The Committee was briefed by the Department of Water and Sanitation on the 2022 Green Drop Report and work undertaken to date by the anti-pollution task team.
The Deputy Minister said the Green and Blue Drop programme halted in 2013 had been reinstated. This is an attempt to encourage the water users association and municipalities to live up to the ideal of Operation Vulindlela. The municipal wastewater systems identified were very critical, and this has improved significantly. The Anti-Pollution Task Team has been instituted per the Constitution. The task team is for the protection of the environment as a means to tackle economic degradation.
The Department of Water and Sanitation is working with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to ensure mileage in combating water pollution.
The Department reported that it is trying to strengthen its support and intervention to municipalities. To do something different or more radical, the Department has developed a water services improvement programme, which centres through their regional offices. The programme supports and intervenes more systematically in municipalities when noncompliancenoncompliance with minimum norms and standards exists.
Members said that the disbandment of Green and Blue Drop Certification was extremely wrong. However, most municipalities will never get these certifications. Most municipalities are struggling, and their personnel are under-skilled. This, in conjunction with budget constraints, makes it difficult for these municipalities to perform better. The Department must intervene to get these municipalities back on track. The Committee must act unusual to prevent South Africa from driving towards a failed state.
During the presentation, the Committee learned that laboratories are in contract with certain institutions, and this is throughout the country.
Members asked the Department to provide more information on that? Who provides water, and what is their race, gender, etc.? Were they previously disadvantaged, etc.?
The Department officials said that the disbandment of Green & Blue Drop in 2013 has led to deterioration n in terms of environmental and water conservation. Every municipality in the country is struggling with wastewater treatment plants – even those seemingly doing well.
The Committee Secretary announced that the Chairperson, Mr R Mashego (ANC), was not feeling well and would not be chairing the meeting. She asked the Committee Members to elect an acting chairperson.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) was nominated acting Chairperson.
Ms Tseke thanked the Committee for electing her as the acting chairperson. She asked for the adoption of the agenda.
The Committee Members adopted the agenda.
A moment of silence was observed in memory of those who passed on and to pray for Mr Mashego's speedy recovery, as he was hospitalised in the first week of June 2022.
There were apologies from Minister Senzo Mchunu, who had to chair another meeting at 11.
Deputy Minister’s Remarks
Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, introduced her delegation. She relayed her good wishes to Mr Mashego on behalf of her delegation.
The DM said the Green and Blue Drop programme halted in 2013 had been reinstated. This is an attempt to encourage the water users association and municipalities to live up to the ideal of Operation Vulindlela. This decision was made to also tackle social and economic issues and ensure the safety and protection of the environment. The aim is to improve municipalities’ wastewater management. In April 2022, DWS published the long-awaited Green Drop certification report. DWS has regressed to make sure that the Green Report is adhered to.
The municipal wastewater systems that were identified were very critical, and this has improved significantly. The anti-pollution task team has been instituted per the Constitution, and the task team is for the protection of the environment as means to tackle economic degradation.
The National Water Act of 1998 also ensures that the country's water resources are protected and managed, developed, conserved and controlled in a sustainable manner to benefit all the people and ensure the environment is well looked after.
Several things contribute to water pollution, such as wastewater or sewage dumping, oil pollution, and acid rain. These give a challenge towards ecological management and reduction of pollution. When the ecology and ecosystem get damaged, there will be diseases which will emanate, and people will become very vulnerable. This leads to diseases such as cholera, typhoid and waterborne diseases.
DWS is working with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to ensure that there is mileage in all that it is doing, conducting nationwide status checks of what DWS is doing in water waste treatment and the quality of water is up to date.
The Green Drop Report will be published annually. The anti-pollution task team (APTT) will also be giving annual reports and the aim of DWS that the APTT will also serve at the parliamentary level.
Briefing by the Department of Water and Sanitation
Green and Blue Drop Assessment
The Director-General of Water and Sanitation, Dr Sean Phillips, and his team gave a presentation on the result of the Green Drop Report. Dr Phillips said that the Green Drop Report assesses wastewater treatment systems around the country, and it focuses on wastewater. DWS also does a Blue Drop report, which focuses on the clean water provision systems around the country and on the provision of water through reticulation networks, pump stations and water treatment work. DWS also does a No-Drop Report, which focuses on non-revenue water, particularly in municipalities, and how much water is being lost through leakages, and whether revenue is being collected because it should be on the sale of water by municipalities. DWS does these reports as part of a role required by legislation to regulate the Water Services Sector...
