The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) briefed the Committee on water resource pollution in Madibeng municipality, on how water supply interventions in Swartruggens were being addressed and on the fostering of a partnership between the mines and municipalities in addressing water challenges in the North West following repeated oversight visits by the Committee.
In Madibeng, where there had been pollution of the De Kroon Spruit, interventions had identified and stopped pollution of the sewer lines leading to the pump station. The sewers had been cleaned, water quality tests were being done, the pump station was being refurbished and a new treatment plant was being installed at the tannery. Positive feedback was received on these measures from a school situated on the De Kroon Spruit but the rehabilitation of the stream remained a challenge as R5m was needed for further work, as well as R9m funding for an industrial outfall sewer.
The restoration of water supply to the Swartruggens and Borelelo areas saw interventions implemented to increase the Swartruggens Dam capacity by removing dam sediment and to augment the dam with imported water from a full dam or from the dolomitic areas nearby. Two boreholes had been drilled and trucks and tankers were supplied to provide water to the Swartruggens areas. The biggest challenge was a lack of funds, while other challenges were a lack of water conservation and demand management plans, poor municipal operations and maintenance plans, ageing municipal water and sanitation infrastructure and a lack of municipal operations and maintenance budgets. DWS was in discussions with Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) to access Municipal Infrastructure Grants (MIG) funds.
To address the water challenges in the Bojanala District Municipality, DWS had established the Water Sector Forum and was fostering a partnership between the mines and municipalities. Two meetings had been held. The Chamber of Mines indicated that it wanted the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to be included in this engagement and that it wanted the Social and Labour Plans (SLPs) of the mines to be reviewed in line with DMR requirements to assist municipalities. The SLP of the mine and the Integrated Development Plan of the municipality needed to cohere.
Members were pleased with the progress report but raised many concerns. Members could not understand how Treasury could decline funds when lives were being threatened through the lack of water and asked why Treasury was declining the funding. Members asked how the smell at the taxi rank, the old mill and the water treatment plant itself were going to be addressed. Why was it taking so long to do de-siltation at Swartruggens Dam and was there an action plan for this? How were increased siltation levels being dealt with at other dams in the country and was there a plan to monitor this nationally? Members asked how far DWS had addressed concerns raised by the Chamber of Mines. How far had DWS addressed concerns raised by the mines, such as the review of their Social and Labour Plans (SLPs), the DMR’s requirements and that the progress on water should be included in the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). Were IDP timeframes discussed with the Chamber of Mines? Who would be doing the mine reviews? Members said the Bojanala District Municipality Water Forum should continue to meet. Members asked if there was a tracking mechanism to ensure that funds were used for water and sanitation.
Members noted that in Lekwa municipality in Mpumalanga, 500 houses were standing empty because there was no electricity or water supply and there was no plan to get people into the houses. How close was DWS and COGTA’s working relationship? The ‘Back to Basics’ programme spoke about 27 hotspot districts and what was the progress in those 27 districts? Members directed DWS’s attention to the pollution of the Hartebeespoort Dam and asked if DWS had budgeted R45m to clean the dam in this financial year. Members formally requested that DWS prioritise Gert Sibande and Nkangala District Municipalities in Mpumalanga in 2017 because these districts mirrored what was seen in Madibeng.
Mr Justice Maluleke, DWS Director for the North West Province, said that in Madibeng, where there had been pollution of the De Kroon Spruit, had implemented an action plan containing interventions to identify and stop pollution of the sewer lines leading to the pump station. The abattoir and tannery had implemented pre-treatment effluent interventions to stop sewer lines to the pump station from overflowing. Sewers had been cleaned, water quality tests were being done and the pump station was being refurbished. A new treatment plant was being installed at Brits Tannery. The school on the De Kroon Spruit had given positive feedback but the rehabilitation of the stream remained a challenge as R5m was needed for further work, as well as finding R9m in funding for an industrial outfall sewer.
Ms Zandile Mathe, DWS Deputy Director General: Water Resource Infrastructure, said that water supply to the Swartruggens and Borelelo areas needed to be restored and it was decided to increase the Swartruggens Dam capacity by removing dam sediment and to augment the dam with imported water from a full dam or from the dolomitic areas nearby. Two boreholes had been drilled and trucks and tankers were supplied to provide water to the Swartruggens areas. Dam sediment removal had started. The biggest challenge was a lack of funds, as there was not even funding for the current projects. DWS had approached Treasury but their application had been rejected. DWS had been advised to approach Disaster Relief or MIG for funds. DWS was exploring this and was in discussions with COGTA to access MIG funds. It would know in two weeks where it would get money from. Other challenges were a lack of water conservation and demand management plans, poor municipal operations and maintenance plans, ageing municipal water and sanitation infrastructure and a lack of municipal operations and maintenance budgets.
