ATC071107: Report North West Province Oversight visit

Water and Sanitation


The Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs and Forestry having undertaken oversight  in the North West Province from 30 July – 03 August reports as follows:

1. Introduction and Background

The Committee as mandated by the Constitution and the rules of Parliament conducted oversight in the North West Province from the 30 July – 03 August 2007. 

The aim of the oversight was:

To view the progress made with the eradication of the bucket sanitation toilet-, sanitation- and water backlogs; 

View the quality of water resources in the province.

In addition to the above the Committee undertook to gain first hand knowledge of the water crises that escalated in Swartruggens.

The legal underpinning of water and sanitation issues in South Africa is grounded in the following:

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. The right to have access to sufficient water is provided in section 27(1) (b) of the South African Constitution. Section 27(1) (b) read in conjunction with section 27(2) provides that the State must take reasonable legislative and other measures to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the progressive realisation of the right to access of water within its available resources. The provision of clean water in sufficient quantities also has implications for health, food security and overall economic development.

The right to sanitation has no explicit provision in the Constitution, but can be derived from section 24(a), read together with the right to have access to sufficient water, that people have a right to sanitation.

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has enacted a number of Acts, policies and strategies that define and determine the parameters in which water related issues are concretised:

The National Water Act (NWA) of 1998 ensures that the nation’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled.

The National Water Resource Strategy, 2004.

The Strategic Framework for Water Services (SFWS), 2003 addresses key challenges, namely, prevailing inequality.  The SFWS aims to provide basic services, higher levels of services and sustainable service, including institutional sustainability.  

The Water Services Act, 1997 sets out the rights of consumers, and the rights and duties of those responsible for providing water services.  The Act also provides the right of access to basic water supply, and the right to basic sanitation necessary to secure sufficient water and an environment nor harmful to human health or well-being.

In addition to the above, and in relation to the DWAF now being a sector leader, the Local Government Municipal Finance Management Act, 56 of 2003 also provides the duties, functions and conditions that municipalities should adhere to in rendering service delivery.

The report therefore factors in the legislative framework, policy, guidelines and other frameworks that guide the work of the DWAF and municipalities in providing effective services to communities.

2. Delegation

Hon. Ms C September, (ANC) – Chairperson, Hon. Ms M Maine, (ANC), Hon. Mr J Arendse, (ANC), Hon. Mr. BG Mosala (ANC), Hon. Ms TE Lishivha, (ANC), Hon. Ms M Manana, (ANC), Hon. Mr H Cupido, (ACDP), Hon. Mr MSibuyana, (IFP), Hon. Mr P Ditshetelo, (UCDP).

3. Overview of the North West Province

3.1 Demographics

The North West Province is a medium sized province, covering 116 320 km2, with a population of 3, 7 million people, which constitutes 8.2% of South Africa’s population. The Province is predominantly rural, with 65, 1% of the population living in rural areas and 34, 9 % in urban areas. 54% of the land is used for agricultural economic activity. The economy can be categorised as a dualistic agricultural economy, with a well developed commercial sector and a large subsistence sector; there are approximately 7600 commercial farms and approximately 147 000 subsistence farmers in the North West Province.

There are three major irrigation schemes situated on the Crocodile, Vaal and Harts Rivers.  The Vaal-Harts Irrigation scheme covers a total area of about 43 700 hectares, of which wheat, maize and groundnuts take 36%, 23% and 22% of the total irrigated fields area respectively. The Province is responsible for the production of 94% of the country’s platinum, 46% of South Africa’ granite and 25% of the country’s gold.

The major challenges the province faces are:

·                Low population density and relatively inadequate infrastructure, especially in the remote rural areas.


·                Inherited large backlogs in basic service delivery and maintenance.


·                Predominantly poor population with high levels of illiteracy and dependency that affect their productivity and ability to compete for jobs.


·                Significant inequalities between the rich and poor, as well as between urban and rural.


·                Available resources are unevenly distributed and offer limited potential for improved delivery of services and growth.


·                Rapid rate of urbanisation is experienced by the province.


3.2 Water Management Areas

The province falls within four water management areas, namely:

·                Lower Vaal


·                Middle Vaal


·                Upper Vaal


·                Crocodile Marico


Currently the following arrangement is upheld provincially:

·                The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) remains responsible for the management whilst Catchment Management Agencies are being established


·                Local level Water User Associations are also being established with primary focus on transforming existing irrigation boards.


3.3 Institutional arrangements

Provincial government has the overall responsibility of coordinating the implementation of local government functions, including water. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry fulfils a primary role of supporting Water Service Authorities in the provision on water services. The Department offers support in the form of assistance with planning, implementation, operation and maintenance. 