Dr Phillips became inaudible due to network challenges.
The three reports enable the assessments of municipalities with these three regulatory instruments. DWS assess against the DWS set standards for the municipalities. This includes an analysis of why the municipalities are not meeting the standards, where they are not, and what they need to do about them. These regulatory assessment tools assist municipalities in improving because they provide them with guidance on what they need to do. The tools are also aimed at assisting the municipalities in facing the problems - in that sense, they also support mechanisms for municipalities.
The Chief Director: Infrastructure Operations, Mr Leonardo Manus, presented the Green Drop Standards Green Drop Results, Green Drop Findings, Blue Drop Programme and the way forward.
Green Drop Certification: Purpose
The Green Drop regulation programme seeks to identify and develop the core competencies required for the sector that, if strengthened, will gradually and sustainably improve the level of wastewater management in South Africa. This incentive-based regulation programme aims to synergise the minimum requirements, world-class standards and best practice, as a new Green Drop standard, to raise the bar for wastewater management in the country and to certify with Green Drop status once 90% compliance is achieved.
The programme is therefore not based upon the results of a limited number of random samples taken, but it evaluates the entire management of wastewater and sanitation services over an audit period of one year. This assists with finding accurate reflections of the overall management of wastewater.
The Green Drop audit criteria is designed to complement the efforts of other government and stakeholder programmes to provide essential information that will inform and confirm commitment and planning by sectoral partners, with the shared objective of achieving functional wastewater systems in the short term and excellence in wastewater management in the longer term.
The Blue and Green Drop certification programme was formed in 2008 as part of Incentive-based Regulation (IBR) by the South African Water Sector. Shortly after, there was an outbreak of waterborne diseases. The drinking water quality management was the priority, and the findings pointed toward poorer wastewater management. Wastewater is the barrier to safe drinking water, which is why the merger was established in 2008 as an alternative form of regulation.
It is not a weaker form but an alternative form of regulation, and it is based on the legal requirement of primary legislation. It helps the ministry source information towards improving performance and set high standards in terms including best practice, national standards and innovation.
Green Drop Certification Standards and Requirements
-Through assessments were done at the inception to ensure excellent and continuous risk management of wastewater while Green Drop is in place.
-This includes capacity management, environmental management, financial management, technical management, and quality compliance.
Green Drop Audit
DWS made a promise in June 2021 to deliver the report by of end March 2022. This has been achieved, and this was done with assistance from 24 Green Drop Audit Panels consisting of three to four members (engineering and scientific specialists).
A total of 144 water services authorities and water service institutions, 850 wastewater systems, additional 115 systems under the Department of Public Works, 30 SOEs and private systems were audited as a result. (See attachment)
Green Drop Results: Municipal Sector
There is a sewer pump station in South Africa in the municipality of iLembe. All systems wastewater systems that fall under one service authority were weighted in terms of signs. Then DWS allocated scores in terms of the global scope for the municipality itself. If the municipality score is less than 31%, wastewater management is in a critical state. A total of 65 municipalities would be found in that state. 39 water service authorities would be in the category of very poor wastewater management. These require targeted intervention by the water service authority to ensure sustainable improvement.
A total of 25 water services authorities are in the category between 50% - 80%, which is an okay wastewater management performance that needs ample room for improvement. Thirteen are in the category of between 80 - 90%, which is good wastewater management. However, some gaps are still being identified towards excellence, which is what they should yearn to. Two municipalities are in the category of excellent waste money management, where the majority of their wastewater treatment works have been managed in the excellent class.
Green Drop Certified Systems: Category of Excellence
This covered the Water Service Authorities (WSAs) that have been certified in the Green Drop Certification.
