Department on Water Services: briefing

Water and Sanitation

09 September 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 September 2003
DEPARTMENT ON WATER SERVICES: BRIEFING


Chairperson:
Mr J H Van Wyk (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department on Water Services Powerpoint Presentation
Visit to Free State and Northern Cape provinces Committee Report
Study tour to the North-West Province Committee Report (Appendix)

SUMMARY

The Department highlighted the key achievements of water services. This included developmental organizations formed to implement Department strategies; co-operative projects and equitable distribution of water services. Concern was expressed over areas such as the adverse audit report; free basic water delivery; forestry restructuring; progress of water management institutions and access to water rights by emerging farmers.

MINUTES
The Chairperson explained that the Water Services briefing would be introductory. However, time would be allocated at the end of 2003 or early 2004 for a more comprehensive examination of the report.

Mr Mike Muller (Director General) and Ms Maggie Modipa (Deputy Director General Corporate Affairs) represented the Department. The presentation highlighted key achievements of water services. The following points were emphasized:
-developmental organisations and institutions were to ensure implementation of the Department's strategies. Consumers were encouraged to use the Water User Associations
-most projects were cooperative projects.
-allocation and billing was registered, policy reform was not just theoretical and distribution was aimed at being equitable.
-an independent evaluation would be available later in 2003 .
-timber was sustainably harvested and sold.

Mr Muller promised a comprehensive report shortly. The new format of the report would focus on Department's achievements allowing services to be more efficiently assessed.

Please refer to attached Powerpoint Presentation on water services.

Discussion
Mr Van Wyk (ANC) noted that the report highlighted the achievements of the Department and did not point out the underachievement. It was therefore difficult to make a comparison considering that there were diverse audit opinions. He requested more information about the Standing Committee on Public Accounts process.

Ms Modipa said that there was a process in place to deal with accounts.

Chief P Mathebe (ANC) asked for clarity surrounding three issues: if black emerging farmers were benefiting from the Department's programmes, why certain communities living around dams, in particular, the Loskop Dam, were not receiving water from these dams. Would the Department change this position? What was the extent of the "work for water" programmes in Mpumalanga?

Ms Modipa was uncertain about the number of black emerging farmer beneficiaries. She could not quantify but assured the meeting that "work for water" projects were definitely in place in Mpumalanga. Unfortunately she was unable to give details of the Loskop Dam concern.

Mr M Masala (ANC) asked about water tariffs, if the Department had a uniform water structure for all regions or differentiated for particular areas. Did the Department overspend or underspend?

Mr S Simons (NNP) later, similarly asked if the under spending was directly related to unfilled vacancies.

Ms Modipa said that the Department calculated the best prices for municipalities. The two- percent underspending was related to unfilled vacancies due to unsuitable candidates who applied for vacancies.

Mr Simmons asked for an indication of how the Department used their budgeted funds, in particular, with relation to assistance given to communities and farmers in struggling provinces. Were any areas considered disaster areas? What time frames were in place regarding free basic water (FBW)? Lastly, were all category A forests handed over and how would the other categories be handled?

Ms Modipa assured the meeting that the budget was used for the intended purposes. The FBW supply seemed to be on schedule because by March 2003, 75% of the program was rolled out. She could not say much about the drought situation.

Mr M Masala (ANC) asked if the building of any new dams were being planned and if the exposed water pipe problem had been addressed.

Ms Modipa said she would refer this enquiry to the department for a response in writing.

Mr McIntosch (DA) asked if the amount of R80 000 subsidy each, for 306 emerging farmers, was not excessive and what was meant by the hand over of a category A forest.

Ms Modipa agreed that the amount might sound high but that her colleagues were in a better position to give a breakdown of this expenditure and the land use agreements regarding forests.

Mr M Sibiya (IFP) referred to the formation of public/private schemes, in particular, as it were affected by BEE policies.

Ms Modipa explained that the Department ensured that the infrastructure was refurbished and the scheme was made functional for the receiving institution before hand over. Mechanisms were in place for the transfer of employees from national to local government. She assured the meeting that full details of BEE policies could be accessed.

Mr D Mabuyakula (new Committeee member - ANC) expressed concern about the area where he resided, currently hard hit by drought.

Ms Modipa told of this concern that was raised with the Deputy President and that it was being addressed and mentioned the Georgina Dam currently serving a community in the far north of Kwazulu-Natal.

Mr D Maimane (ANC) asked when the Committee could expect the full report and also suggested that the Director General be asked to respond.