Twelve municipalities fulfil a water service authority function, namely:

·                Central District Municipality


·                Bophirima District Municipality


·                Moretele Local Municipality


·                Madibeng Local Municipality


·                Rustenburg Local Municipality


·                Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality


·                Moses Kotane Local Municipality


·                Ventersdorp Local Municipality


·                Potchefstroom Local Municipality


·                City of Matloasana Local Municipality


·                Maquassi Hills Local Municipality


·                Merafong Local Municipality


There are four Water Boards operating in the province: Sedibeng-, Magalies-, Rand- and Botshelo Water Board. These Water Boards had previously worked with the Department in providing source to tap water services. MidvaalWater Company also operates as a water service provider in the Southern district municipal area. 

3.4 Water resources

The North West Province is a water scarce province. The following are the major dams in the area:

·                Buffelspoort


·                Hartebeespoort


·                Klein Karoo


·                Kromellendboog


·                Marico Bosveld


·                Molatedi


·                The ground water is of a good quality, but limited. There are also a number of small dams and rivers, some of which are seasonal. The state of water is a major issue, due to the rapid rate of urbanisation. The bulk of the water comes from the Vaal River system, which entails water transportation over long distances and the usage of high pumping elevations. 

Water is also transferred from Thukela via the Thukela/Vaal and Drakensberg schemes, and the Orange River via the Lesotho Highlands Project. This importation/ transferral of water to the province has a cost implication for the municipalities in the form of the Bulk resources tariff. 

3.5 Backlogs

3.5.1 Bucket Toilet Backlog

The deadline for the eradication of the bucket toilet backlogs, as stated by the Hon. President is December 2007. The North West Province had a bucket toilet backlog of 25 124 buckets at the first of June 2006.

Implementation of the bucket eradication programme had started in the 2006/07 financial year, through the implementation of ‘Phase 1’ in which the Province prioritised the eradication of approximately 10000 buckets in 5 local municipalities. These municipalities were:

Tswaing Local Municipality - 1469 bucket toilets.


·                Ditsobotla Local Municipality - 1296 bucket toilets.


·                Mamusa Local Municipality - 2371 bucket toilets.


·                Lekwa Teemane Local Municipality – 1498 bucket toilets.


·                Maquassi Hills Local Municipality – 3512 bucket toilets.


The Development Bank of South Africa provided, in total, funding of R100 million to the respective municipalities in order to expedite the eradication of the bucket backlog. The Provincial Department of Local Government and housing’s allocation is structured to cover the cost of the loan over the 2006/07 (R 30 million) and 2007/08 (R70 million) financial years. The progress to date is that eleven sanitation projects have been implemented. The total value of these projects is R106, 95 million. Seven of the eleven sanitation projects are completed. The number of buckets eradicated, as at March 2007, is 12 100. According to the Provincial Government, the backlog is 17 944 buckets, this target, however includes post 1994 bucket toilets. Current statistics from the National Department of Water Affairs and Forestry states that the backlog is currently at 3600 for the entire province, but this is strictly the pre-1994 target. 

3.5.2 Sanitation Backlog

The deadline for the eradication of the sanitation backlog is 2010. The North West Province had a sanitation backlog of 734 942 households. It is estimated that R 1, 5 billion is needed to clear the Household sanitation backlogs. 

Municipal Infrastructure Grant allocations for sanitation projects for the 2006/07 and 2007/08 financial years are R145 923 748, 85 and R18 720 773, 59 respectively, with a total of 115 projects rolled out over the two year period.  

3.5.3 Water Backlog

The target for access to water is 2008. The North West Province has a water backlog of 638 091 households. Eighteen percent of the population of the North West Province’s access to Water is below the RDP level, which is access to water within a 200m radius. An estimated R1, 8 billion is required to clear the household water backlogs.

Municipal Infrastructure Grant allocations for Water projects for the 2006/07 and the 2007/08 financial year are R 85 238 960, 66 and R 26 294 702, 85 respectively, with a total of 135 projects rolled out over the two year period.

3.6 Challenges

The following challenges are experienced in the North West Province: 

·                It is a water scarce province, where there is heavy reliance on underground water resources, which is depleted due to a shortage in the rainfall experienced this year.


·                Funding shortfalls experienced by municipalities for infrastructure implementation and eradication of the backlogs.


·                Capacity and Human Resource constraints at Local Municipal Level.


·                Vandalism of water and sanitation infrastructure.


·                Unaccounted for water, water losses and un-metered consumption of water.


·                Access to water is a complex issue, due to the fact that individuals’ access to water varies. 182 879 persons have no access to water, 684 483 persons have below RDP access to water, and are classified as needy by the department.


3.7 Future plans

The province has highlighted the following as future plans that should be undertaken:

·                The facilitation of the implementation of the upgrading to bulk water supply pipeline at Maquassi Hills Local Municipality in support of bucket eradication


·                Encouraging water service authorities and local municipalities to prioritise water and sanitation projects, especially water projects on the 2007/08 and 2008/09 Municipal Infrastructure Grant allocations to meet the 2008 deadline.


