Engagement with stakeholders on challenges experienced at Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works in Hammanskraal; with Deputy Minister

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

10 September 2019
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson of the Committee said there was a need for a structural and systematic change to the entire South African water value chain, rather than a “Band Aid over cracks approach," especially as there was a realisation that the system was under severe pressure. The majority of municipalities were failing and incapable of delivering on their legislated duty to provide water and sanitation services, and this required looking into. She made these comments after the Hammanskraal Residents’ Forum (HRF) had described their years of trying to convince the City of Tshwane that their water supply was not fit for human consumption. She described as “unfortunate and insensitive” the municipality’s action in placing the onus on its residents -- who were mostly poor and unemployed -- to bring scientific proof that their water supply was polluted.

The HRF described how the City had rejected their claims, saying that they had tested the water samples, and the water supply to Hammanskraal residents was indeed fit and safe for human consumption. However, the HRF had engaged with other stakeholders in a joint water sampling study, and in August last year the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) had provided results with an adverse finding. It was scientifically proved that water supplied by the municipality of Tshwane to the residents of Hammanskraal had traces of e.coli, nitrites, nitrates and other contaminants that were harmful to the human body. This had become a matter of life and death.

The HRF recommended that the Hammanskraal water crisis be declared a disaster, because the water served more than 50 villages and also flowed downstream to the next municipality. The water contamination not only affected the population of Hammanskraal, but other people living beyond Hammanskraal. It was also recommended that enough funds be allocated to upgrade the Rooiwal water treatment plant, rehabilitate the Apies River, dredge the Leeuwkraal Dam and check the underground ageing water infrastructure, as this had supplied the contaminated water for a long period. The Forum was pleased that the Deputy Minister and Portfolio Committee had visited the Rooiwal water treatment plant on 30 August 2019, and trusted that urgent intervention would follow.

The Gauteng provincial Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) said the City of Tshwane water and waste water services’ master plan had not been adhered to and implemented in respect of the infrastructure expansions and upgrades required. Of the 15 wastewater treatment works, only two were operating within the design capacity, and four were in at a critical state -- Rooiwal, Klipgat, Baviaanspoort and Sunderland Ridge. Non-compliant effluent was being discharged into water resources, which then affected the quality of raw water abstracted for drinking purposes. The master plan studies dating as far back as 2004 had indicated the need to accommodate population growth, economic growth and developments, inward migration (employment opportunities), changes in municipal boundaries, ageing infrastructure and pressure points in the system. It described the steps that were now being taken to upgrade the treatment works’ infrastructure.

Members said the situation was concerning, especially in the context of inward migration which affected other big cities like Tshwane. How could Parliament intervene, because communities were yearning for proper service provision? While welcoming the City and the Department’s commitment to work together to remedy the situation, they said more far-reaching actions must be looked at from both a governance and administration perspective to deal with the provision of water and sanitation. There had been a clear lack of forward planning, and it was mind-boggling that the municipality had an infrastructure master plan dating back to 2004 to meet its future requirements, yet this had not been taken into consideration with its implemented programmes. The fact of the matter was that the majority of municipalities were failing and incapable of delivering on their legislated duty to provide water and sanitation services. The Department and the City were instructed to provide regular updates on their interventions.

Meeting report

Hammanskraal Community Forum on contaminated water supply

The Chairperson welcomed all present and requested a round of introductions. The Committee had previously visited Rooiwal and had decided to convene the meeting to invite the Hammanskraal residents and allow them the opportunity to provide evidence in Parliament.

Mr Tumelo Koiteng, Chairperson: Hammanskraal Residents’ Forum (HRF) said he was pleased on behalf of the Hammanskraal residents to be given an opportunity to come and present their case. They had written a report to the Committee on 2 September, to which they had attached correspondence between the HRF and the City of Tshwane that dated back to February 2017. They had also laid a formal complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

HRF was a community-based forum, and was responsible and answered to the members of the Hammanskraal community. They had engaged with the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) when they had difficulty in proving scientifically that the water was not fit for human consumption. OUTA had been the only ones that came to their assistance.

Hammanskraal was about 40 kilometers north of Pretoria (Tshwane), and had more than 50 villages. The villages that fell under the municipality of Tshwane had nine wards, and within those nine wards only two were classified as locations, because all the other wards were villages, so it was semi-rural. There had always been water challenges in Hammanskraal, but the matter had been raised as a concern only in 2011, when the farmers in Rooiwal had laid a complaint and the area was declared a disaster.

