ATC141113: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation oversight visit to the Madibeng Local Municipality, North West Province, dated 12 November 2014

Water and Sanitation


This report serves to provide an account of the oversight visit conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation (hereinafter the Portfolio Committee) to the Madibeng Local Municipality, North West, 23 September 2014.

1. Introduction

During the Portfolio Committee’s engagement of the budget vote of the Department of Water and Sanitation (hereinafter the Department), concerns were raised not only around budgetary aspects relating to programme outcomes, but also the manner in which budgets translated to addressing issues (such as pollution, raw sewerage contamination, local water supply and quality, vandalism and theft of water and sanitation infrastructure) that impacted on quality service delivery of water and sanitation services to the citizens of South Africa. The Portfolio Committee, during its deliberations on the matters raised above, noted that the magnitude and extent of the problem was a country-wide concern, and an intervention in the form of a particular site visit as a case study should be undertaken to assess the challenges and resultant impacts on affected communities. A proposal was put forward by the Portfolio Committee that the case study using the state of water and sanitation services in the Madibeng Local Municipality, North West, should form the basis of its findings. The Portfolio Committee argued that this first visit should be strongly underpinned by ongoing site visits to the area in the future to ascertain progress and assess the long-term sustainable solutions required to address the issues.

The Portfolio Committee thereafter made its determinations as to the specific projects that it would visit during this period, and undertook visits to the following sites – Rietfontein Waste Water Treatment Plant, water contamination at Xanadu Estate and Mothutlung Waste Water Treatment Works.

The delegation comprised the following members and staff:


Mr M Johnson (ANC) (Chairperson); Ms J Maluleke (ANC); Mr D Mnguni (ANC); Mr T Makondo (ANC); Ms Bilankulu (ANC); Ms H Kekana (ANC); Mr L Basson (DA); Ms Balindlela (DA); Ms Khawula (EFF); Mr MP Galo (AIC).


Mrs M Solomons (Committee Secretary); Ms S Dawood (Content Advisor); Mr T Manungufala (Committee Researcher); Ms Z Kula (Committee Assistant); Mr S Sithole (Language Practitioner); Mr G.Ntshane (Language Practitioner).


Overview of the Madibeng Local Municipality

The Madibeng Local Municipality is located in the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality within the North West province between the majestic ancient Magaliesberg and the Witwatersrand mountain range. Madibeng means ‘the place of water’. The Municipality is demarcated into 31 wards of which 10 fall in the urban areas (Brits, Hartbeespoort and Skeerpoort ), and 21 in the rural areas and villages. It includes approximately 43 villages and 9 000 farm areas. Madibeng is centrally situated (approximately 50 km from Pretoria, 55 km from Johannesburg and 60 km from Rustenburg) and is easily accessible via various road networks, amongst others, the N4 toll road, which runs from various directions through Madibeng to Mmabatho , as well as a railway line and airport for light aircraft.

The Municipality has a total population of 477 381, making it the second most populous Municipality in the Bojanala District Municipality after Rustenburg. It is highly rural, with 57 per cent of its population residing in rural areas (tribal or traditional areas), about 28 per cent residing in urban areas and about 15 per cent residing in farming areas. Black Africans are the majority, with an 89 per cent share of the Madibeng Municipality’s population. . The most commonly spoken language is Setswana. More than half of the population is male (53 per cent) and 47 per cent constitutes females. At age 85 and older, there are more than twice as many women as men. People under 20 years of age make up over a quarter of the population (33.5 per cent), and people aged 65 and older make up 5 per cent of the population. It has about 160 724 households and the population’s electricity access is quite high, at 81 per cent overall.

Access to water

More than 80 per cent of the households have access to water, either bulk, full, intermediate, informal intermediate or basic supply, and more than 50 per cent of the population has no access to basic sanitation. Water is supplied from the Harteespoort Dam and Crocodile River. In the rural areas, borehole water is used. The southern part of the Municipality is connected to the Magalies water systems through metered bulk connections feeding the various water distribution zones via service reservoirs.

The water supply in the Municipality is serviced by two main Water Treatment Works in Brits and Schoemansville . The Brits water scheme covers a vast number of areas with high growth patterns and is constrained by plant conditions and raw water quality. There are different water supply schemes and Water Services Providers (Water Boards) to augment water supply in the Municipality.

