A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY
20 June 2006
WATER QUALITY AND WATER SECURITY: PUBLIC HEARINGS
Chairperson: Ms C September (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs (DALA) presentation
Department of Education (DOE) presentation
Water Research Commission presentation
Applying the World Commission on Dams Report in South Africa
Four DWAF Pamphlets on Water Issues
State of Rivers Report: Olifants / Doring and Sandveld Rivers 2006
The Committee heard various submissions from the Department and on the status of water quality in South Africa. The Department elaborated on the decline of water quality in some areas of South Africa.
The Committee asked questions on the sanitation in South African schools, how the Department intended to avoid future declines in water quality, what mechanisms were in place to monitor water quality, and on irrigation and agricultural use of water.
Ms Barbara Schreiner (Chief Director, Water Use and Conservation, Department of Water Affairs) explained to the Committee that the drinking water quality survey of 2005 indicated that only 58 percent of municipalities were monitoring drinking water quality. However, in 2006, 85 percent of municipalities claimed that they were now monitoring drinking water quality. She added that the implementation of the drinking water quality regulation system would replace the annual drinking water quality survey and that would make more reliable information available to the public.
Mr G Mackintosh (Managing Director, Emanti) pointed out that there existed a need for “one view” that adequately conveyed the status of water systems to different stakeholders. He added that the roll out of Emanti Management's Water Quality Management System (eWQMS) to all Water Services Authorities (WSA’s) would help advance such an endeavour.
Dr M Claassen (Environmentek , CSIR) pointed out that the CSIR was involved in areas such as data collection and the development of monitoring programmes and the development of guidelines for monitoring programmes. He explained that the CSIR had about 40 researchers working around the issue of water resources, and that the organisation had 55 researchers who were conducting research work around the issue of pollution and waste.
Mr G Offringa (Research Manager, Water Research Council) explained that his organisation funded research on all aspects of water. He pointed out that the WRC spent about R9-million a year on water quality related projects. He added that through these projects the WRC engaged stakeholders and partners in solving water-related problems.
Ms L Greeff (Environmental Monitoring Group) elaborated that the planning approach with regards to the construction of new dams did not consider the options’ assessment in an attempt to find the best use of water in a water insecure country. She pointed out that about 67 percent of South African water goes on Agriculture, but at the same time, the farming practises in South Africa were inefficient.
Mr Musayi (SALGA) explained that one of the challenges faced by WSAs with regards to drinking water quality was that there was a lack of understanding of legislative requirements, drinking water quality standards, and the requirements for effective water management.
Ms L Moyane (Chief Director: General Education and Training, DOE) pointed out that in the Natural Sciences under outcome one of the National Curriculum, it stated that: “The learner will be able to act confidently on curiosity about natural phenomena, and to investigate relationships and solve problems in scientific, technological and environmental contexts.”
Dr S Moephuli (Acting Deputy Director-General: Production and Resources Management, DALA) pointed out that to address challenges in the agricultural sector, there were irrigation schemes for new black farmers in place, and that there was a need to rehabilitate the existing irrigation schemes.
(See documents above for full submissions)
DWAF and Emanti Management
Mr J Arendse (ANC) asked if there were problems with regard to water quality and monitoring and enforcement areas that needed changes in legislation so as to facilitate DWAF’s project to provide the public with good quality water.
Ms Schreiner explained that the real challenges were not around legislative problems but rather around the issue of the lack of capacity and ensuring that proper budgeting was taking place.
Ms S Maine (ANC) asked what DWAF was doing to make sure that Bloemhof and Vryburg did not experience water problems in the future. Further, she asked DWAF to explain what the problem had previously been.
Mr L Manus (DWAF) explained that in Bloemhof there had been a situation in which the residents complained that the drinking water quality tasted bad and was visibly dirty. He added that research done following the complaints revealed that the reservoir in the area was not properly secured and that was the reason behind the dirt in the water. He pointed out that Water Affairs had intervened and reservoir had to be cleaned.
Ms S Sigcau (UDM) asked if there were mechanisms in place to monitor if municipalities were providing good quality water to the public. Further, she asked what mechanisms were being developed to guarantee water safety in rural areas.
Mr Manus explained that DWAF had developed tools for municipalities to assess if the quality of water provided to local communities was of good quality. He pointed out that this had resulted in an increase of municipalities monitoring the quality of drinking water.
Ms Sigcau wondered who was responsible for providing sanitation in public schools in rural areas. She added that she was asking because some schools in rural areas had no sanitation.
Ms Schreiner explained that the provincial department of education was responsible for providing sanitation in schools. However, she pointed out that DWAF had been working closely with the provincial department of education in an attempt to support the department and promote the delivery of sanitation in schools.
Mr Ditshetelo asked for DWAF’s reaction to the statement that “the lack of capacity in local municipalities has resulted in some of the water quality requirements being sacrificed.”
Mr Mackintosh explained that if the question to that statement was to find out if local municipalities had been capacitated, the answer would be that local municipalities had still to be capacitated.
Ms Schreiner added that the process of building capacity in local municipalities was going to take a long time, mainly because the process of building capacity involved training people and the process of training people was generally a long-term process.
The Chairperson pointed out that the Committee was interested in finding out if there was sufficient consensus in South Africa on what the concept of good quality water meant. Further, she enquired as to the need for the improvement of water quality, and if the improvement of water quality meant improving water intended for consumption or if that included raw water as well.
Ms Schreiner explained that when DWAF spoke of reticulated water in municipal systems they were aiming at drinking water quality. She added that there had been a lot of discussions regarding this kind of water being used to flush toilets. She explained that this was unnecessary; however, the complexities and the costs of moving to a system in which there were two reticulation systems, one providing drinking water and the other one providing non-drinking water, had not been considered feasible.