Mr Koiteng said that towards the end of 2016, the water supply of Hammanskraal was described as very bad, in that it was brownish-greenish in colour, had a smell of faeces and a funny taste. The HRF had then embarked on a fact-finding mission to investigate the root cause of this, and had found that the water supply to residents was contaminated by the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Plant. This sewer plant was not operating to its full capacity, resulting in waste water flowing into the Apies River, which serves as a source of water for the Hammanskraal residents. The sewer spillage flowed through the Apies River to the Leeuwkraal Dam, which serves as a water catchment area. This contaminated water was then abstracted from the dam to the Temba water purification plant, which supplies water to the residents.

As a result, the human right to quality and affordable water, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, was and still is being trampled upon by the City of Tshwane. This conduct had also had an adverse impact on the environment and livelihood of people relying on the river for business.

In light of this unconstitutional conduct by the City of Tshwane, a community meeting was held which resolved to engage with the municipality of Tshwane. Around 2017, a series of meetings were held with local ward councillors to voice the community’s dissatisfaction with the substandard water being supplied. The first letter was written and submitted to the City of Tshwane on 27 February 2018, and the HRF further made a written complaint to the SAHRC on 22 March 2018. The HRF was eventually invited to a meeting with officials from the office of the Members of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Utility Services on 2 May 2018, where the HRF submitted a water sample, abnormal and inconsistent water bills. It was then resolved that a follow-up meeting would be held.

The follow-up meeting was held on 11 May 2018, where the City of Tshwane officials reported that they had tested the water samples and the result was that the water supply to Hammanskraal residents was fit and safe for human consumption. On the water bill issue, it stated that the data migration from Magalies Water to the City of Tshwane was flawed, and that the municipality relied on estimates to bill the residents.

Based on the unsatisfactory response, the HRF handed over a memorandum of demands on 16 May 2018 to the MMC for Utility Services. The City of Tshwane was given 21 working days to respond, but they did not respond. In the absence of a response, the HRF then embarked on a total shutdown of Hammanskraal from 9 to 11 July 2018, and only then did the City of Tshwane respond. The response stated that the water from the Temba Water Treatment Plant complied 100% with microbiological determinants, according to South African National Standards (SANS) 241: 2015. The final commissioning of the plant was expected by the end July 2018, and it would take approximately three months for the Hammanskraal community to realise a vast improvement in water quality. With regard to the water billing error, they responded that the city would halt all credit control actions that had been executed, eliminate all estimates, and ensure accurate accounts upon finalization. Based on the outcome, the city would initiate a process of correcting the billing errors.

The response from the city was not enough, so HRF had requested a meeting with the municipality. They had met with the former executive mayor, Mr Solly Msimanga, MMC Utility Services on 13 July 2018, where they had repeated the same response. The HRF had made it clear that the water challenges were not with the Temba water treatment plant, but with the Rooiwal water treatment plant, because that was the source that was contaminating the water supply.

There were continuous media statements about the water in Hammanskraal being fit for human consumption, despite the objections. On 20 June 2019, HRF and other stakeholders engaged in a joint water-sampling, and on 5 August 2018 the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) provided results with an adverse finding. It was scientifically proved that water supplied by the municipality of Tshwane to the residents of Hammanskraal was unfit for human consumption, as it had traces of e.coli, nitrites, nitrates and other contaminants that were harmful to the human body. This had become a matter of life and death.

The HRF recommended that the Hammanskraal water crisis be declared a disaster, because the water served more than 50 villages and also flowed downstream to the next municipality. The water contamination not only affected the population of Hammanskraal, but other people living beyond Hammanskraal. It was also recommended that enough funds be allocated to upgrade the Rooiwal water treatment plant, rehabilitate the Apies River, dredge Leeuwkraal Dam and check the underground ageing water infrastructure, as this had supplied the contaminated water for a long period.

It was recommended that there should be a holistic approach to this matter, as that they could not deal only with Rooiwal, but also the Leeuwkraal Dam, to effectively ensure a permanent solution. In the absence of funds, alternative sources of water had to be looked at, since there were two pipelines. The two pipes could be simultaneously extended to the Temba water treatment plant, so perhaps it could assist as an alternative. There were people who relied on the dam for farming and fishing, and there were also animals which were found to be sick from water contamination. The HRF would also endeavor to conduct a study, as it was strongly believed that cases of diarrhea and water-borne diseases in surrounding hospitals could be linked to the Hammanskraal water supply.