Madibeng is categorised as a category B Municipality, functioning through the Executive Mayoral System, it has an annual budget of R1.6 billion servicing a population size of 477, 381. The Municipality is both a Water Service Authority and Water Service Provider and has responsibilities as mandated by the National Water Act (36 of 1998). As both a water service provider as well as a water service authority, the Municipality is responsible for the supply of portable water, collection, treatment and disposal of waterborne sewage within its area of jurisdiction in a manner that is sustainable, hygienic, environmentally and socially acceptable

The water supply schemes implemented by the Municipality are as follows: Brits Water Scheme; Hartebeespoort Water Scheme; North East ODI1 Scheme; West ODI1 Scheme; Hartebeespoort South and Ward Scheme Boreholes. The initiatives implemented to boost the water supply and quality in the Municipal area of supply include: Brits Water Purification Plant refurbishment and extension; Brits Water Treatment Plant refurbishment; Water quality with Blue Drop accreditations; Reuse Sewer Effluent; Water supply shortages Emergency Business Plan; Non revenue water or unaccounted for water; Water supply augmentation (Drilling of boreholes); Water Supply: Refurbishment of pumps at Centreville and surrounding areas; Underground water exploration (drilling of boreholes); water shedding and leak repairs.

Challenges in water service delivery

There have been a number of community protests because of service delivery challenges due to failure or collapse of infrastructure. The Municipality has inherited old and outdated infrastructure, systems. The bulk supplies capacities are at the helm of majority challenges experienced in the Municipality. The overarching challenges are in the main, inadequate bulk supplies and availability, poor raw water quality, rapid development and urbanisation, old and outdated infrastructure, mushrooming of informal settlements, land invasions, funding, skills gap and limited tools of trade.

In respect of the water and sanitation service delivery challenges, the Municipality has undertaken the following alternative and contingent measures: supplying water to communities with trucks; supply of portable Jojo tanks placed at strategic locations; and optimization of technical and mechanical processes in the plant.


The Portfolio Committee undertook site visits to the Rietfontein Waste Water Treatment Plant, Xanadu Estate and Mothotlung Wastewater Treatment Works.

3.1 Rietfontein Waste Water Treatment Plant

3.1.1 Overview of Operations at the Rietfontein Plant

As a Water Services Authority, the Madibeng Local Municipality is responsible for the operation and maintenance at the Rietfontein Waste Water Treatment Works, located at Hartebeespoort . Rietfontein discharges wastewater into the Swartspruit , which is a smaller stream flowing into the Crocodile River upstream of the Hartebeespoort Dam. The spillage of raw sewerage of partially treated sewerage has been reported since 2010. The spillage at Rietfontein is due to poor operations and maintenance of pump stations. Not all the 13 pump stations around the Hartebeespoort Dam is fully operational, causing major spillages at various pump stations, manholes and pipelines running close to the dam. The influent to Rietfontein is pumped to the head of the works with no gravity flow. Two pumped water mains flow into Rietfontein from the Xanadu and Ifafi pump stations, which receive sewerage from a number of smaller pump stations upstream. The pump stations have recently been refurbished by the Department of Water and Sanitation, but have not formally been handed over to the Municipality.

3.1.2 Challenges faced by the Municipality Sewage spillages at the Rietfontein Plant

One of the challenges faced by the Municipality is the delayed handover of pump stations by the Department. Another issue which contributes to spillage of waste water is that pump stations were vandalised, which in turn weakened operational systems. This creates uncertainty regarding the responsibility for their operation and maintenance. A flow balancing facility will be constructed by the Municipality just before the inlet works to the plant. The high flow rate experienced during the "burst" of inflow from the pump stations will be accumulated and discharged under gravity under a lower rate into the inlet works. This will minimise further sewerage spillages at the plant.

The Portfolio Committee observed significant overflow of raw sewerage at the Rietfontein Water Purification Plant. This impacts negatively on the surrounding communities. It was reported that the plant was out of chlorine gas as well, and this is necessary chemicals to maintain operations at the plant. It was reported that the chlorine gas chemicals are obtained by the Municipality from manufacturers through distributers and are used interchangeably throughout the Municipality. The main chemical manufacturer experienced challenges in the production lines and high orders and deliveries were delayed as a result. This prompted the Municipality to implement whatever practical precautionary means at its disposal to contain and manage the situation. It was reported that contingent measures were employed with the utilization of both internal staff and external experts to minimize and eliminate the possible negative impact. There are challenges with regards to the supply of the chlorine gas. The overflow at Rietfontein Water Purification plant, despite the building of trenches to mitigate the overflow of raw sewerage from the Rietfontein Water Purification Plant, are still feeding into the Swartspruit , Crocodile River and Hartebeesport Dam. The sewerage has contaminated water downstream, resulting in the death of fish population in dams. The algae build up observed was significant. It was reported that the unsanitary conditions makes the rivers an ideal breeding ground for the algae. Trenches were dug around the affected area at Rietfontein to mitigate the overflow of raw sewerage.