·                A study to be conducted to determine the extent of the water and sanitation backlogs in the North West Province and the cost of eradicating the backlogs by the year 2010.


·                Communication to communities on water conservation and demand management.


·                A large dolomitic aquifer has been discovered in the Central District Municipal Area. The viability of water extraction from the aquifer is still to be established. The soil conditions are dolomitic.



4.1 Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality

The Local Municipalities falling under the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality are:

·                Ratlou Local Municipality


·                Tswaing Local Municipality


·                Mafikeng Local Municipality


·                Ditsobotla Local Municipality


·                Ramotshere Moila Local Municipality


Table1: Bucket eradication in Ngaka Modiri District Municipality



Original Backlog

Eradicated Backlog

Remaining Backlog

Letsopa Ext 1




Letsopa Ext 2




Boikhutso Phase 2




Boikhutso Phase 3




Tlhabologang Ext 5

1 395


1 395(via housing)

Itekeng Ext 2 (VIP)




Delareyville Ext 7 & Sannieshof(VIP)

839 + 51




4 400

1 155

3 245

Table 2: Funding allocated to projects for the implementation of sanitation backlog eradication

Financial Year


Service Level

Allocation (MIG, others)

Number Of Buckets eradicated


Construction of bulk water & supply lines to support 1395 stands in 

Tlhabologang Ext 5 (and other stands in Coligny)

Full Water-borne

R12m (DBSA)

0 [project in preparation, construction expected to start in Sept 07]


Construction of low-cost houses at 

Tlhabologang Ext 5

Full Water-borne

Amount to be ascertained from Department of Housing.

0 [construction of houses has started]


Construction of water and sewer networks and toilet structures at Itekeng Ext 2 (replacing VIP’s)

Full Water-borne

R16m (DBSA)

0 [project in preparation. Construction expected to start in Sept 07]


Construction of water and sewer networks and toilet structures at DelareyvilleSannieshof

(replacing VIP’s)

Full Water-borne

R11.908m (MIG)

0 [project in preparation. Construction expected to start in Aug 07


4.1.1 Challenges

The challenges highlighted with the bucket eradication programme currently being implemented are:

·                Implementation of post- 1994 projects.


·                Time constraints in terms of completing by December 2007.


·                Registration of abstraction license for Tlhabologang Ext 5.


·                Access to Water and sanitation


·                Emphasis on provision to below RDP.


·                Population below basic level of service on water is 167 910.


·                The total cost to eradicate water backlogs is estimated at R2 074 642 677.


·                Population below basic level of service on sanitation is 379 289.


·                The total cost to eradicate sanitation backlogs is estimated at R1 327 526 791.


The local municipalities, Ratlou and Ramotshere Moila also presented to the Committee their own presentations on the sanitation, bucket and water backlogs and the challenges experienced in terms of meeting the targets set for the eradication of the backlogs. It was discovered that the level of support from the Department and the District municipality was not evident from the presentation of the local municipalities.


4.1.2 Observations

Implementation of full waterborne sanitation technology does not match the conditions encountered in the district municipality, namely that of water scarcity, alternative sanitation technologies, such as dry sanitation, which would make more economic sense and long term maintenance would be more cost effective than the propositions made by the presenters.

The Committee also found that the support given to two of the local municipalities was not at a level that inspired confidence in the delegation; with Ratlou and Ramotshere Moila local municipalities the following was raised by the Committee: Ratlou Local Municipality:

·                Assistance given to Ratlou Local Municipality by the district municipality in terms of provision of services, which is without a budget and is not a delegated service provider.


·                Section 78 Processes are incomplete.


·                There was no funding provided to eradicate the backlog.


·                Assistance with the geo-hydrologically study and water service development plan. Ramotshere Moila Local Municipality

·                No accurate up to date statistics were presented.


·                An explanation of tables in presentation on financials and projected financial figures was not given.


·                The figures on water and sanitation backlogs were also confusing. A detailed explanation was requested on how this local municipality will address the challenges posed in terms of funding capacity to meet the set targets for buckets, water and sanitation as pronounced by the Hon. President of South Africa.


Progress on Bucket eradication:

·                The information supplied was not cognisant of the targets set by the Hon. President of South Africa. Also no information was supplied for the 2007/08 financial year.


·                Water Supply to Khunotswane and Ntswelesoku.


·                The Portfolio Committee contested the information supplied by the presenter stating water is being provided, and affirmed that people are standing in queues.


·                No information supplied on the Schools and clinics sanitation and water backlogs experienced in the Ramotshere Moila Local Municipality. The following recommendations emanated from a meeting with the local municipalities:

·                The Ratlou Local Municipality should liaise more closely with the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry officials to ascertain information currently available on the Geo-hydrological conditions found in Ratlou Local Municipality.