Mr Van Wyk requested a response from the Department in writing. At the following meeting he requested further interpretation of the report incorporating the negative aspects. Areas of concern were:
-the adverse audit report.
-free basic water delivery.
-forestry restructuring.
-progress regarding water management institutions.
-access to water rights, especially emerging farmers.

Free State & Northern Cape Province Visit; North West Province Study Tour: Committee Reports
The reports are being finalized and would be discussed soon. Mr Van Wyk, Mr Masala, Mr Ditshetelo, Mr Phala and Ms Ndzanga would cover the North West Province Study Tour Committee report. Mr Maimane, Mr Sigwela, Mr Simmons, Chief Mathebe & Chief Hlaneki would look at the Committee Report on the Northern Cape and Free State Visit.

The meeting was adjourned.


Appendix
REPORT OF THE PC ON WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY ON A STUDY TOUR TO THE NORTH-WEST PROVINCE: 04, 05 AND 08 AUGUST 2003

INTRODUCTION:

The Water Services Act No 108 of 1997 was introduced in order to ensure that there is water services delivery, which would include proper sanitation and water management structures, which would prevent illegal water connections and cut-offs.

TERMS OF REFERENCE:

The committee needed to find out whether the provisions of the Water services Act No 108 of 1997 are implementable. Based on the provisions of the act, each household is entitled to free of water on a daily basis. The committee, decided to visit water boards, in the province since they have to provide the water and the district municipalities/and or city councils since, they are the once who ultimately provide the service to communities and ensure that the services, are paid for and properly utilized.

BACKGROUND:

The committee was in the North-west province for three days, Monday and Tuesday in Mmabatho and Klerksdorp respectively and Friday in Haartepoort dam.

04 AUGUST 2003:

MEETING HELD IN THE BOARD ROOM OF MOTSWEDING HOUSE,OF THE NORTH-WEST PROVINCE - DEPARTMENT OF WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTY.

The director of the department in the region, Mr Chadwick Lobakeng welcomed all present. Mr Maimane led the delegation of the committee.

The delegation consisted of:

Mr Maimane

Mr Masala

Ms Ndzanga

Mr Phala

Mr Ditshetelo

The Director, Mr Chadwick Lobakeng, briefed the delegation on the water services programme in the region. He also outlined his department's proposed plans for the 2003/04 financial year.

He indicated that, in terms of the water services programme for the 2003/04 financial year, 80 000 people will be provided with basic water supply. The funding allocated for this is R87 million.

At the moment, there are 10 projects under construction:

Bapong Modderspruit

Bojanala District Municipality rural water supply

Lower Maje-a-kgoro

Manthestat

Bophirima District Municipality rural water supply

Central District Municipality rural water supply

Dithakong/bothithong

Ncweng Sedibeng

Kgalagadi District Municipality rural water supply

Southern District Municipality rural water supply

CHALLENGES:

There is a backlog of 240 000 people in the rural areas, amounting to about R270 million. 1 000 000 people in old scheme need upgrading to RDP standard and is aboutR800 million. Funding required is R1 070 million, about R265 million p.a, they believe that, this will be the amount required in order to reach target as set out by the National department for the next 4 years. The current level of funding received is R129 million (this consists of the R87 million for water provision and R42 million for sanitation). For sanitation there is a backlog of 255 000 households (42 000 households using the bucket system), 372 schools still needs to be provided for.

The regional department believe that, they can reach the targets set out by the national department is the national department, water services authorities (which are yet to be established), water boards, non-governmental organizations and private sector worked together. At the moment is difficult for the regional department to deliver since, water services officers who are to be appointed by the water services agencies, have not been appointed, as they are to oversee the process, of delivery, regulate prices of services and all other related matters (this as stipulated in the Water Services Act 108 0f 1997.

Four (4) water boards are now operating in the North West and engaged in water services provision. However, water services agencies have not yet completed the process of using water board as future water service providers as stipulated in section 78 of the Act.

ACHIEVEMENTS:

For the 2002/03 financial year, 91 000 households were served with basic water supply, this amounting to R106 million. Thirteen (13) project have thus far been completed.

The department is concerned that, the current allocation of funds is not in line with the strategy of achieving the target of 2008 for water and 2010 for sanitation.

They however, believe that, the North-West water sector has the capacity to handle R20 million p.a. for water supply and R80 million p.a. for sanitation if existing constraints are addressed. The constraints being mainly, policy gaps, discrepancies in the department's policy, the eradication of the bucket system, with the subsidy level not acceptable to communities. Even for household sanitation the subsidy is not acceptable. Following the meeting with the regional office of the department of water affairs and forestry, the delegation had to meet with the Central district council, since as indicated earlier, the water boards, councils and/or municipalities are the water services and sanitation providers.