Ongoing vandalism and theft at Riefontein is a major challenge that the Municipality has yet to find a solution to, and is indicative of an urgent need for the Municipality to provide security at the plant. Unaccounted-for Water

It was reported that the Municipality had one of the highest averages of unaccounted for water. Only 39.4% of the distributed water is billed, and of that, the Madibeng Local Municipality only receives revenue for 24.7% of the water billed. There are 25 000 households out of 160 724 households in the Municipality which are not billed, resulting in an annual loss of revenue of approximately R60 million. Escherichia coli (E. coli) levels in excess of 1 million per 100ml

Reports that the Ecoli levels were not compliant with minimum chemical and microbiological standards were correct. This contamination is as a result of the spillage from Rietfontein . The Municipality reported that challenges experienced with the suppliers contributed towards this challenge. Although contingent measures were taken to utilise manual chlorine disinfection, this is not effective as the on line liquid gas chlorine disinfection system. The Department noted that test result analysis revealed that there was no Ecoli in the drinking water, and that the water was safe for consumption, and did not pose any health threats to water consumers. The communities are however, not convinced.

3.2 Brits Waste Water Treatment Plant

3.2.1 Non-functioning of Brits Water Treatment Plant and Pumping Station

The Brits Waste Water Treatment Plant is not functioning optimally due to the inlet works not being operational as a result of a lack of maintenance. This results in the non-functioning of the primary setting tank. In the interim, the Municipality is diverting the flow from the inlet into the reactor. The Department further assessed and noted that this measure was not sustainable and would ultimately result in non-compliance challenges. The Municipality reported that the main causes of pump failures were attributed to vandalism, theft, ageing infrastructure, ingress of foreign objects and outdated sanitation system designs. It was reported that to date, sixteen (16) water treatment plants had been refurbished in Brits, as well as the refurbishment of electromechanical equipment. The Rapid Response Unit of the Department has been deployed to assist in addressing this challenge. The Department reported that the combined effects of ageing infrastructure and maintenance backlog were contributing factors. The major operational and maintenance shortfalls were caused by a lack of proper maintenance management system, including the required technical and managerial skills level. The affected sewer system is quite complex and requires diligent operational and maintenance inputs as well as refurbishments. The Department has deployed staff to the Municipality to assist with capacity and training of staff of the Municipality.

The Department recommended that there was an urgent need for the Municipality to look into sourcing standby pumps, so that when the existing pumps fail, they do not end up polluting the environment. The Municipality needed to relook at engineering of the water and sanitation supply and optimise planning around development infrastructure. The Department further found that one of the main issues of concern was that the life of existing infrastructure could not be extended through proper maintenance, as the Municipality does not have dedicated artisans to address this problem. It was reported that R5 million was needed to refurbish the existing Brits Water Sewerage Plant. The Department has instituted an emergency measure, which aims to address the operational capacity at the plant. The current funding from the Department was provided on condition that the costs would be recovered by the Municipality. Further work is needed to reach the required standard of equipment, which can support the required level of sustainable operation. If the Municipality cannot raise adequate revenue to fund this project, it delays service delivery to communities. There were calls from the Department that the Municipality needed to revise the cost reflectiveness of their tariffs so as to ascertain the costs for the Municipality to treat the effluent, and subsequently included it into a tariff charge to the user.

3.3 Water Contamination at Swartspruit , Crocodile River and Hartebeespoort Dam

Poor water quality from the Hartebeespoort Dam has resulted in high algae bloom. As a result of the bad quality of effluent from Rietfontein , fish kills have been reported in the Xanadu Dam, and wetlands directly downstream from the plant. There has been an increase in the algae in the dams and wetlands at Xanadu and into the Crocodile River, which is feeding off the contaminated zooplankton. The sewer plant is fed with two main pump stations, and there is no temporary storage facility, which can then discharge simultaneously into the plant. Due to plant capacity and design deficiencies, spillages occur and the temporary arrangement could not accommodate the extent of the inflows. Plans for refurbishment include the construction of a buffer facility to curb future spillages.

3.4 Water Service Challenges in Mothutlung

Recent service delivery protests in the Mothutlung area are due to water supply interruptions as a result of the failure of water supply pumps at the water plant, and the need to undertake urgent repairs. During the service delivery protests in January 2014, the Mothutlung Water Treatment plant was vandalised, which resulted in blockages in the sewer network connecting the Mothutlung which led to seweage spillages. The repairs at the Mothulung Water Service Station have been impeded by vandalism and theft which has resulted in delays in the resumption of services. It was reported that the Mothotlung Waste Water Treatment Works discharges directly into the Crocodile River. Whilst Rietfontein and Brits use advanced technology, Lethlabile and Mothutlung use the old Pond Enhanced Trickling System. There is one pump station at Mothutlung and the refurbishment at the treatment plant, is ongoing.