1. City of Ekurhuleni (Gauteng) scored six out of 17:
- Rondebult (95%)
- Herbet Bickley (94%)
- JP Marais (98%)
- Esther Park (95%)
- Carl Grinding (95%
- Daveyton (99%)
Lesedi Local Municipality (Gauteng) scored one out three:
- Ratanda (92%)
ILembe District (KwaZulu-Natal) scored two out of 12:
- Frasers (95%)
- Shakaskraal (93%)
UMgungundlovu District Municipality (KZN) scored one out of six:
- Cool Air (91%)
Bitou Local Municipality (Western Cape) scored two out of two:
- Plettenberg (93%)
- Kurland (91%)
City of Cape Town (Western Cape) scored four out of 26:
- Green Point Outfall (93%)
- Hout Bay (93%)
- Philadelphia (96%)
- Wesfleur (100%)
Drakenstein Local Municipality (Western Cape) scored one out of five:
- Hermon (93%)
Mossel Bay Local Municipality (Western Cape) had one out of seven:
- Herbertsdale (91%)
Saldanha Bay Local Municipality (Western Cape) scored one out of seven:
- Hopefield (96%)
Witzernberg Local Municipality (Western Cape) scored three out of four:
- Ceres (100%)
- Op die berg (98%)
- Tulbagh (97%)
One private system in Free State, SASOL – Sasolburg System, scored 96%.
Key Green Drop 2022 Findings: Wastewater Management Performance
There was a significant decline from 2009 when the first Green Drop was released.
- There has been a significant decline in Green Drop performance since 2013.
- Three percent of Wastewater Treatment Works had no operational information, making effective wastewater management impossible.
- 334 wastewater systems rated to be in a critical state (39%).
- 22 Systems achieved Green Drop Certification (excellence).
- 30 Wastewater Systems scored between 88 & <90%.
- Larger schemes still present higher levels of performance during the latest audits.
Key Green Drop 2022 Findings: Wastewater Infrastructure Investment
- Several WSIs invested in upgrading wastewater infrastructure yet still fail to meet authorisation requirements.
- During upgrades (construction), the WWTWs are taken out of operation (causing raw sewage discharged).
- Vandalism causes plant and pump stations to be out of service for extended periods.
- A Very Rough Order of Measurement (VROOM) determined that R8.1bn is required to restore functionality of existing municipal wastewater infrastructure.
- Mechanical Cost Estimate: R4, 829b
- Electrical Costs: R1, 329b
- Civil Costs: R1,990b
- For the audit period, municipalities budgeted R7.178bn for Operations and Maintenance; they recorded expenditure of R6.874b for a national wastewater asset base of R72.614b. At a provincial breakdown, the O&M expenditure versus budget ranged from 65% to 103%.
- Through a complex calculation, it was determined that the average cost to treat wastewater (operational costs) is about R8.43/m3, even though the majority of WSAs could not provide a proper breakdown of cost per m3. It was noted that the smaller the treatment output and higher the technology, the higher the unit cost, yet the general lack of information indicates massive under-investment in wastewater operations and maintenance.
- Most WSAs do not have specific energy management plans in place, implying that energy efficiency management is not yet entrenched in the municipal sector, and thus forfeiting potential savings in wastewater operational cost.
Anti-Pollution Task Team (APTT) Progress
This briefing was done by the Coordinator of the Anti-Pollution Task Team of Water and Sanitation. They touched on the legislative mandate of the Anti-Pollution Task Team and some of the key actions and priority matters on the way forward.
The Anti-Pollution Task Team was established in November 2019, and it has 22 members from the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment. The purpose of the APTT is to provide high-level guidance to ensure protection of water resources and identify remedies to mitigate pollution impacts in all water use sectors through overseeing and coordinating pollution management while ensuring the management of pollution in an integrated and sustainable manner – specifically concerning how water quality is protected in DWS.
The APTT will integrate the national and regional water quality management functions.
Importantly, this is not a rapid response task team that will conduct investigations in case of leakages, etc.
Objectives of the Anti-Pollution Task Team
- Dealing with Operational matters focusing on reducing pollution;
- Identifying and assessing the risks that have a potential to pose pollution to the water resources;
- Drafting and ensuring implementation of an anti-pollution management protocol to address the current water quality challenges faced by the country;
- Identifying and assessing the risks that have a potential to pose pollution to the water resources;
- Researching international trends and new developments in pollution management;
- Turnaround interventions for high-risk pollution hotspots and water use pollution activities;
- Identifying/ implementing remedies to mitigate pollution impacts in all water use sectors;
- Engage other organs of state and water users;
- Will ensure that pollution, prevention, management and remediation is done in a coordinated, integrated and sustainable manner;
- Enlist top management support in dealing with pollution.