MEETING HELD AT THE OFFICES OF THE CENTRAL DISTRICT COUNCIL

Executive Mayor, Mr Mohulatsi and the acting municipality manager, Ms Thaele, hosted the delegation.

The executive Mayor, Mr Mohulatsi, stipulated the areas that, the central district municipalities cover, he then gave, Botshelo water, who are the main water services providers a chance to address the meeting. The presentation was done by Mr Steven Naraghi, manager, technical services at Botshelo water, one of the water services providers in the region.

Mr Steven Naraghi, stated at the onset that, all stakeholders at the meeting, have a common goal, that of providing a service to the community, so it is important that, they not compete with each other but, compliment and co-operate with each other. It is important that, the district municipality, work hand in hand wit the water providers. He indicated that, there is a lot of expertise, within the water service providers sector.

He reported that, Moretele Dam is the biggest dam in the North-west province. Setumo dam needs to be expanded so that it can be more accessible as from time to time it dries up causing water shortages. The infrastructure for the Setumo water treatment plant needs to be upgraded. The water treatment plant gives a fair indication of how many more dams are needed to provide water within the region adequately.

Botshelo water board is providing water for 676 000 rural households and 144 966 urban households. He stated that, even though they are expected to provide 60 kl of water daily, an amount less than this is needed for survival.

ACHIEVEMENTS:

Since 1996 213 000 people have access to water. Equity on water delivery is good but it needs to be increased.

CHALLENGES:

There is still need for water for basic economic development. The current situation has been existing since 1999. There have not been much improvements since then. Botshelo water has been able to provide water for 422 024 urban households and 493 000 rural households.

Funding is desperately needed for proper delivery. At moment there is R1 193 billion provided for water and R1 3 00 billion for sanitation. There is a backlog of R800 million on water services and R400 million on sanitation in the urban areas.

In closing the meeting, Mr Mohulatsi appealed to the delegation to motivate for more funds for municipalities from the national department as the district municipalities serve mostly unemployed people who cannot pay for services they provided, i.e. water and/or electricity.

In certain instances, like in Dinokana in Zeerust, there is abundant water supply, but communities do not want to pay for the water that is provided and do not also want to share their water supply with neighbouring areas as they believe that they are solely entitled to water supply as it is part of their royalties.

He suggested that, any interventions for the government should be based on basic service delivery.

Mr van Rensburg, the Botshelo water project engineer, gave an account of the new projects that they are now working on. The first phase, Mafikeng peri-urban started in 1996. It is divided into five parts, which include, areas like Motsweding, and Phola in Lichtenburg.

The second phase, is Montshiwa-Manyemantsho, however, this part of the project has not been implemented as finance is needed for this to happen. He stated that, communities still need to be educated about the concept of "free basic water" as water as a resource needs to be paid for, communities need to understand this. Municipalities have to buy the water from the water boards that in turn, get the "raw water" from the dams and have to purify it to make it good for human consumption. He believed that, an equitable share as to be considered, it is not sufficient even if it can be increased at this stage.

There were representatives from numerous municipalities within the district.

Mafikeng local Municipality:

Mr Henry Smith represented the Mafikeng local municipality. He suggested that, the local government department need to give equitable share to district municipalities, which have no infrastructure at this stage. Municipalities lack information, which inhibits their service to communities. They have however, be able to provide water to the indigent from 1 July 2003. This includes everyone in the community.

Setlakgolo Municipality:

This serves a community of seasonal workers, who work in the neigbouring farms and therefore has a high rate of unemployment. Communities are therefore unable to pay for the service provided.

He suggested that the equity share stipulated needs to be reviewed. A feasibility study needs to be done before a budget is drawn. At the moment the municipality charges R4,00/kl. The municipality is providing the community with free basic water except the business communities.

Tswaing Municipality:

They also lamented that, the equitable share needs to be reviewed. They service a community that 70 % rural. They charge R7,00 p.m. for water. Planning is important as at the moment, Botshelo Water is not providing the service.

Ditsobotla Municipality:

The municipality is able to provide free basic water, mostly in the urban areas, like Lichtenburg town. Water for the indigent is also available. He also recommended that, the equitable share needs to be increased.

Mr Kgomo, a member of the Central District Municipality mayoral committee, felt that, it is important that the municipality be clarified on the role of Botshelo Water in supplying water.

