inkomati, as the others had left to join other companies.
Mr Buthelezi said that Breede CMA was working with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and University of Western Cape with regard to research. This CMA did not rely upon the use of consultants. Most work was done internally. Consultants would be used for work that could not be done internally. Verification, validation and legal expertise were outsourced.
Ms K Bilankulu (ANC) asked if the entities had managed to meet the 2% required in terms of disabled employment, as stipulated by legislation. She further asked why the entities had not mentioned anything about delays in transfers from the Department.
Mr Buthelezi confirmed that Breede CMA had one disabled person in its employ. At Inkomati, the only appointment was that of the Chairperson of the Board by the Minister, but each of the entities confirmed that efforts were made to bring more disabled people on board.
Mr Buthelezi commented that late transfers had been part of the history of the Agencies, but there had been a commitment from the Chief Financial Officers and Director-General of the DWS that they would not happen again.
The Chairperson wanted to establish if there was a Water Charter. He asked if there were collaborations between the Catchment Agencies on functions, and with the Department of Environmental Affairs on clearing alien plants and other environmental matters.
Dr Gyedu-Ababio explained that the sector did not have a Charter but was working on the Water Transformation Charter. On the issue of collaboration, he indicated that there was collaboration between the Agencies and the Department of Environmental Affairs, especially when it came to getting rid of alien plants. The Catchment Agencies outsourced this function but funding was available in relation to the Department of Environmental Affairs.
Mr T Makondo (ANC) wanted clarity on the Breede donor funds.
Mr Buthelezi elaborated that his entity was on a fund raising campaign to augment the grant, in respect of the policy and programmes that it was working upon.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) remarked that she did not hear the entities talking about an outreach programme in schools and rural areas, around water education. She also asked if there was a reservoir in the Kruger National Park for the animals in times of drought. Inkomati was close to that area.
Ms Nyakane explained that Inkomati was already doing an outreach programme and had adopted a school. During the Water Week, the focus was on primary and high schools, and was about water education and taking care of rivers. There were yearly competitions held amongst the schools about water awareness, with the winners being awarded prizes. Furthermore, there was a programme called Adopt-A-River that has been initiated in communities, so that they took care of the rivers, and the CMAs were working with traditional leaders in this project. She asked also asked Committee Members to adopt a river in communities they come from.
Mr Buthelezi added that Breede CMA had a dedicated unit which was mandated to promote the idea of water management in both urban and rural schools, particularly because water was a scarce resource in the areas covered by his CMA.
Dr Gyedu-Ababio said that his CMA had dams around Kruger National Park, but the Park itself also had provision for water for the animals. The entity would supply the Park with water when it was needed.
The meeting was adjourned.