- Section 24 of the Constitution provides everyone with the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through reasonable legislative and other measures.
- Section 27 states that everyone has the right to access health care services, including reproductive healthcare and sufficient food and water.
- The mandate of the Department of Water and Sanitation is to be service delivery orientated; leading the water sector and enabling partners with knowledge and capacity to ensure that all water services are delivered through the Water Services Act (108 of 1997) and National Water Act (36 of 1998) (NWA).
- The National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998) ensures that the country's water resources are protected, managed, used, developed, conserved and controlled in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all people and the environment. National Water Act chapter four deals with use of water.
- The APTT will, in particular, function under Section 19 of NWA, which deals with prevention and remedying of effects of pollution and section 20, which deals with control of emergency “incidents”.
- An action plan has been drafted (updated annually) to effect the Integrated Water Quality Management Strategy (IWQMS).
- The action plan has eight key tasks and these tasks are in line with the WQM strategy.
- Each task has its own task team leader and task team members to ensure actions in that specific task are implemented.
- The Action Plan has been updated to include the Water and Sanitation Summit commitments/outcomes held on 18-19 February 2022.
- The action plan seeks to give effect to the commitment made by Minister to improve resource water quality (WQ) by 60% within 36 months.
- Anti-Pollution Task Team: monitor and report on listed tasks, engage and involve the water services management branch, establish regional forums for colleagues to develop annual plans to be resourced. Nominate new members for both task teams to be in line with the new structure;
- Provincial Regulation units and (Proto-) CMAs to have catchment-based water quality improvement plans in place by June '22, with a set target of improving water quality by 60% within 36 months (to be developed and monitored through the Regional Water Resource Management (RWRM) forums, compliance to resource quality objectives, reduce discharge of unlawful wastewater by 50%;
- Establish Regional Water Resource Management Forums (Support APTT at Regional Level).
- Meeting with regional officials (operational level) to guide on establishment of the RWRM forums – draft and finalise the regional action plans;
- Once regional action plans have been finalised, they will be sent to Accounting Officer for approval;
- Draft action plan and first RWRM forum meeting are to be held before end of June 2022.
See presentation documents for more details
The Acting Chairperson thanked DWS for the presentation. She welcomed Mr Mashego, who was in the meeting. In his State of the Nation Address, the President said that government is working very hard to revive the Green & Blue Drop Certification programme, which was disbanded in 2014. The work done by DWS in reviving these programmes is applaudable.
The Green Drop Results reflect the poor state of wastewater treatment systems across the country. A total of 334 systems are in a critical state. There is an urgent need for operation and maintenance. At some point, there must be a meeting with National Treasury to see if there could be a readjustment of the budget for costs associated with that. DWS must also provide a plan for how it is collaborating with COGTA to solve the matter of wastewater treatment plants.
Mr L Basson (DA) had three concerns. What is the progress in addressing the pollution of the Wilge River? There is a huge concern around 90% of the Water Treatment Plants under the Department of Public Works, which have a score of 12%. Thirdly, is there any progress on handing over Rooivaal to another board to run that plant?
Ms R Mohlala (EFF) wished Mr Mashego a speedy recovery. She said that the way report is, shows that South Africa is in a state of disaster under the current government. The municipalities’ Green Drop Report is extremely bad. This is because municipalities are failing to maintain the wastewater treatment plants and the water treatment works in most of the municipalities across the country. The question is: over the years, what is the effective implementation of the recommendation of the Green Drop report on improvement in municipalities?
Mr G Hendricks (Al Jama-ah) said that a failed state can be assessed through the quality of drinking water. The Green and Blue Drop Report gives the country's state of affairs. South Africa is not a failed country when it comes to water. “It is not right that we monitor water only out of taps”, he added. Some get water directly from rivers and streams. Water must be monitored there to avoid exclusionary actions towards those who live in rural areas.