The Central District municipality manager, Mr Mosimane, indicated that even though the district services five municipalities, only Tswaing is able to provide water service to its communities. This then reinforces the areas in which Botshelo Water operates.

He indicated that, at the moment, they are appealing section 78 of the Act. This then means that, until the review of the act takes place, Botshelo Water as the main service provider will continue providing water.

SITE VISIT TO THE MMABATHO PERI-URBAN PROJECT:

Mr Stoffel Seodisa, who is an engineer for the Botshelo Water Board, did the presentation at the site.

He indicated that there have been prepaid meters installed to regulate water consumption. Botshelo Water has been able to involve the community in any decision making regarding the provision of water to the affected community.

The delegation was concerned about how the prepaid meter system worked. It seemed that, Botshelo Water rates are high. Mr Maimane suggested that, the executive mayor provide the committee with information related to this. This is to be sent through to the committee.

05 AUGUST 2003:

MEETING WITH THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY AND KLERKSDORP LOCAL MUNICIPALITY (D 40):

The executive mayor Mr Matshidiso Dikoko hosted the delegation. He indicated the areas that fall within the jurisdiction of the Southern District Municipality, which include, Klerksdorp, Orkney and Stilfontein local municipalities, which then include the neighoburing farms. He mentioned that, the North-west Province consists of 29 municipalities. 21 Local municipalities and 4 district municipalities. Five (5) of this are cross-boundary municipalities e.g. Bojanala which includes Rustenburg and Bophirima, which includes Vryburg. Most of the municipalities have amalgamated, e.g. Klerksdorp consists of Stilfontein, Orkney and Haartebeesfontein (Tigane). Makwassie consists of Leeudoornstad, Wolmanranstad and Makwassie. Two (2) municipalities are on their own, namely, Ventersdorp and Potchefstroom. The Southern District, has a population of 1 million, according to the 1996 population census.

The Chairperson of the committee, who was leading the delegation, allowed members of the delegation to raise concerns about the water services delivery, namely,

  • What are the district municipalities experiences regarding the free basic water policy?
  • Leakages and water credit system?
  • Viability of partnerships (Municipalities, water boards and communities)
  • The transfer of water schemes started on 1 July 2003, how is the policy review process impacting or district municipalities affecting delivery of service?
  • How is the amendment of legislation going to affect water service delivery?

- Are the problems related to the capacity of the various role players

  • What are the problems related to water extracted from boreholes?

CHALLENGES:

The executive Mayor, Mr Matshidiso Dikoko, stated that, the main challenge to his municipality is poverty allievation. Orkney and Klerksdorp, which is 83% of the population is highly urbanized, whilst 17% relies on commercial farming for survival.

Orkney has one of the biggest gold producing mining companies, yet this gold is refined in Gauteng. Bophirima council has one of the largest beef production companies, it produces +/- 6 000 cattle which are then processed at the City Deep abbatoir in Gauteng. Makwassie produces diamonds, which are then processed elsewhere, living it still impoverished.

He believes that, the district municipality is faced with high level of poverty as they end up as consumers of goods that they produced all because they were processed elsewhere.

It is with these challenges in mind, that, he has requested a meeting with the PC on Minerals and Energy so that, a system can be put in place which will enable Southern District Council to retain whatever goods that it produces, to be processed and sold within the region. In this way, more jobs will be created and the economy of the region and of the province will grow.

There is a high level of migration of the population to other municipalities, due to the incentives of free plots for RDP housing with water and electricity. Migration also to Gauteng, which is highly urbanized and therefore makes living easier.

The regional services councils were established in 1987, even though the relationship with the town councils/or district councils is cordial the roles of each need to be clarified.

The water services Act needs to be modified to gel with Structures Act, especially section 83 and 84.

In certain instances, there are contradictions between the legislation drafted by the department of Water Affairs and Forestry and that of Provincial and local government.

The district council will going into partnership with local communities and the water services providers, namely Midvaal water company. Needs to see how this is going to play out. The water company purifies and stores the water supply sends it through to municipalities to distribute.

At the moment there are tensions within the district municipalities and certain local councils. Roles and responsilibities have not been clearly defined as in certain instances the local councils claim autonomy yet depend on the district councils for salaries, and maintenance of its equipment. There is differentiation in terms of level of control. These need to be clearly defined.