·                Instead of Ratlou Municipality advocating to take over the responsibility of service provider, without understanding the responsibility of this undertaking, at this point in time, it would be much easier to fulfil their mandate as best as possible within timeframes and funding available.


·                There seems not to be proper integration/ co-ordination between the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry’s programme with Department of Health and Education and the municipalities in which schools and clinics sanitation services are to be rolled out to. The Department should liaise with municipalities on the progress of sanitation and water services roll-out to schools and clinics.


·                Botshelo Water Board is the water board that is responsible for the provision of reticulated water in the Central District municipality. There was a clearly established working relationship between the Department, the Water Board and the District Municipality.


4.2 Bophirima District Municipality


The total population is 481 420 people. The number of households is 101,328 houses, of which 25 013 are urban and 76 315 are rural households. The number of local municipalities comprising six of the following: 

·                Naledi Local Municipality


·                Mamusa Local Municipality


·                Lekwa Teemane Local Municipality


·                Greater Taung Local Municipality


·                Kagisano Local Municipality


·                Molopo Local Municipality


Table 3: Backlogs in the Bophirima District Municipality


Local Municipality

Bucket Backlog

Water Backlog


Total per local municipality

Naledi local municipality





Mamusa local municipality





Lekwa Teemane local municipality





Greater Taung local municipality





Kagisano local municipality





Molopo local municipality










Table 4: Financial implications of backlog eradication programmes for Bophirima District Municipality



Cost of bucket backlog

Cost of Water Backlog

Cost of Sanitation backlog

Total per local municipality

Naledi local municipality

 R 6,300,000

R 12,960,000

 R 2,275,000

 R 21,535,000

Mamusa local municipality

 R 0

 R 18,000,000

 R 15,600,000

 R 33,600,000

Lekwa Teemanelocal municipality

 R 0

 R 10,250,000

 R 1,425,000

 R 11,675,000

Greater Taunglocal municipality

 R 0

 R 124,400,000

 R 136,550

R 124,536,550

Kagisano local municipality

 R 0

 R 36,900,000

 R 73,125,000

R 110,025,000

Molopo local municipality

 R 0

 R 12,500,000

 R 1,900,000



 R  6,300,000

 R 215,010,000

 R 94,461,550


The bucket eradication programme for the 2006/07 financial year costs R39 270 million. The primary source of funding is from the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), the approved loan amount is R38, 5 million. BophirimaDistrict municipality supplemented the loan finance with an amount of R 770 000. The total number of stands eradicated is 3872 stands.

The target of pre- 1994 communities that were left out in the Naledi Local Municipality are Huhudi (450 stands) and Colridge (150 stands), with a total estimated cost of R6 300 000 to implement the eradication of buckets found in these areas. Approved Municipal Infrastructure Grant funding is R26, 653 million for the 2007/08 financial year, which will cover the estimated cost of R6, 3 million.

Approved funding for the 2007/08 financial year is R4, 4 million, which is sourced from municipal operating income. Financial requirements of the district municipality to ensure that the 2010 target is met, is R 232 million spread over the three years of 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10. This would entail funding requirements of R77, 33 million per annum.

Challenges noted for the existing water backlogs are: 

·                All funding for water projects are committed for the provision of bulk infrastructure.


·                Eighty percent of the district is dependant on ground water, which is polluted.


·                Surface water is under utilised.


Challenges noted for the existing sanitation backlogs are:

·                Lack of funding to meet the determined targets for the eradication of the sanitation backlogs.


·                Buckets have to be replaced with full water borne system.


·                Ground water is polluted.


·                High sanitation backlog in Greater Taung Local Municipality and Kagisano Local Municipality.


·                The cost of operation and maintenance for sewerage treatment works.


4.2.1 Sedibeng Water Board

The Committee met with Sedibeng Water and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, and stressed that the assistance received from the water boards in terms of achieving government’s objectives is welcomed.

4.2.2 Observations

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, the Bophirima District Municipality and the local municipalities have a well established working relationship. It was evident that the backlogs that exist should be eradicated by their respective dates. 

With the water backlogs, most of the funding is allocated to bulk infrastructure, yet 80% of the population is dependant on groundwater. A problem of pollution of ground water exists, yet no interventions were presented to be in place to educate the community on water demand management, conservation and water quality maintenance.

4.3 Southern District Municipality

Southern District Municipality has the following local municipalities that fall under its jurisdiction:

·                Maquassi Hills Local Municipality


·                City of Matlosana


·                Ventersdorp Local Municipality


·                Merafong City Local Municipality


·                Potchefstroom Local Municipality


The Southern District Municipality does not have any buckets to be eradicated before the December 2007 deadline. The local municipalities are currently implementing plans to meet the sanitation and water deadlines through the implementation of housing. The Committee was confident in the municipalities’ ability to meet the targets, since there was a clearly established working relationship between the district municipalities, the water service company, the local municipalities and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. 