He said that he wrote a book, which can be found on Kindle, free of charge, seven years ago while serving as a councillor in the City of Cape Town, which focused on the wastewater treatment plants in Zanflei near Makhaza. The reason for this interest is that a PhD student at the University of Cape Town wrote in their thesis that a water treatment plant, Zanflei, is causing up to one million slow deaths for people living in Khayelitsha. This is a result of poor risk management.
Surprisingly, the Department and the officials do not seek advice from universities in Cape Town. The University of the Western Cape is at the forefront of wastewater management. DWS must not have large water treatment plants, which become impossible to handle. There needs to be a policy decision that water treatment plants must be manageable.
A million rand-research shows that sewage pollution is a concern in South Africa and will be worse than climate change. Research done by Leslie Petrik, a chemistry professor at the University of the Western Cape, indicates that one out of three “Snoek” fish was found to be diseased because of the water pollution caused by sewage. Municipalities and the Department of Public Works pump poorly treated sewage into waterways like rivers, and then it goes to the sea.
He said that he and a team of other experts confronted the Mayor of Cape Town about large water treatment plants. It is a concern that DWS is using ratios and norms to calculate and give responses that are not up to par with world standards, and some might even be from the Stone Age. DWS need norms and standards that are aligned with international standards to produce good quality drinking water.
In Port Alfred, government spent millions of Rands to treat wastewater. However, the people in Port Alfred do not “pull their change” enough so there was nothing to treat. This clearly shows that proper research was not done. It is a huge concern that South Africa will be called a failed state because of drinking water quality. Government needs to start seeking assistance from academics in Cape Town to handle water-related issues.
Mr R Mashego (ANC) thanked the opportunity and said he would not be showing his face as he was in bed. He was very happy to see that Mr Hendricks spoke about the fact that Cape Town does have its flaws. When people think of Cape Town, they tend to think of the urban areas of Cape Town and how excellent they are. This leaves those who stay in township areas ignored and excluded. Cape Town is doing better because of the whites who are working there. This is not necessarily wrong, but these experts must be disseminated nationwide to assist with water challenges. There must be an unusual way of doing things to assist the people of South Africa. If people are dying in Khayelitsha because of drinking water while the City of Cape Town is seen as the best city, what is the point of that?
The disbandment of Green and Blue Drop Certification was extremely wrong. However, most municipalities will never get these certifications. Most municipalities are struggling, and their personnel are under-skilled. This, in conjunction with budget constraints, makes it difficult for these municipalities to perform better. The DWS must intervene to get these municipalities back on track. The PC must act unusual to avoid driving towards a failed state. The DWS must ensure that South Africa is not going that route. The DWS has delegates that were trained academically about water. However, these academics are at a national level when the imperative concerns around water are at the local level. The Green and Blue Drop Reports are appreciated, nonetheless.
The Acting Chairperson said that she hoped that Mr Mashego would speak about the matter of Tongaat. There is a wastewater treatment that was disbanded by water.
Ms C Seoposengwe (ANC) appreciated the presentation. She said that vandalism of assets is a huge concern and might result from “sabotage”. The Intelligence Committee must investigate. The assets of electricity are forever vandalised. If one aspect of electricity gets affected, the whole community suffers from blackouts. The communities need to be educated. The assets in the water sector are also not appreciated. Infrastructure neglect needs to be looked at. There must be infrastructure investments, especially since money is always left, which is sent back to National Treasury. Augmentation must be done as the poor end up suffering the most.
During the presentation, the Committee learned that laboratories are in contract with certain institutions throughout the country. Can the DWS provide more information on that? Who provides water, and what is their race, gender, etc.? Were they previously disadvantaged, etc.?
In an area somewhere, there was a water bust which occurred unusually. That happened again in other areas; it needs to be investigated. One must know if these are natural or if someone is behind these occurrences.
Ms N Sihlwayi (ANC) said she missed some points during the presentations because she struggled with internet connectivity. There are a lot of efforts by DWS to address the challenges on the Green and Blue Drop Report, which must be appreciated. However, one of the weaknesses could be on the Portfolio Committee. The DWS reports of recommendations implemented and interventions made, as suggested by the PC, are coming very late. It took approximately two years to get the report, which the PC suggested as a recommendation in 2020-2021.