Mr Koiteng said the residents of Hammanskraal had welcomed the visit of the Deputy Minister, Mr David Mahlobo, and the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, that had taken place on 30 August 2019 at Rooiwal water treatment plant. They hoped that the visit would lead to a proper and decisive intervention that would yield positive and progressive results for the benefit of the population living downstream of the Apies River.

Gauteng DWS on Rooiwal and Temba treatment plants

Mr Sibusiso Mthembu, Provincial Head: Gauteng Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), took the Committee through a presentation on the Rooiwal waste water and Temba water treatment plants.

He referred to the broader contest of the existing challenges, and said the City of Tshwane water and waste water services’ master plan had not been adhered to and implemented in respect of the infrastructure expansions and upgrades required. Of the 15 wastewater treatment works, only two were operating within the design capacity and four were in at a critical state -- Rooiwal, Klipgat, Baviaanspoort and Sunderland Ridge). Non-compliant effluent was being discharged into water resources, which then affected the quality of raw water abstracted for drinking purposes. The master plan studies dating as far back as 2004 had indicated the need to accommodate population growth, economic growth and developments, inward migration (employment opportunities), changes in municipal boundaries, ageing infrastructure and pressure points in the system.

Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP)

In 2004, the master plan had identified that the plant required 80Ml/d expansion by the year 2019, a further 50 Ml/d by 2024 and an additional 50Ml/d by the year 2034. The plant did not have sufficient capacity to treat the incoming waste water/sewage flow, and was currently overloaded. In terms of the type and strength of the sewage coming to Rooiwal (organic loading), the plant experiences a 70% overload. Regarding the hydraulic flow (amount of water) coming into the plant to be treated (130 million litres per day), the plant experiences an 18% overload, as it can treat only 110 million litres per day. The final treated waste water discharged from the plant into the Apies River does not comply with the set standards, which was a serious non-compliance issue. Treated waste water from Rooiwal WWTP pollutes the Apies River and Leeuwkraal Dam, a source of drinking water to the Temba/Hammanskraal area.

Continuous maintenance work had been done at the Rooiwal plant over time to contain the situation and keep the plant operational. An emergency upgrade had been carried out in 2011 for increased size of flow balancing on module 1 and 3; new sludge dewatering belts at the belt press building; sludge solar dying beds; upgrading of Rooiwal East anaerobic digesters; upgrading of electrical infrastructure and the Dissolved Air Flotation bypass pump station. Human resource capacity was also spruced up, with security personnel being increased from two to 10. To date only one incident had occurred since the increased deployment. A security technologies tender was also being advertised to supplement static guards.

Temba Water Treatment Plant (WTP)

Mr Mthembu said the City of Tshwane had noted periodic water quality failures of the following parameters from Temba WTP: ammonia, phosphates, nitrites, nitrate, colour, taste and odour. Ammonia, nitrate, nitrite and phosphate failures were as a result of the poor raw water quality at the Leeuwkraal Dam resulting from the effluent discharges from Rooiwal WWTW. Continuous maintenance work had been done at Temba WTP over time to contain the situation and keep the plant operational. There had also been temporary dosing of chemicals, such as chlorine dioxide for colour removal and disinfection, potassium permanganate for colour removal, and powdered activated carbon for taste, odour and colour removal. Human resource capacity had been spruced up and security personnel increased from two to four.

Short-term interventions at Rooiwal WTP

Refurbishment work was planned for the Belt Filter Presses (BFPs). The purpose of the BFPs is to dewater the sludge generated from the plant, resulting in a 4% to 18% volume reduction in solids for ease of handling. The sludge can then be beneficiated to an agricultural product. The refurbishment work aims to restore the full functionality of the BFPs, and involves restoration of the mechanical components, dosing system, chemical make-up, electrical components and controls. Availability of belt filter presses would ensure that all sludge produced at the works is dewatered and dried on concrete slabs. This would discontinue flood irrigation of sludge on dedicated lands, curbing groundwater pollution and the possibility of sludge breakage from barrier walls into neighbouring properties. On the timeframes, the top dewatering plant building houses four BFPs, and it is planned that two of the four BFPs will be completed and operational by the end of September 2019, with the rest before the end of December 2019.