4.3.1 Midvaal Water Company

Midvaal is a water company established in 1954 as an Article 21 company, which is a public company with limited liability/ non profit organisation, in terms of the Companies Act (act 20 of 2004). Its core business is bulk supply of potable water. It also provides sanitation services, operation and maintenance services and scientific services through accredited laboratory. Its area of supply is Klerksdorp, Orkney and Stillfontein. It has established the following partnerships:

Memorandum of understanding with Botshelo Water.

Twinning agreement with Oslo Water and Sewerage Works.

Joint Technical Forum with city of Matlosana to find optimum solutions for common problems relating to water and sanitation.

It has supplied bulk drinking water since 1954 to mines, municipalities and industries. It also provides operation and maintenance services for pipelines, reservoirs, water and sewage plants. It is currently assisting with the installation of water infrastructure, and training operators for water and sewerage treatment plants.

In terms of Midvaal’s tariff structure, it is comparatively cheaper than the Water Boards who also provide bulk water to the North West Province. Midvaal provides municipal water at R3.06/kiloliter, whereas Rand Water charges R 3.50/ kiloliter for municipal water. Sedibeng charges R4.60/ kiloliter for municipal water. Midvaal is the most cost effective operation and charges the lowest tariff in the Vaal River Catchment. It has built effective partnerships with municipal stakeholders and also participates in the South African Association for Water Utilities (SAAWU) and Energy Sector Education Training Authority (ESETA) forums. Midvaal affirmed that they have the capacity to assist the municipalities meet the sanitation and water targets. In the Central district there were no buckets that needed to be eradicated. The Southern District had achieved the eradication of the bucket backlog. 

4.3.2 Observations

There was a clearly established working relationship amongst the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, the district municipality, the local municipalities and the Water Service Company. The district municipality has implemented the eradication of the bucket backlog and was upgrading the Ventilated Improved Pit   (VIPs) Latrines in the district in order to meet the sanitation target of 2008. The Department was commended for its progress in theNorth West Province by the Committee.   

4.4 Bojanala District Municipality

Bojanala District Municipality has the following local municipalities falling within its jurisdiction:

·                Moretele Local Municipality


·                Rustenburg Local Municipality


·                Kgtlengrivier Local Municipality


·                Moses Kotane Local Municipality


4.4.1 Bucket toilet backlog

In total, Bojanala District Municipality was allocated R69 million for the 2006/07 financial year, of which 17 000 toilets were built. This impacted 85000 persons and created 311 jobs. 100% of the budget allocated was spent. For the 2007/08 year, R 3 million has been allocated for the district municipality.

4.4.2 Sanitation backlog

Moretele Local Municipality was allocated R 6 031 458.14 for 2006/07 and R 3 617 218.78 for 2007/08 for 5 sanitation projects from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant. Rustenburg Local Municipality spent R 10 118 464.04 for 2006/07, the municipality was allocated R 3 467 244.17 for 2007/08 for the completion of 25 projects from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant.

4.4.3 Water backlog

In terms of water needs, Kgetlengrivier has 57% of its population with below RDP access to water. Rustenburg Local Municipality has 21% of its population with below RDP access to water. Madibeng Local Municipality has 19% of its population with below RDP access to water. Moretele has 18% of its population with below RDP access to water. Moses Kotane Local Municipality has 8% of its population with below RDP access to water.

Madibeng Local Municipality spent R 505 107.07 of its allocated Municipal Infrastructure Grant for 2006/07. The municipality has been allocated R 3 008 367.49 for 2007/08. The funding for the two years is for 10 projects in total.Moretele Local Municipality spent R 20 990 375.09 in 2006/07 and has R 6 709 666.81 allocated to it for 2007/08. The municipality has seven projects for implementation over the two years. Moses Kotane Local Municipality has spent R 2 669 511.42 in 2006/07 and is allocated R 2 109 784.18 for the year of 2007/08 for the completion of four projects. Rustenburg Local Municipality has 20 projects over two years. In 2006/07, the municipality spent R 5 543 520.03 and is allocated R 6 136 970.18 from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant for 2007/08. Kgetlengriver Local Municipality spent 

R 584 066.74 of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant allocated to the municipality for 2006/07 is for two projects.

4.4.4 Magalies Water

The Committee met with Magalies Water and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, and was assured that Magalies was assisting the District Municipality with the provision of water to Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality. 

4.4.5 Observations: Site Visit – Swarthoek Recreational Facility

The Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs and Forestry met on the 02 August 2007 with the Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality municipal management, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry: North West Regional management and the Chairperson of the Rate Payers Association at Swarthoek Recreation facility. It was discovered that the actual situation in Swartruggens is more complex than it was portrayed in the media.

The Committee was briefed on the water shortages that are currently experienced in the municipality. The Swartruggens dam level is low. This is aggravated by the fact that there has been a low level of rainfall in the area this year. The supply of water to the area via a pipeline had been disrupted, worsening the water shortage experienced.