She asked how often the PC can receive briefings from the DWS. The presentation makes one think there are effective participation or involvement by DWS partners and even other government departments. Environmental issues have their specific department, but that does not mean that DWS does not have a role? How is the DWS using other departments as a strength in dealing with pollution? The matter of credibility of monitoring. That was a strong tone. How can the monitoring be made more credible? To avoid being disillusioned, how often can the PC get briefings on the matter of pollution? (In IsiXhosa) There will be no mercy spared for those that insist on causing pollution.
(Mostly inaudible due to network challenges)
Responses by DWS
Dr Phillips said that, over time, DWS had issued directives to Tshwane regarding noncompliance with their wastewater treatment works. Tshwane partially addressed some of the directives, but there has not been sufficient improvement yet in the effluent quality from wastewater treatment works. The problem in Tshwane is that poor quality effluent from the wastewater treatment works contaminates the water sources used to provide water to people in Tshwane. This is a serious problem. After the noncompliance directives, DWS initiated several civil actions against the City of Tshwane, which it defended. The City of Tshwane’s defence was based on the view that DWS should be providing them with money to complete the remedial works and rehabilitation of the wastewater treatment works.
The Human Rights Commission gave a directive that DWS should take over the wastewater treatment works. Progress has been made by the City of Tshwane, as indicated on Rooival. There is construction work underway; the expected completion date is October 2022. The City of Tshwane has indicated that it does not have sufficient funds to complete it.
The challenge from DWS is the fiscal framework and the rules governing the grants do not allow the use of grants to fund metropolitan municipalities. They have to use the Urban Development Grant, which the Department of Human Settlements manages for work on their wastewater treatment works.
A letter from National Treasury confirming that they have engaged with the City of Tshwane was obtained by DWS. In the letter, it is said that there is sufficient money in the Urban Development Grants that the money can be obtained from Human Settlements. The money can be used to complete the City of Tshwane wastewater treatment works, including Rooival. DWS is trying to get the court to order the City of Tshwane to use the money for Urban Development Grants.
The implementation of recommendations has not been ineffective, as the results presented by Mr Manus show that the situation has deteriorated since the last Green Drop Report in 2013. However, it must be noted that the Green Drop Report is quite effective in generating competition amongst municipalities. Many municipal officials take it very seriously and try to get a better Green Drop Report. It is effective in that sense, but the bigger picture is that the remedial actions have not been sufficiently effective. There has been a further deterioration that relates to the issue raised by Mr Mashego. There must be an unusual way of doing things to get better results.
DWS is trying to strengthen support and intervention to municipalities to do something different or more radical. DWS has developed a water services improvement programme, which centres through the regional offices. The programme supports and intervenes more systematically in municipalities when it is noncompliance with minimum norms and standards. A presentation on this will be made available to the PC upon request.
Lastly, the comment on vandalism. This is largely theft and DWS commonly says vandalism and theft. The biggest problem is theft and the water and sanitation sector, mostly at the municipal level is particularly affected by theft. Something different needs to be done by government to enhance security around the wastewater treatment works as it is clear that current measures are not effective in reducing this.
Mr Manus continued with the responses and said on the questions about the Department of Public Works, DWS is working with Public Works on smaller projects. The majority of them are in the category of micro. The DWS cannot intervene with assistance in terms of finances because the Department of Public Works is funding this.
The Department has worked with universities on the suggestion made to DWS to work with universities right from the onset. When DWS commenced with the 2005-2007 failures across the country, as a result of the diarrheal outbreaks, it worked with the University of Johannesburg on water quality. This was to help conceptualise the whole process and develop DWS in getting its programmes in place.
The University of Pretoria has a water quality course that is formalised.
The Tshwane University of Technology is the only university in the country that has asked to offer a formal qualification in the form of a B-Tech for the process control, which is water technology. DWS has been working on site with the University of Cape Town, and this relationship emanated from the Water Summit held earlier in 2022.
The contracts are between the water services institutions, municipalities and the laboratories, but DWS has attained information about those laboratories. The Department does not have the details on the composition of the ownership of these laboratories at this point. DWS will package the laboratory information and avail it to the Portfolio Committee Secretariat.