Mr Lebogang Bogopa, DWS Director: North West Province Water Sector Support, said that DWS was fostering a partnership between the mines and municipalities to address the water challenges and it had established the Bojanala District Municipality Water Sector Forum. Two meetings had been held where the Chamber of Mines indicated that it wanted the DMR to be included in this engagement and that the mines’ SLPS should be reviewed in line with DMR requirements to assist municipalities.
The Chairperson said the Committee had been to Madibeng four times and to Kgatleng once and therefore it wanted to focus on these areas. The Committee had visited a wastewater treatment plant, an abattoir and a school. He could not understand how Treasury could decline funds when lives were being threatened through the lack of water, as compared to the availability of money when the 2010 World Cup was held.
Mr L Basson (DA) congratulated the DWS task team and Madibeng municipality because there was no smell in the De Kroon Spruit. He was however concerned because there was a smell at the taxi rank, the old mill and the treatment plant itself. How were these going to be addressed?
Ms T Baker (DA) said her concern was what was happening in the rest of the country where lives were under threat. Why was it taking so long to do something about Swartruggens Dam siltation levels, as this had been an issue since 2012? Was there an action plan for the siltation levels of the dam? How were increased siltation levels being dealt with at other dams in the country? Hazelmere Dam capacity had dropped 25%. Was there a plan to monitor siltation levels?
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) said the Chamber of Mines wanted to assist. How far had DWS addressed concerns raised by the mines, such as the review of their SLPS, the DMR’s requirements and that the progress on water should be included in the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). Were IDP timeframes discussed with the Chamber of Mines? Who would be doing the mine reviews?
Mr T Makondo (ANC) congratulated DWS and said the Water Forum should continue to meet.
Ms Mathe replied that DWS did not have a monitoring plan. It had approached the CSIR which was developing a document to be released soon. By the following financial year, the document would be integrated into DWS’s operations and maintenance strategy.
Mr Maluleke replied that the wastewater treatment plant and the smells had been flagged by DWS as well as by the Forum, which included the mines. The Forum noted that the matter had to be included in the IDP. It was work in progress. He said abattoirs had been issued with a directive to deal with the effluent urgently and within 14 days.
Ms Lerato Sebidi, Acting Director: Infrastructure and Technical Services at Madibeng municipality, said the pump station referred to, was supposed to discharge into the Brits wastewater treatment works. Due to the topography, 14 wastewater treatment plants discharged into the Brits plant. The challenge currently was that of cable theft and other options to copper cable are being explored. The design of the Brits plant was a challenge and other technologies were also being explored as an alternative to the refurbishment of the Brits plant. The main cause of the smell was fatty deposits as well as blood coming into the plant from the tannery and the abattoir.
Mr Sifiso Mkhize, DWS Acting Director General, said that one of requirements was that the projects identified in the Social and Labour Plans (SLPs) of mining companies should also be incorporated into the IDP of municipalities. Municipalities were currently busy doing this. Mines had their own consultative meeting on the needs of municipalities and how they could support municipalities. Meetings were scheduled to be held in early January, where action plans would be finalised and projects would be prioritised and this would be followed by a MoU. He said the Water Forum was the only way to bring all sectors together and integrate support to municipalities.
Ms Stephinah Mudau, Head of Environment at the Chamber of Mines, said the Chamber of Mines was aligned with DWS’s report. The Chamber saw its involvement as being in two aspects. One, on assisting in implementing quick wins where no formal budget approval processes were required, such as capacity building, skills transfers, dealing with leaks, the implementation of water conservation and water demand management. The second aspect was around big spend projects. Municipal IDPs needed to be adopted in the mines’ SLPs and in this regard, it was important to get the DMR involved so that the mines individual SLPs could be relooked at to see if there were water and sanitation-related interventions which could be incorporated into the mines’ SLPs. There was a planned meeting in February 2017 to identify quick win projects that could be implemented without hassle and yield a big, positive impact and also to identify the big spend projects.
Mr Sandile Mkhize, Acting CEO: Magalies Water Board, gave feedback on the work by Magalies Water Board at the Swartruggens Dam. He said the Magalies Water Board took a decision, after the Committee’s visit, to mobilise plant equipment and capacity to start the de-siltation process of the dam, even without approved funding. The Water Board would however, need to get a formal letter of appointment from DWS and a budget allocation so that it could be reimbursed.