The actual event behind the media coverage is that Mr. Koos Bisshoff, who contacted the media about the water shortage, offered that the municipality extract water from his private borehole, to augment the total supply of water to the municipality.

The Department of Water Affairs had offered to match the financial allocation the municipality made for the provision of water to the inhabitants of the Kgetlengrivier municipality. The municipality does not have any funds available; the budget that the municipality has been allocated is not available due to other commitments. According to Dawie Foster, who oversees the recreational area on which the dam is located, no one’s access to the dam is stopped. 

The local municipality of Kgetlengrivier is currently experiencing a problem of funding. The Ratepayers Association is withholding monies owed to the municipality for services amounting to R40 million. The Chairperson of the Ratepayers Association explained that the money was being withheld for water and electricity services since these services were not forthcoming. This was disputed by the municipal manager. It was also said that the disagreement between the rate payers association and the municipality has been ongoing over the past three years. Solutions proposed by the Portfolio Committee on site were: 

An immediate solution should to be sought to provide water to the neediest communities in Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality. This should be allocated on the basis of a short, medium and long term solution to overcome the water challenges experienced.

That as a matter of urgency the municipality with the support of all other government departments should bring to an end the withholding of monies owed by the Ratepayers Association, including seeking legal resolution.

DWAF should in co-operation with the municipality, look at the available water resource and supply and where possible, allocate and re-allocate in an equitable manner to all in terms of the Water Act and Water Services Act. The municipality should enforce the water restrictions imposed and monitor it accordingly.

The Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs and Forestry to receive a progress report in two weeks time from the MEC for Developmental Local Government and Housing.

4.6 Hartebeespoort Dam

The Committee conducted oversight on the Harterbeespoort Dam, which is in line with the committee’s objective of viewing water resource quality in the province. The pollution encountered in the Hartebeespoort Dam has resulted in severe eutrification over time. Large algae blooms have blossomed due to the high phosphate and nitrification of the water in the Hartebeespoort dam.  Political intervention has led to the establishment of the Hartebeespoort Dam remediation programme. 

The dam is located close to the border of the North West Province and Gauteng Province. The Magalies River flows into the dam and runs off into the Crocodile River and Leeuspruit River. The dam is surrounded by several residential estates. 

The dam was in a hyper toxic state; with approximately 50% of the water in the dam a resultant of return flows from urban users. Excessive growth of algae and water hyacinths resulted. Recreational activities on the dam have been hampered.  The process to purify the water for drinking purposes was complicated and became expensive due to the excessive pollutants, and the excess strain placed on the cleaning processes. 

Rand Water is the implementing agent for the remediation of the Hartebeespoort Dam. Rand Water, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, North West Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment and theHartebeespoort Dam Water Action Group were the stakeholders that were involved in the establishment of the programme. 

The remediation programme thus far has achieved the following: 

A project steering committee has been established, that participates in a forum consisting of representatives of the following government departments:

·                North West Department of Agriculture, conservation and Environment (NW-DACE)


·                Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF)


·                Madibeng Local Municipality


·                Premier of North West Province Office


·                Department of Public Works


·                Department of Economic Development and Tourism


·                National Department of Agriculture


·                Department of Land Affairs


·                Gauteng Department of Agriculture, conservation and Environment


·                Department of Developmental Local Government and Housing


·                Bojanala District Municipality


·                Municipalities in catchment area (Gauteng)


·                Department of sport, Arts and Culture


·                Department of Transport and Roads.


Currently, a standardised reporting format is being formulised in order to regularly inform all stakeholders.

The Water Research Commission support has been sought in order to support and provide assistance in terms of Research and development, integrated monitoring, and institutional capacity of the implementers of the clean up project.

Removal of Algae has commenced. The Committee viewed the floating barch that was installed to traffic the algae to the pump station, whereby it is channelled through a filter and stored away from the dam until it is disposed of.

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry predominantly funds the implementation of the project.

4.6.1 Observations

The progress thus far has been on projects to clean up the pollution, Waste Water treatment plants are still reported as dumping sewerage upstream from the Hartebeespoort Dam when they experience capacity problems with their plants. The Department should review current legislation to strengthen the monitoring and implementation of Water Quality management. The impact of pollution on a natural resource is immeasurable in terms of monetary value due to the impact it has on its surroundings and the quality of life of people dependant on this source of water.

5 Overview of Findings

5.1 . According to the information supplied from the municipalities, the Municipal Executive Councillor of Developmental Local Government and Housing, MEC Yawa and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, there is a backlog of 3600 bucket toilets. Currently, many of the municipalities are eradicating buckets that were created post 1994 or ventilated improved pit (VIPs) latrines, which are outside of the defined buckets that should be targeted for the end of December 2007.