There are five (5) municipalities and three (3) executive mayors (Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp and Orkney) and this is not an acceptable, as it creates a confusion of roles. Councils within the district councils are interdependent/and interrelated to one another whilst also autonomous. This situation is confusing at times.

He suggested that it is important that the playing fields are leveled. Since local councils and district municipalities offer a variety of services, it is important that they have a very good relationship with the various national departments. For example, the working relationship with the department of Provincial and Local government is good yet it is not so with the department of health. The national health department excludes councils in decision-making yet expects the councils to deliver services on its behalf. The national government always communicates with local councils through the provincial government, this is problematic as it delays the process of service delivery. It would be better if in certain instances the provincial government is bypassed.

The various departments need to communicate with each other and bring each other on board so that they are united in delivering the relevant service. It is important that all the role-players at the various levels understand what each others aims are so that they compliment each other as there are working toward a common goal.

The long-term goal is to reduce the number of the existing 53 municipalities.

The district council is faced with the task of rehabilitating dams even were in certain instance, the council cannot identify who the owner of the dam is. This creates problems as no one then wants to take responsibility especially because this has financial implications.

The district council believes that, most of its problems regarding water services delivery can be solved if the councils become the water services authority as they can be able to facilitate the process and ensure uniformity of tariffs, for example. At the moment the district councils do not have the authority on negotiating the tariffs yet have to implement the payment of services.

ACHIEVEMENTS:

The Southern District Munipality is able to provide the free basic water as prescribed even to highly urbanized areas like Klerksdorp.

72 % of households have sanitation but the remainder is still using the bucket system. Potchefstroom is 80 % waterborne. Klerksdorp 70 % and Makwassie Hill 80 %. The district municipality is generally doing well.

The various councils represented in the meeting, stated that they have established a working relationship with the communities they are servicing. Through ward committees they are able to involved the communities in the decision making process of what affects them, namely payment of services like water and electricity. They are able to from time to time educate their constituencies on what their responsibilities are.

Councils are forever, faced with the challenge of non-payment of services due to the high-level of unemployment which in some instances was created by the closure of mines, which led to retrenchment of workforce.

The Klerksdorp council has however deviced system of providing services to its communities even though their resources are limited.

MIDVAAL WATER COMPANY:

This is the main water services provider in the district. This is a section 21 company so its main challenge is to being able to provide water services to the area whilst being able to sustain itself.

The Midvaal water company, general manager, Mr R U Khan, outlined the role his company plays in water services delivery. He stated that, the Midvaal water company plant, was built to produce 250 mgl/d and consumption level from this service is now about 48%. When the plant was initially built, it was providing for the mines now it is the main service provider for the Klerksdorp municipality. Its production capacity has been affected by the closure of mines due to the drop in the gold price. The business and mining communities consume and equal amount as the household dwellings.

The company has been able to supply free basic services since 18 September 1998. There are however, three (3) other different water services providers in the district. As already indicated Midvaal water company services Klerksdorp municipality, whilst Sedibeng services Makwassie Hill, Potchefstroom gets its supply through Potchefstroom. Ventersdorp has its own plant. Each plant sets its own tariffs, e.g. Venterdorp charges R0,19/l, Potchefstroom R1,99/l, Midvaal R2,19 and Makwassie R3,68/l. This impacts negatively on consumers and therefore on municipalities who have to charge for the services rendered.

In Klerksdorp, indigents are only given 6kl of water. Potchefstroom gives 10kl to all its households, Klerksdorp 6kl supplies 6kl. Makwassie gives 6kl, it initially supplied to all its households now it only supplies to its indigent households. It is therefore important that, the pricing is regulated and standardized.

The water company stated that, they test the quality of the water from the boreholes to ensure that its standard and quality is acceptable.

The company believes that, even though they are a section 21 company (non-profit company their finances are strong as they are able to keep their overheads low.

The delegation on realizing the challenges facing the district councils especially regarding jurisdiction, requested the district council to sent the committee and written submission regarding the powers and responsibilities of the district councils.

SITE VISIT TO THE SANITATION PROJECT IN THE INFORMAL SETTLEMENT IN KLERKSDORP:

Mr Jan Herholdt, deputy manager in civil engineering department, led the site visit. The purpose was to go and see the VIP latrine and how this function:

He stated that, the council has up to thus far built 16 such units in the informal settlements. Eight (8) units in Kanana and eight (8) units in Klerksdorp.

He explained how the toilets work. It is a 30l tanks and has a retention period of 40 flashes. Since this is a pilot project, they are going to be monitoring it for the next six months. The visit the sites on a weekly basis. The residents in the project are now being supplied with toilet paper since the chemical used in the sewerage disposal is sensitive to any other material being flushed down the toilets.