On the question of the frequency of the Green Drop Report: DWS decided to do it every two years in detail, as a request that came in 2011, when DWS did both the Blue Drop and the Green Drop at the same time. DWS has also noted that the smaller municipalities have struggled to go through the rigorous auditing process for both functions. Most of the time, the same people in the management of smaller municipalities are responsible for those activities. That is why DWS decided that it would be done every second year.
DWS is doing a Blue Drop in detail and will report to the PC by the end of March. DWS will also include the No Drop Report in its frequency by the end of March. The briefing will also touch on water conservation and demand management.
DG asked Ms Anet Muir, Director: Compliance Monitoring Institutions, to speak on the Wilge River matter.
Ms Muir said that DWS had a representation meeting in response to the directive issued to the mine. The mine was requested to do further stakeholder engagement, specifically around the clean-up, the rehab and the remediation. The engagements have been done, and the rehab report has been updated accordingly and was submitted to the Department. DWS will issue response letters for the remediation to commence. To confirm, the current shaft levels are being adequately maintained, and there is no discharge from the shaft. The rehab will commence as soon as DWS issues a response letter.
Dr Phillips requested Ms Muir and Mr Manus to answer whether DWS is also monitoring the quality of rivers and streams.
Mr Manus apologised, as he skipped the question unintentionally when responding. He said that DWS has a national monitoring programme on three elements: the national monitoring programme on microbial and the chemical and physical quality of the major rivers and streams around the country.
However, keeping in mind that even though DWS are monitoring these, DWS has taken a key principle decision, which states that all people should receive safe water. Unfortunately, a river will never be able to be treated to comply with the South African standard for drinking water quality. DWS aspires toward the acceptable water standards service for everyone and wants everyone, despite geographics – to have water service because getting water from a stream is not acceptable.
The Acting Chairperson noted that there was one question which was not answered.
Dr Phillips responded and said that DWS does have Rand Water as its implementing agent for the Vaal water intervention. One part of the work is to prevent pipe leakages and sewage spillage in the area. There are contractors on the ground, and substantial work is done for chemical and electric work. Rand water is doing design work for upgrading the Vaal Water. It is a multi-billion-rand project which will be done over several years.
Deputy Minister Magadzi thanked the opportunity to give her closing remarks. She said that all the matters that Members raised are extremely important and very close to the Ministry's heart. There will be frequent updates on progress. The communities must be educated on the challenges posed by pollution, including climate change. When the communities are educated, it will be easy to combat ecological challenges. The DWS works with the universities and Water Research Commission to ensure that the work is done through reliable scientific knowledge.
Deputy Minister David Mahlobo welcomed the inputs that Portfolio Committee Members have made. The contribution is welcomed. The DWS has kept its promises. The Department has presented these reports and is committed to reviving the Blue and Green Drop. The disbandment took place in 2013, and the PC pushed to deliver as per the demand from the PC. The DWS delegates did more than 800 audits on wastewater systems. The results obtained through these audits will guide those responsible for improving their operational philosophies. If they can improve their operational philosophy of water management and asset management, that will improve the effluent quality. DWS must admit that it is unhappy with the current wastewater management improvements. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Every municipality in the country is struggling with wastewater treatment plants – even those seemingly doing well. The DWS has not assessed all their wastewater treatment plants.
The anti-pollution task team has been working very hard to build monitoring systems. This is achieved through collaboration with other departments. DWS is pleased to indicate that Cabinet recently has a Mine Water Policy to help hold mines accountable regarding pollution. This removes the liability from the future generation. Water Scientific Group was launched in Cape Town by DWS together with SALGA. This group works with the municipalities and universities. However, there must be more done to strengthen these collaborations. These collaborations have done a lot of work for the country. The Coronavirus (Type Two) was identified through the water with assistance from academic researchers. If the water systems are polluted, the produce will not meet the world health standards to be adhered to.
He said that the DWS delegates had covered matters around vandalism and water leaks. DWS wants to ensure that the environment is not harmful and that no citizen must die from waterborne diseases.
Lastly, every drop being wasted deprives a citizen of the clean and safe drinking water needed.
The Acting Chairperson thanked the Deputy Ministers and the DWS for the briefings. She said that the Portfolio Committee wishes Mr Mashego a speedy recovery.
The meeting was adjourned.
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