5.2. Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality has the largest access to water backlog and is currently experiencing water shortages, yet its allocation for water is the least for the 2006/07 and 2007/08 years. It was argued that the Municipal Infrastructure Grant allocations to local municipalities do not seem to be based on need, for example.

In terms of the national regulation of the Strategic Framework for Water Services (September 2003), the provision of basic services (universal service obligation) maintains that: “The national water services regulator will assess the progress of water service authorities in taking reasonable steps to realise the right of everyone to have basic water supply and sanitation service, with specific emphasis on people in dire need.[1] In undertaking this assessment, the national regulator will take into account the constraints facing the water service authorities.”

In terms of the Constitution (No. 108 of 1996) Section 27 (b), the inhabitants of Kgetlengrivier’s right to access to sufficient water is being infringed upon. Currently, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, the Magalies Water Board, the district municipality and the local municipality are working together to augment the total supply of water in the area by accessing private boreholes, testing the yield of new boreholes found and trucking water into the area. This does, however bear a financial implication.  

The Ratepayers Association owes the municipality R 20 million and seems not prepared to pay the monies back to the municipality. Section 157 of the Local Government Municipal Finance Management Act (No. 56 of 2003) provides guidelines on the establishment of a municipal financial recovery service. 

5.3. Section 27 (1) (b) of the Constitution (Act 108 of 1996) protects the right of South African’s access to water. Section 27 (2) states that the state must make reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of these rights. In terms of the above certain municipalities forming consortiums with business and service providers, for example Midvaal Water Company, to ensure the delivery of water is innovative and in line with what is envisioned in Section 27 (2) of the Constitution (No.108 of 1996). 

Section 33 of the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act (Act 56 of 2003) states the conditions that the municipality should adhere to when entering contracts that impose financial implications on the municipality beyond three years and that the onus is on the municipality to ensure that these conditions are adhered to. 

It is imperative, however, to ensure that the rights of the recipients are protected, the service provided is at the most affordable rate possible, government’s commitments regarding the supply of free basic water takes place. The Companies Act, the Constitution, the Water Act, the Municipal Finance Management Act and other relevant legislation is in place and is adhered to by the consortium. 

5.4. Debt incurred by the municipalities for the roll-out of basic services is also a concern for the Committee. Section 46 outlines the legislative conditions for the attainment of long term debt; against this it is found that the municipalities are adherent to the Act. Section 46 (4)(b) makes provision for the cost of professional services directly related to the capital expenditure, therefore the debt incurred with DBSA complies with both short term and long term debt provisions of the Local Government Municipal Finance Management Act (No. 56 of 2003).

5.5. The implementation of full water borne sanitation in the province does not match the conditions experienced in the province, namely that of water scarcity. Most of the areas that require service delivery are predominantly rural and have low population densities, yet there is an insistence on full water borne sanitation, which does not suite the provincial demographics of water scarcity. Dry sanitation technology is available and would be a better suited technology to a water scarce environment. It would also be cheaper to implement and maintain. It is also concerning that most of the waste water treatment plants in the province are reported have capacity problems; this was clearly stated as a reason for the eutrification of Hartebeespoort Dam. The dumping/ overrunning of the sewerage in the dam is a constant occurrence, and implementation of full water borne will further aggravate the current incapacity experienced by waste water treatment plants in the province. 

The Committee is concerned however that the repayment of long term debt could hamper the municipality’s ability to roll out services in future instead of servicing debt. It seems that most of the debt incurred is for the implementation of unsustainable sanitation technology. Water waste treatment plants are in dire need of operation and maintenance, coupled with the rapid expansion in urban areas is going to put more strain on the existing plants inadequate capacity. 

5.6 . The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry indicated that there was an underground aquifer. The Department also indicated that the soil conditions experienced are dolomitic. The Committee’s oversight in Gautengunearthed that over extraction of water from dolomitic soil compartments aggravated the occurrence of sinkholes. A study should be conducted on the viability of this occurrence and if residence occurs above the underground reservoir, the cost of the relocation of the inhabitants should be factored into a cost benefit analysis done as part of the study.

5.7 . The National Water Resources Strategy (July 2004) states: “The department’s approach to water quality management is to promote the reduction of discharges of waste or water containing waste into water resources. Where waste discharges are unavoidable, the impact on other users, water resources and the general public are controlled by specifying the permissible levels and concentrations of the constituents of the discharge in the conditions of use authorisations. In emergency situations, where harmful substances are accidentally or negligently discharged into water resources, the Act makes those who have caused the pollution responsible for remedying the effects. However, catchment management agencies may, where necessary, accelerate the cleanup process by arranging for the work to be done by others and recovering any costs incurred from the responsible party. At present all pollution incidents must be reported to the department so that the appropriate responses can be co-ordinated, in conjunction with the National Disaster Management Centre, with the relevant emergency services and disaster management centres. Ultimately the responsibility will be passed to the catchment management agencies”. The Water User Association has been set up to clean up the Hartebeespoort Dam. 