The households who are participating in the pilot project, are taught on how the toilets work, especially about the type of paper to be used in the toilets as any things else other than toilet paper, clogs the system.

08 AUGUST 2003:

HAARTEBEESPOORT DAM:

Since the area covered by the dam covers both the Gauteng and North-west provinces, departmental officials from both regions participated in the proceedings. It is a cross-border area. Gauteng province however, through the regional director, Mr Smith, was mainly responsible for all the activities.

Haartebeespoort dam is built around Magaliespark lodge. The Magaliespark residents are the main custodians of the dam. It is a privately owned company with +/- 10 000 shareholders. At the moment there is a residential development around the dam, the West Lake residential complex.

It was clear at the onset that, the main challenge facing the Haartebeespoort community is the condition of the dam which is affecting business in the area especially the Lodge, which has been losing clients because of the stench that comes from the dam which is brought about by the algae built-up in the dam. Even though the water is being treated and there is some improvement, a lot of work still needs to be done.

CHALLENGES:

The main challenge facing all the stakeholders involved in the rehabilitation of the hartebeespoort dam. The department indicated that, R4 - R6 million will be required to bring the condition and quality of the dam to an acceptable standard.

Water catchment agencies need to be established as these will participated in the water quality management process and monitor the dam on an on-going basis. This will definitely take a while.

SITE VISIT OF THE HAARTEBEESPOORT DAM:

The committee was undertook on a site visit of the dam by boat. It was a real eye sore. The algae in the water was said to be about 30 cm thick. The department of water affairs Gauten regional director, Mr Hennie Smith conceded that, its the first time ever that the dam has had so much algae in winter. The algae were about 30cm thick. In certain areas it was so thick that it one would actually mistake it for human faeces. The stench was really unbearable. The dam in its present state is definitely a health hazard, especially to communities living in the surrounding areas. One thing that was clear though, was that, all the stakeholders (in this instance include, the local council, resident rate payers association and department both regional and national) affected by the existence of the dam, were involved in trying to bring it to its former glorious state. It was just difficult for one to comprehend how the dam came to be in such a terrible state.

07 AUGUST 2003:

GAUTENG PROVINCE:

Before the delegation went to meet with the Water boards and district council in the Vaal region, the Gauteng regional Director, Mr Hennie Smith briefed the delegation on the state of affairs of water and sanitation service delivery in the area. He gave an outline of the water delivery service of the Vaal River, which actually feeds almost all of the dams in the other provinces within the country. Most of the other small dams, feed off the Vaal River. This showed the important of the Vaal in the water system countrywide.

MEETING WITH THE SEDIBENG DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY, THE RAND WATER BOARD AND THE METSI A LEKOA WATER COMPANY HELD AT THE VAAL TEKNORAMA CENTRE IN VEREENIGING:

The executive mayor of the Sedibeng district municipality, Mr Peter Skosana hosted the delegation. He stated the Sedibeng district municipality, is made out of three (3) local municipalities, namely Emfuleni, Lesedi (which includes Heidelberg) and Midvaal. Emfuleni is the biggest of three municipalities. The population of the Sedibeng district Municipality is quite large as it consists of Lesedi (+/- 58 0000), Midvaal (+/- 285 000) and Emfulen (+/- 1,2 million).

CHALLENGES:

The biggest challenge for the district municipality is the upgrading or total replacement of the Emvuleni water and sanitation infrastructures which is very outdated and equipment is also very old and therefore worn out. There is a need for financial injection to achieve this.

Upgrade of the Rietspruit water care works is crucial. The Sebokeng township still need to be developed further, more housing units needed.

They believe that, one way of solving their problem would be to decommission and close down the sewerage plant in Meyerton.

The Kliprivier is polluted due to waste coming from Ekruleni Metro Council in the East Rand. An intermunicipality forum has been formed so that a policy can be formulated which will help in the management of the Lesedi Municipality which seemed to be a cross-border municipality, combining the Vaal and East Rand regions.

ACHIEVEMENTS:

The district municipality has however, even with the limitations is able to provide water services to its communities.

METSI A LEKOA WATER COMPANY:

Metsi a Lekoa, is a section 21 company established in 1997 to provide water and sanitation service to the Lekoa-Vaal metro council.

Mr Sam Shabalala acting chief executive represented Metsi a lekoa.