4. Conclusion and Recommendations

Whilst the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation is highly concerned about the water and sanitation challenges at the Madibeng Local Municipality, it recognised that the symptomatic challenges of water and sanitation in the country, include, amongst others, the following:

· Vandalism and theft of water and sanitation infrastructure;

· Maintenance of infrastructure;

· Unaccounted-for Water;

· Further progress and intervention in water services supply and delivery;

· Water quality (Contamination of water resources);

· Strengthening intergovernmental relations to address water and sanitation issues;

· Importance of community participation in projects to ensure ‘buy in’ funding of water services;

· Poor Revenue Collection;

· Poor Leadership; and

· Lack of Capacity within the Municipality

The Portfolio Committee, during its deliberations of the findings and assessments of site visits at the Madibeng Local Municipality, concludes that the above issues require further interrogation and therefore recommends the following on issues raised above:

· Vandalism and theft of water and sanitation infrastructure

The Portfolio Committee noted that vandalism and theft of water supply infrastructure was not only an increasing problem in the Madibeng Local Municipality, but was emerging as a recurrent challenge in the entire country.

This not only impacted on the basic rights of access to quality water to citizens, but also had negative economic implications as money intended to build new infrastructure and maintain existing ones is diverted to replace stolen infrastructure. The Portfolio Committee is of the view that the problem is a societal one that requires a collaborative effort by everyone in order to deal effectively with this matter. The Portfolio Committee also noted that the challenges are further compounded by metal recycling businesses that continue to buy stolen metals and cables from the perpetrators of these crimes. The Portfolio Committee recommended that all institutions, such as the Department of Water and Sanitation, the South African Police Services, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Department of Justice, Municipalities as well communities collaborate to come up with effective strategies to deal with the problem in its entirety. The Portfolio Committee, as a way forward, requests the support of the department and relevant municipalities during the public hearings on vandalism and theft of water infrastructure in November 2014.

· Maintenance of infrastructure

Within Madibeng , the Portfolio Committee noted and appreciated various infrastructure projects underway, such as the R63.7 million Wastewater Infrastructure Refurbishment Project, as well as refurbishment of water supply pumps at various areas. The Portfolio Committee noted the few challenges that remained that required further action. The Portfolio Committee is of the view that while these infrastructure projects are necessary, the maintenance of the infrastructure remains a challenge, and requires serious intervention at all levels of implementation. Of importance to the continuing oversight is the tracking of progress of the upgrade of pump stations at the Rietfontein Sewage Plant, with a commitment made by the Madibeng Local Municipality that this would be resolved within a three-month deadline . The Portfolio Committee resolved that the deadline should be adhered to.

· Further progress and intervention in water services supply and delivery

The Portfolio Committee noted progress in terms of water services and the recognition by the Municipality of supplying water services to communities as a number one priority, which is detailed in its Integrated Development Plan. The Portfolio Committee urges the provincial and national department of water and sanitation to ‘ramp’ up their interventions.

· Unaccounted-for water

The Portfolio Committee is further concerned by information that up to 75 per cent of the municipality’s water is unaccounted-for due to leakages and unmetered households, while the average for the country is around 35 per cent.

· Water quality

While the Blue Drop score for the municipality has improved, there needs to be much work in ensuring that the quality of water provided to the people of the area are of the highest standards.

· Strengthening intergovernmental relations to address water and sanitation issues

A critical point made by the Portfolio Committee was that in there is a need to address intergovernmental relations to address water and sanitation issues. Another critical key concept lacking in South Africa is that of value-based leadership.

· Importance of community participation in projects to ensure ‘buy in’

In engaging with members of the community in Ward 18, in Mothuleng , the Portfolio Committee noted the challenge of lack of communication between community members and councillors on issues of demarcation, budget constraints, and the lack of consultation on integrated development plans, as well as risks and challenges identified by the community itself. This resulted in ‘resentment and accusations’ of corruption in the way in which unilateral decisions are made, which exclude community members from decision-making processes. The Portfolio Committee requests a progress report on the steps taken by relevant authorities to improve communication on the above matters to the affected communities.

· Funding for water services

The Portfolio Committee noted that there is a need for improved funding for water services in order to improve water services delivery.

· Poor revenue collection

The Portfolio Committee noted that there is a need for improvement in collection of revenue from the provided water services.

· Poor leadership

The Portfolio Committee noted that many challenges emanated from poor leadership at the local municipality and recommended that the Department supports the Council in this regard.

· Lack of capacity

The Portfolio Committee noted that there is a serious lack of capacity at the municipality in terms of operation and maintenance of the water services infrastructure. It is therefore recommended that the Department should in the meantime provide technical assistance to the municipality.

Report to be considered.


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