The National Water Act, 1998 aims to control the use of water resources, protect them from being impacted on or exploited and polluted, and ensure that every person has equitable access to them. Implementation of this is not seen in the North West Province. The Hartebeespoort Dam is polluted by the waste water treatment plants, yet penalty is being charged to the polluters. The Water Resource Strategy is also clear on this, yet the implementation of this is not forthcoming. 

The Water Services Act, 1997 aims to achieve the following:

·                Set out the right of consumers, and the rights and duties of those responsible for providing water services


·                Provide the right of access to basic water supply, and the right to basic sanitation necessary to secure sufficient water and an environment not harmful to human health or well being.


The Strategic Framework for Water Services (SFWS) is formulated to address key challenges, namely prevailing inequality.  The SFWS aims to provide basic services, higher levels of service and sustainable service, including institutional sustainability. One of the key policy themes of the SFWS is credit control. This policy was signed by South African Local Government Association. Despite this affirmation, the Swartruggens local municipality is owed R20 million by the Rate- Payers Association for municipal services, and inability to finalise this is putting the municipality in a precarious position whereby it cannot implement the Acts nor meet its constitutional obligations, as specified through the National Water Act, 1998, to provide water and sanitation sufficient for human health and well-being.

6. Conclusion

The Committee as mandated by the Constitution and the Rules of Parliament conducted oversight in the North West Province from the 30 July – 03 August 2007. The aim was to view the progress made with the eradication of the bucket toilet-, sanitation- and water backlogs; view the quality of water resources in the province and gain first hand knowledge of the water crises that escalated recently in Swartruggens.

In terms of the progress made on the eradication of bucket toilet-, sanitation and water backlogs, the committee found that in terms of the defined (pre- 1994) bucket toilets to be eradicated, the province has 3600 buckets to eradicate. Most of the municipalities have eradicated their bucket toilet backlogs, and is in the process of working toward the achievement of the 2008 sanitation deadline. The insistence on full water borne sanitation can stifle the efforts made by the stakeholder district and local municipalities, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry: North West Province and the Provincial Government. The committee could also see co-operative governance in some of the district municipalities, with their local municipalities and the results of that was heartening as it translated into water and sanitation service delivery to citizens. In other district municipalities, with the local municipalities, co-operative governance was not evident, and resulted in bottlenecks, unavailability of information and ultimately non delivery of water and sanitation services to citizens.

The pollution seen in the Hartebeespoort Dam has direct and indirect costs for the water quality in the catchment management area. The direct cost was the greater costs associated with cleaning the water. The indirect cost is the quality of life experienced by people who are reliant on the water in the catchment management area, but not benefit from the cleaned water. In Swartruggens, there is a plan in place to provide water to the community with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry: North West regional office and Magalies Water Board assisting the District and Local Municipality. The Local Government: Municipal finance management Act does not provide explicit direction for the local municipality to obtain the rates owed to them from the Rate payers association. Legal action was suggested as a means by the committee, due to the fact that talks had taken place over three years, and the municipality’s MIG allocation for the 2007/08 year is far less than the monies owed to it. In Swartruggens, where water shortages were encountered the Committee made recommendations on site to address the dire need of water encountered.

The Committee expressed their appreciation with the progress made in Bophirima District and Southern District Municipality. The working relationship in the Central and Bojanala District Municipality amongst the implementers of the Bucket, sanitation and water backlogs eradication programmes’ were not clearly defined.  

7. Recommendations

The Portfolio Committee, having undertaken oversight recommends the following:

7.1. The Portfolio Committee noted that numerous Water Boards operated in one province and requests that the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry supply the Portfolio Committee with a progress report on the Water Tariff reform process.

7.2. The Department should ascertain the veracity of the figures supplied by the Municipalities, since some of the presentations were based on projections.

7.3. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry should look at the feasibility of conducting a study/ comparative analysis, in partnership with the Water Research Commission, on ground water extraction in water scarce areas found in the North West Province.

7.4. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry should look at assistance it can offer municipalities to deal with vandalism of infrastructure.

7.5. The Committee notes that the collection of debt is a problem in the Swartruggens area, and urges the municipality to use the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act (No. 56 of 2003) as a guide on the steps that should be taken to address the problem.

7.6. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and of Provincial and Local Government should play an advisory role to municipalities when additional funding, such as the incurrence of debt, is sourced for service delivery.

7.7. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry should report to the Portfolio Committee on the progress made in the clean up of the Hartebeespoort Dam.

7.8. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry should look at the progress made in curbing water losses in other provinces, and should implement successful practices to other provinces.

7.9. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry should undertake a study to determine the impact of urbanisation on service delivery in light of the National Water Resource Strategy (July 2004). The strategy states the requirements per Water management area and the key elements of the broad strategic perspectives.


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