In 2000, Metsi a lekoa established a public/public partnership, which indicates the capability of public communities in providing for water services. The vision the company is see the public sector compete with the private sector in the provision of water in Vaal/Lekoa region.

CHALLENGES:

Mr Shabalala stated that, the key challenge for his company at the moment, is section 77 and 78 of the Municipal Systems Act, his needs to be reviewed.

ACHIEVEMENTS:

The company is jointly owned by Emfuleni (66%), Sedibeng District Municipality (5 %) and Rand Water Board (29%). The labour representative structures like SAMWU have also been involved in the process of establishing a private/public partnership company along the same line as the Johannesburg Water Company. The process up to thus far is running smoothly.

The communities as partners are encouraged to be self-reliant.

THE RAND WATER BOARD:

The Rand Water Board is this year celebrating its centenary since its establishment. Presentation was done by Mr Simo Lushaba, who is the Chief Executive and Ms Nomzamo Ntuli, the group cooperate affairs manager.

The Rand Water Board has the municipalities and labour organizations as its shareholders. Its board of directors is made of the representatives of the municipalities and communities services as well as the Rand water board officials. Directors, however, do not an a dividend of the "profits" or a salary but mainly contribute their expertise to ensure the viability of the company. There is a separation of rights and responsibilities of the "shareholders".

CHALLENGES:

There is still a high level of water that they cannot account for which is being used. They have not been able to bill for its use. There is still a high level of non-payment for the water service provided.

The consumers' payment level is at present at about 48 %. The culture of non-payment for services still needs to be eradicated.

The water tariff is going to increase by 9,4 %, the board has no control over this increase as this is influenced by other external factor.

In 1997/1998 the tariffs increased due to the commissioning of the Lesotho Highlands water scheme.

ACHIEVEMENTS:

The board is able to deliver the water, which is then distributed by the water services authority, in this instance, council. The board is still able to access raw water at a relatively low tariff,i.e. R2,50.

Meeting has been held regularly with the council and communities to consult on the delivery and payment for services.

Even though pit toilet system is still in place, a programme has been established to eradicate the system over time.

The focus is always to supply the consumer at a very low cost.

WINTERVELDT SANITATION PROJECT:

Mr David Kadd did the presentation of the sanitation project.

He demonstrated the viability of the new sanitation project, in the informal dwelling, which are the Ventilated Improved Pit latrines (VIPs).

He mentioned that about 80 % of the population is now using this system. His project has now even involved the community in other projects, hence primary school children were able to design a T-shirt.

CHALLENGES:

The main one being the implementation of the maintenance of the system by the communities involved. It is crucial that people's behaviour in terms of usage of the sanitation system be changed. The subsidy received on this is fixed and it there impacts on the service provider.

SITE VISIT TO THE SUIKERBOSCH PLANT:

A site visit to the Suikerbosch plant was undertaken. The focus being the water catchment areas. The problem here was also in dealing with the algae formed due to waste deposited into the dam. This however, is still management unlike in Haartebeespoort dam were matters were left to get out of control for some time before an intervention by the national department.

SITE VISIT TO THE LEUKUIL PURIFICATION PLANT:

A visit to the water purification plant was undertaken. Departmental officials stated that, they visit the plant on a weekly basis to monitor the purification system and check if it is at acceptable standards.

07 AUGUST 2003:

JOHANNESBURG WATER

Mr Anthony Still, executive director of the Johannesburg water company gave the delegation an overview of the company. He mentioned that, the company is independently run even though, it is wholly owned my the Johannesburg Metro Council. It consists of five (5) areas. The company was previously a fragmented one.

As already indicated, the Johannesburg Metro Council is the sole owner and shareholder. A contract management unit is used by the council to regulate the company. The regional department formulates guidelines and economic regulations.

ACHIEVEMENTS:

All the stakeholders seem on board in terms of the running of the company. Communities seem able to understand their responsibility in terms of, payment for services rendered like water and electricity. Communities, through their community forums are always involved in the decision-making process were it affects them.

SITE VISIT ORANGE FARM:

The delegation met with some members of the community. It was clear in the meeting that, the Johannesburg Water Company, has a very good working relationship with the communities it is servicing. The community is appreciative of the improvement in their living conditions, especially the establishment of the Ventilated Improved Pit latrines (VIPs). The liaise with the community officer from the water company on a daily basis. The community also understands its responsibilities in relation to payment of services, through the prepaid water meter system and electricity.

SITE VISIT TO ENNERDALE INFORMAL SETTLEMENT:

This informal settlement has been in existence since 1980. The delegation held a meeting with members of the community who had the executive of their community forum present to articulate their concerns.