The Chairperson pointed out that the Committee had been confronted with legal challenges between different governmental spheres with regard to pollution. She added that consequently different governmental departments had assumed a pattern of blaming each other for pollution. She explained that in most instances local government had been challenged in that aspect. She asked what mechanisms were in place to facilitate better intergovernmental relations.
Mr Mackintosh explained that local government did not fail in most cases because they chose to fail, but rather, local government failed in most cases because they had been set up to fail. He added that local governments failed because they were hampered in some way.
He pointed out that where information was shared across the sector, as happened in the Free State, people combined their efforts to solve their problems. With the roll out of the national drinking water quality management system and framework, there was no effort to make sure that drinking water quality was squarely placed on provincial forums. He added that if drinking water quality was placed on provincial forums, then that would en
able all the role players to contribute towards addressing the problems which arose due to gaps in the ability of the local government to perform its function.
Water Research Commission (WRC) and CSIR
The Chairperson asked what role the CSIR and the WRC were playing in relation to the implementation chapters of the national water resources strategy.
Dr Claassen explained that the national water resources strategy was the blue print for the CSIR research strategy. He added that the CSIR conducted research in support of the national water resources strategy. He pointed out that the CSIR was involved in areas such as data collection and the development of monitoring programmes and the development of guidelines for monitoring programmes.
Ms Maine explained that she was concerned because there was a lot of research work being done, while on the other hand, very few water quality problems were being resolved. She asked what was being done with the information being researched.
Mr Offringa pointed out that the WRC was a research funding organisation. He explained that the WRC assists DWAF in doing whatever research was required within the national water resources strategy.
Dr Claassen explained that through research the CSIR had uncovered a lot of information that was not previously been available. He pointed out that the research had helped the CSIR to identify challenges and problems surrounding drinking water quality, but that did not mean that these were new challenges and new problems, but rather, the challenges were always there but no one knew about them.
Mr Ditshetelo asked both organisations to briefly share with the Committee some of the recommendations they had put forward in their research work with regard to drinking water quality.
Ms Semple asked the WRC to explain why the drinking water quality in the Free State was superior compared to other provinces. She pointed out that the WRC had recommended that other provinces should, like the Free State, establish working teams. She asked how did these teams come to be in the Free State, whom did the teams consist of, and who paid the teams. Ms Semple asked the WRC to explain to the Committee if their recommendation, that other provinces establish similar kinds of teams, had been taken seriously by relevant provinces.
Mr Offringa explained that the WRC wanted to bring their Free State model recommendations to the attention of the Committee, mainly because nothing was being done about it at the moment by relevant provinces. He added that the WRC was hoping that the Committee would assist them in their campaign to get other provinces to adopt the Free State model.
Mr Offringa explained that in the Free State the team model was a joint effort of different departments and consisted of researchers.
The Chairperson pointed out that it was often said that South Africa had the least resources, while South Africa’s population was substantial compared to other countries. She asked if there were any security problems with regard to water posed by such a situation. Further, she wondered if there was enough research work being done around the issue of water security.
Dr Claassen pointed out that according to the research done around the issue of water resources government systems; one of the key factors identified by the CSIR was trans-boundary water resources management. He explained that this term meant that it was not sufficient to manage water effectively in a province or in a country without trans-boundary water resources management.
Ms Sigcau explained that she was concerned about the drinking water quality in the Eastern Cape. She asked what measures were being taken to improve the drinking water quality in that province.
Mr Offringa pointed out that the WRC was a research funding organisation. He explained that the WRC assisted DWAF in doing whatever research was required within the national water resources strategy, and that it was not up to the WRC to implement mechanisms to improve drinking water quality.
Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) and SALGA
Ms Semple pointed out that it was all well to state that there were other budgetary items that required more urgent attention as compared to drinking water quality. She explained that the fact of the matter was that the South African population relied on good quality water. She asked if South Africa could afford not to maintain good quality water for its citizens and if South Africa could afford not to carry out the water testing that were supposed to be done on the regular basis.
Mr Musayi (SALGA) agreed that it was not in the South African government’s best interests to not provide good quality water to the public. He explained that the solution should not come from SALGA, but, instead the solution should come from the water services industry.
The Chairperson asked the EMG to clarify the statement that there was a Minister who stated that “DWAF was planning to build 20 dams in 20 years for R20-billion”. The Chairperson explained that as far as she was concerned it was the media who came up with that statement. She asked the EMG to specify which Minister talked about R20-billion for 20 dams within a period of 20 years.
Ms L Greeff (EMG) explained that the quote was attributed to Minister Sonjika, however, she added that she did not have the detailed references with her at the time. She pointed out that the national water resources strategy spoke of either 19 or 18 dams. She explained that the issue was not around the figures, but rather, the planning approach.
Ms Greeff elaborated that the planning approach did not consider the options assessment in an attempt to find the best use of water in a water insecure country. She pointed out that about 67 percent of South African water went to agriculture, but at the same time, the farming practises in South Africa were inefficient. She added that it was possible to have a better use of the water that South Africa had without building new dams.
The Chairperson pointed out that SALGA was behaving as if South Africa woke up to water quality issues just yesterday. She explained that the Committee would want to be convinced that there was a continuation as far as providing good quality drinking water to the public. She asked SALGA to explain what plans they had in store to fulfil such an endeavour and what timeframe were they operating in.
Mr Musayi explained that if one looked at metros, SALGA had implemented a ten year plan to deal with waste water treatment compliance. He added that, however, it was difficult to see those programmes through without financial backing. And, further, without properly trained staff it was almost impossible to deal with the challenges of actually implementing such programmes.
The Chairperson thanked the presenters and the members of the Committee for attending the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
No related documents
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.