Mr Mkhize said that in as much as there was improvement there was still much work to be done. DWS was still engaging with Treasury on funding. He said he would ensure that Magalies Water Board was properly appointed as the implementing agent.
The Chairperson asked why Treasury was declining the funding.
Mr Mkhize said Treasury said it was due to the non-availability of funds.
The Chairperson said DWS’s War On Leaks programme was no different to what the Chamber of Mines programme was calling for. The mines were keen to engage strategically with municipalities. It could assist in maintenance. Municipalities were expected to spend 10% of its budget on maintenance and that was not being done currently.
Ms Vespa Mabitsi, COGTA Director responsible for MIG in the North West Province, said COGTA was working closely with DWS to ensure COGTA understood the needs in each area. There was a process underway to identify the backlog and define the projects that needed to be done to attain the target of achieving 90% access to reliable water services by 2019. In this regard, Bojanala was a priority district. There was a need to focus on strengthening the plans of these particular municipalities because currently the municipalities did not have proper water and sanitation plans. COGTA assisted them to prioritise water and sanitation through the MIG because, if one looked at Bojanala, there was a tendency to prioritise projects other than water and sanitation. COGTA wanted these municipalities to also prioritise the refurbishment of dilapidated and aged infrastructure.
Mr Mnguni asked if there was any measure to enable DWS to track that funds were used for water and sanitation.
Ms Mabitsi replied that the MIG had a formula to allocate funds to municipalities. 75% of the total allocation was for water and sanitation and roads. Of this, 72% was for water and sanitation and 23% for roads. The other 5% was for public facilities and economic development. COGTA had a planning session every year where it called on all municipalities to engage them on where they have allocated their funds in terms of the MIG formula. Sometimes municipalities did allocate much more to roads and COGTA was able to track where monies were not spent on water and sanitation. In the last two weeks, it had sat with Bojanala District and indicated to them that the allocation was skewed towards roads and that it wanted to see a different picture in 2017/18. If the picture was not better in 2017 it would request Treasury not to transfer any funds to the municipality until the allocation was corrected.
Ms Baker noted that in Lekwa municipality in Mpumalanga, there were 500 houses standing empty because there was no electricity or water supply and there was no plan to get people into the houses. How close was DWS and COGTA’s working relationship?
The Chairperson said the Back To Basics programme spoke about 27 hotspot districts, which number seemed not to diminish. Was progress being made in those 27 districts?
Ms Mathe replied that the reality was that the allocation was not happening as it was supposed to. One of the reasons for this was that planning had been done in silos by the sector departments and COGTA. As a result, there were a number of backlogs. These had been identified. The coming year would be a year of consolidating areas that had gaps in their value chain. Where there were bulk services for example but no reticulation, reticulation would be provided and vice versa. These municipalities had been identified. DWS was working closely with COGTA and would meet on a quarterly basis with municipalities on infrastructure. There was no space for new projects in the coming year.
The Chairperson said another area that needed DWS’s assistance was Hartebeespoort Dam.
Mr Basson asked if DWS budgeted R45m to clean Hartebeespoort Dam in this financial year or was it a rumour. What was the plan?
The Chairperson said he was sure that mines would be interested in this type of programme.
Mr Basson said Hartebeespoort Dam was also a tourist attraction but this was declining because of the water quality which in turn harmed the economy of Madibeng and the North West province.
Mr Maluleke replied that 675 megalitres per day of wastewater was received by the Hartebeespoort Dam from Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Johannesburg and Mogale City. There were challenges at the Sutherland wastewater treatment works of Tshwane, mainly due to cable theft but this had been restored and the plant was operational. In Ekurhuleni, the primary settling tanks of the Olifants wastewater treatment works had silted up. The settling tanks were currently being cleaned. Johannesburg had had two major incidents. At Leeukop prison, where two main sewer lines met, debris had silted the pipes and caused damage. The work in repairing this was still in progress. The second incident was that a containment dam had silted up and resulted in spill over. Work on the Dam should be complete by end of February 2017.
Mr Anil Singh, DWS Deputy-Director General: Water Sector Regulation, said the remediation project for Hartebeespoort Dam was in the procurement phase. The Water Research Commission report had recommended eutrophication management as a solution and a pilot study to test this was underway.
Ms Baker requested that DWS prioritise Gert Sibande and Kangala Districts in Mpumalanga in the following year because these districts mirrored what was seen in Madibeng.
The meeting was adjourned