Refurbishment work was also planned for the Return Activated Sludge (RAS) screw pumps. The RAS pumps convey thickened activated sludge from the secondary settling tanks to the bioreactor to serve as inoculum for settled sewage entering the bioreactor. The pumps break frequently due to the failure of the bottom bearings. The current refurbishment involves the conversion to a grease bearing, as is applied on other works. Continuous pumping of RAS provides inoculum to the bioreactor at the required rates and prevents a flux failure in the secondary settling tanks. On the timeframes, five of the six RAS pumps had already been repaired, and the rest would be completed before the end September 2019.

On the way forward, the City had developed a maintenance plan for the operation and maintenance of the plant. The maintenance plan is updated weekly on the maintenance/repair work done and new repair work required. Tenders required for maintenance had been identified and some were already in place -- only a few tenders were currently outstanding. R44 million was required to implement the maintenance plan and only R22 million had been allocated for maintenance in the 2019/20 financial year. Therefore additional funding was required for implementation of the Rooiwal WWTP maintenance plan.

Short-term interventions: Rooiwal WWTW Upgrade (Phase 1)

Mr Mthembu said a contractor had been appointed for the project and was expected to start construction on 1 October 2019 at a cost of R290 million for a 36-month period. The scope of work involved upgrading the inlet works at the Rooiwal North Works; the biological reactors mixing and aeration system; the anaerobic digester on the Rooiwal East and West Works; the top sludge dewatering facility; and the Rooiwal North flow balancing tank control systems. Further interventions would involve the connection of a concrete 525 mm diameter pipe between Rooiwal West Works and Rooiwal East Works; construction of a sludge pipeline from the Rooiwal North primary settling tanks to the Rooiwal East Works’ raw sludge pump station; and the installation of additional forced ventilation in the blower building.

The impact of the Rooiwal Phase 1 Upgrade project would be as follows:

  • The construction of additional Primary Settling Tanks would decrease the organic loading on the biological reactors (increase in capacity).
  • The installation of new diffusers would increase the efficiency of oxygen transfer and improve the organic and nitrogen removal (addressing the issue of nitrates and nitrites). 
  • Additional mixers in the biological reactors would improve the mixing to aid nutrient removal.
  • The digestion of activated and primary sludge in an efficient operating system would address the fly breeding and odours which occur from the sludge.  

Long-term interventions: Rooiwal WWTW Extension (Phase 2)

Implementation of Phase 2 of the Rooiwal WWTW project would involve the creation of 80 Ml/d of additional treatment capacity, with associated sludge processing. The project was estimated to cost at least R2 billion. Rehabilitation of the Apies River would be carried out to improve the river and raw water quality. The estimated cost and rehabilitation period would be known once the assessment and investigations were done, which was part of the phase 1 project. The Leeuwkraal Dam would be dredged to remove the sludge that had settled over at least 10 years, at an estimated cost of R120 million over a three-year period. Due to the high cost of the project and unavailability of funding, the City had decided to implement the project as a Public Private Partnership (PPP). The report to embark on a PPP had been approved by the Mayoral Committee, and the specifications for the appointment of a transactional adviser were currently being finalised. The appointment of a transactional advisor was planned to be finalised by end of December 2019. Experience had shown that PPP agreements took a long time to conclude -- often in excess of three years. 

Short-term interventions: Temba Water Treatment Plant and Supply

Mr Mthembu said the eastern part of Hammanskraal was supplied from the Magalies Water (Klipdrift Water Treatment Plant) supply system through the Babelegi Reservoir. The current supplied volume was 22Ml/d, as per the agreement with Magalies Water. The areas supplied include Marokolong, Babelegi Industries, Ramotse and the Moretele area. The western part was supplied from the Rand Water (Soshanguve DD pipeline) supply system. The DD pipeline could supply only Refentse, New Eersterust and extensions. The central parts of Hammanskraal (Sekampaneng, Suurman, Manyeleti, Unit D and Oustad) were being serviced by water tankers for potable use. The water tankers sourced water from Magalies Water (Babelegi reservoir) and Rand Water (Soshanguve DD pipeline).