At the moment, the community is not happy about being relocated to a new area were infrastructure can be layed. They would prefer it if the present area is developed as it is near most of their workplaces.

They are happy with the developments that Johannesburg Water has undertaken within its community thus far.

THE YOUTH WATER PRIZE MINISTERIAL EVENT HELD AT ST THERESA'S MERCY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS IN ROSEBANK

The committee had the priviledge of attending the youth water prize giving event held at the St Theresa's Mercy school for girls in Rosebank, Johannesburg. The host for the delegation was Ms Yolisa Tyantsi who was responsible for organizing the project.

The Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, Mr Ronnie Kasrils awarded the prizes. The overall winner of the prize was Ms Claire Reid, a grade 12 pupil at St Theresa' Mercy School for girls. She also went to represent the South African youth at the international water event run by the United Nation in Stockholm, Sweden were she still became the winner of the first prize (This appeared on television). She has really put South Africa amongst nations to be reckoned with. She was able to demonstrate the depth within the youth of our country, which I believe just needs to be tapped into.

THE ALEXANDER URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT:

The delegation was able to visit the district seven of the Johannesburg Metro council, in Wynberg, Johannesburg, which includes Alexander Township. The director of the region 7 Mr Blake Mosley Lefatola hosted the delegation.

Mr Lefatola, explained the importance of the project in reviving the economy of Alexander and Johannesburg as a whole especially since Alexander is neighbouring one of the most affluent cities in the country, Sandton which houses important organizations like the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.

SITE VISIT OF ALEXANDER TOWNSHIP:

The delegation was taken on a site visit of Alexander, particularly were the urban renewal project is taking place. The delegation visited the library, were they were shown a miniature specimen of the suburb. How it will look like once it is complete. Landmark area like London Road, Jukskei River, the hostel, graveyard were visited.

MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY HELD AT THE OFFICES OF THE REGION 7 COUNCIL:

The delegation held a meeting with members of the community in the hall of the council.

It was a very fruitful and enlightening meeting. The community was able to demonstrate through their questions and comments to the delegation that, they are very proud of their place, Alexander and would really like to see it getting back to its former glorious self.

The demonstrated that, they want to take responsibility of what happens in their area such that, they were able to raise concerns about the local council and government in general. They felt that:

  • government drafts legislation and does not ensure that, the people who will be affected most my this understand its implication.
  • Even were legislation existing, the government does not implement it, for example, penalties as prescribed in municipality bylaws about issues such as illegal dumping.
  • They felt that, it was important that communities uunderstand that they have to pay for services provided like water and electricity.
  • There was a high concern about water wastage created through operation of car wash services, which utilize water that they do not pay for.
  • The community felt that, the government is doing its bit and it is therefore important that the community also know and fulfill their obligations to the government through local councils.

FINDINGS:

One thing that, came out clearly, in all the meetings held with the various local, district councils and municipalities, The local authorities are expected to render a valuable service like water and sanitation, which they pay for, to the main suppliers who are the various water boards/companies whilst they are expected to "render" it free to communities. Some communities still believe in the culture of non-payment.

The government has introduced the concept of free basic water, 6kl per household daily yet they have not been able to bring the councils annual budgets in line with this.

The condition of the Haartebeespoort dam is a course for concern. Immediate intervention by the national department of water affairs should take place.

CONCLUSION:

It is important the various departments that are affected by the water service Act, Act 108 1997, for example, provincial and local government and water affairs and forestry, consult with one another to see how this impacts on their service delivery obligation as informed by the Batho Pele principle. The departments need to co-operate and compliment one another instead of contradicting what each one is envisaging, since, the aim of government as a whole is to render good service to its people.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. The appointment of officers as expected when the new water boards come into existence, as stipulated in the Act, needs to be finalized as soon as possible as this is hindering the functioning of the councils at this stage.
  2. It also creates a confusion in terms of the roles of those involved in the water services provision, namely water board/companies and councils.
  3. The roles of the various councils that have since being merged, namely regional services councils and present district council needs to be clarified, this also included the local councils and district municipalities.
  4. The problem of funding for the councils needs to be looked at before the next financial year.
  5. A set subsidy needs to be formulated to assist the various water boards/companies as at the moment all operate as section 21 companies and are therefore unable to generate income to sustain themselves. Government needs to bridge this gap as these companies render a vary valuable service which seems to be disregarded at the moment. The country and economy depends on the viability of these companies.

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