The cleaning of reservoirs and water networks was carried out from 26 to 28 August 2019. Reservoirs cleaned were Hammanskraal West, Rens Town, Sekampaneng and Babelegi. The purpose was to maintain and improve the water quality supplied to the consumers. Water quality sampling had been conducted and results were awaited. The flushing of the distribution network was planned to take place from 23 September to 4 October 2019. R20 million was required for completion of the upgrade, and R10 million for the deployment of water tankers, although the Department had not received an allocation in the current financial year. An additional R15 million would be required to implement the maintenance plan at Temba Water Treatment Plant, but only R1.4m was available for the 2019/20 financial year.

In conclusion, the combined activities at the Rooiwal WWTW and Temba WTW would enable the sustained provision of drinking water that met the SANS 241 standard to the community in Hammanskraal. In the Babalegi industrial area, maintenance activities would be monitored to ensure equipment availability and reliability. Capital works programmes at the Rooiwal WWTW and Temba WTP would, where possible, be accelerated to realise early completion. The Phase 1 project programme would, where possible, be reprioritised to realise an earlier improvement in the quality of the wastewater effluent from Rooiwal WWTW.

Discussion

Mr M Mashego (ANC) commented on the schematic layout of the water and waste water systems in the City of Tshwane, as outlined in the presentation. Why was the purification plant downstream and the effluent beds upstream, not vice versa? He could not understand why there appeared to be little to no collaboration between the City of Tshwane and the Department, as what had been presented was contradictory. The two must synchronise their approaches.

Ms N Mvana (ANC) said the presentation by the Department was quite congested, and should be unpacked. The action plans did not appear to be implementable in the short-term. There had been no mention of plans to deal with the medical conditions that had arisen in the affected communities owing to the use of contaminated water.

Mr S August (GOOD) asked why the talk about sprucing up the security system was being brought up only now, after losses running into tens of millions of rand. Did the Tshwane municipalities have competent staff to run these water plants, seeing the identified challenges had been ongoing for many years? For 15 years, since 2004, authorities had failed those communities and something had to be done about this. The Department should assess the situation in the rest of the municipalities across the country so that crises could be averted.

Mr M Tseki (ANC) said the situation as highlighted was concerning, especially in the context of inward migration which affected big cities such as Tshwane. The unintended consequence of under-expenditure of capex was collapsing system that was perpetually at the risk level. It was concerning that of the 15 waste water treatment works, only two were operating within design capacity and four were in a critical state. It was unacceptable that South Africa’s capital city spends just over R400 million on water and sanitation capex in a financial year.   

Ms G Tseke (ANC) said the Committee should reach out to the affected communities and give people an update on what was being done to address their concerns. It was encouraging that there seemed to be progress in addressing the challenges. How could Parliament possibly intervene, because the communities were yearning for proper service provision? Were there similar challenges in other municipalities outside Tshwane? The changes in municipal boundaries should not be flagged as an issue and should not be entertained, as SA was led by one government. The Committee would hold the Department to account and undertake its oversight mandate on the basis of the commitments, as presented.

Ms L Arries (EFF) observed that four of the water purification plants in Tshwane were in a critical state. This was worrying, as these very same municipalities were receiving grants meant for infrastructural development and upgrades. The municipal managers had failed these communities and had to be held accountable and taken to task. There might be cases of organised crime at play, and the Committee would want to know if such incidents had been reported to law enforcement agencies. There was a need for radical transformation at these municipalities.

Ms S Mokgotho (EFF) said the cancellation of the chlorine contract without a contingency plan had been reckless and negligent, and had placed the health of the people of Tshwane, especially Hammanskraal, at high risk. She wanted to know if communities in the affected municipalities were getting any feedback, and not being left in limbo on what was being done to address their concerns. 

The Chairperson said the Committee was of the view that there had been clear dereliction of duty on the part of the municipality in its interaction with residents of the city. The community leader had told Members that the city had told them that they must bring scientific evidence to support their claim that the quality of water was not desirable. For a municipality to tell its residents -- who were mostly poor and unemployed -- that they must bring scientific proof was both unfortunate and insensitive. The Committee hoped that the city would use this crisis as a learning curve, and would in future interact better with residents.

The maintenance of the entire water system remained a concern in Tshwane and across the country, and had to be urgently remedied. It was unsustainable that municipalities on average spend less than 10% of their budgets on water and sanitation, especially because of the economic value of water and the health risk associated with water illnesses, and because residents pay for water and sanitation as part of their rates and taxes. That money must be invested into water and sanitation infrastructure programmes. It was also concerning that there had been a general under-spending on capital expenditure by the City of Tshwane in relation to what had been budgeted since the 2008/2009 financial year.

Tshwane’s response

Lesiba Tema, Director: Bulk Water Supply, City of Tshwane, replied that the gravity of situation was well understood, and expressed the city’s clear commitment to implement the turnaround strategy as presented. Over the past ten years, there had been little investment towards water reticulation upgrades and, from a maintenance point of view, this had to be addressed. Members’ concerns had been noted, and reprioritisation would take place. There had been cases of poor planning in some instances, but the commitment to deal it was clear. Forums for engagements with communities to relay the specificities of the plans would be set up.

Mr Stephens Notoane, Group Head: Utility Services, City of Tshwane, said the security element was a challenge not only for the City of Tshwane. There was need for community buy-in to resolve cases of vandalism and theft by identifying syndicates in such acts. He assured the Committee that consequence management was ongoing, and the guidance from Members was appreciated.

On the R20 million worth of equipment that had been stolen, the case had been reported to law enforcement authorities and investigations were underway to ascertain how it had been lost. The need to beef up security systems on site was well understood.

Mr Mbulelo Tshangana, Director-General, DWS, said the need for radical, rather than piecemeal, approaches to deal with the challenges as presented was well-understood. The Department was going back to the drawing board and in doing so, would incorporate Members’ valuable inputs. The City of Tshwane was receiving R1.5 billion from the Department of Human Settlements, so a budget reprioritisation exercise was crucial within municipalities. There was need for a relook into the urban settlements development grant (USDG) funding framework. Everything had to be done properly, not just for compliance purposes. The majority of municipalities were struggling to manage their reticulation plants and the statistics were known by the Department. To this end, bilateral visits were being undertaken with Japan on a regular basis to facilitate skills transfer and knowledge-sharing. There was need for brutal honesty on the part of all the stakeholders involved. Pollution was symptomatic of capacity constraints, and there was a need for leadership. The Committee’s proposals were clear, and dealing with the institutional part of the matrix was critical.

Mr Abel Tau, Municipal Manager: Utility Services, City of Tshwane, said the city was under no illusion about what needed to be done. Appearing before the Committee and outlining all the commitments as presented had not been a tick-box exercise. There were real efforts to deal with the challenges, historic as they may be. The challenges in the identified areas should not be politicised. All available resources would be dedicated towards the challenges so that they were addressed decisively. Dereliction of duty on the part of some individuals was being taken seriously, and there would be consequence management. Culpability had to be located. The expertise was there at the city’s disposal -- men and women dedicated to their work. He agreed that engaging people on the ground was important. Communities needed to be taken into confidence and this had to be amplified. Public representatives needed to account to their constituencies.

Deputy Minister Mahlobo said there had been difficulties of cooperation previously, but the sticky issues had been ironed out. There had been a time when some stakeholders were being ignored and could not be party to efforts towards dealing with the crisis. However, it was encouraging that everyone was now on board and making efforts towards a lasting solution to the problems. The City had to take a decision to spruce up its capacity, as it was lacking on some fronts. Clearly, technical expertise was lacking in some areas. On the question of implementation of the plans, the crux would be the capability transition. He added that professionals and technical people in the affected municipalities had to be held accountable.

The Chairperson said the Committee’s intervention was warranted, as this had been a crisis situation which could cost people lives. The Department was expected to compile a report identifying municipalities in a similar predicament across the country. Interventions must be meaningful. The clear lack of forward planning by the City of Tshwane as a water services authority and the Department was a concern that needed urgent attention. It boggles one’s mind why the municipality in 2004 had a master-plan that indicated that infrastructure expenditure had to take into consideration --population growth, economic growth and development, ageing infrastructure and pressure points in the system -- yet no plans had been implemented to take those items into consideration in their programmes.

While the Committee welcomed the commitment by the City and the Department to work together to remedy the situation, it was of the view that more far-reaching actions had to be looked at from both a governance and administration perspective to deal with issues of water and sanitation provision. The fact of the matter was that the majority of municipalities were failing and incapable of delivering on their legislated duty to provide services, and this required looking into. There was a need for a structural and systematic change to the entire water value chain, rather than a “Band Aid over cracks approach", especially because there was a realisation that the system was under severe pressure. Despite Members’ vexation with the matter, the assurance that the chlorine was now in place to treat the water before it made its way into the Apies River was welcome.

She instructed the Department and the City to provide regular updates on the interventions.

The meeting was adjourned.

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