Assurance on water management welcomed

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has welcomed the assurance by Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu that while there are challenges with the availability of water in Gauteng, the department has the matter under control.

Committee chairperson Machwene Semenya said the committee has since its inception called for a change in users’ water consumption patterns, so that “we can conserve the little water we have.”

“The consumption patterns of clean water have always been a cause for concern. The committee urges the adoption of grey water strategies to avert high consumption levels,” Semenya said.

While agreeing on the need to reduce water consumption, the committee also believes that challenges with the provision of water cannot merely be ascribed to drought and consumption patterns.

Semenya said a key contributor to the current challenges is the state of the waste water system and obsolete bulk water infrastructure, which lead to high water losses.   

She said it’s an undisputable fact that there is a serious problem with the country’s waste water treatment system.

“The recent discharge of raw sewage from Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works into Apies River, north of the City of Tshwane; the faulty Table View East Sewage pump station contaminating Diep River and causing a nuisance in the Table View area; the burst sewage pipeline in Praktiseer in Sekhukhune, where raw sewage is flowing through people’s houses before discharging into Tubatse River, and the continuing contamination of the Vaal River system are examples of the challenges caused by the poor state of South Africa’s waste water treatment system,” Semenya said.

As a consequence of the crumbling waste water system, Semenya said, the little drinking water available is contaminated and more money is needed to clean it to an acceptable level, a cost that is then transferred to the end user.

“Furthermore, it is without dispute that underspending on maintenance of bulk water infrastructure is contributing to high levels of water loss. The inefficiencies within the system as a result of leaks and non-revenue water must be addressed if we are to safeguard the water resources in the country,” Semenya said.

Release of Water Master Plan welcomed

The committee has welcomed the announcement of the imminent release of the Water Master Plan, which will provide a blueprint on how South Africa can protect its water resources.

The committee called for a broad plan that will encapsulate and offer solutions to the entire water value chain.

“A systematic stabilisation plan must be included in the masterplan in order to address the current decline at this point to prevent a crisis situation that will cost the taxpayer even more money. Also included in the plan must be a costed plan to maintain infrastructure at municipal level to curb the ever increasing non-revenue water.

“Furthermore, strategies to recoup debt owed to municipalities and entities of the Department of Water and Sanitation must also be strengthened to ensure that these entities are empowered to deliver their services. The committee will engage the department to assess the areas of interest in the Water Master Plan,” Semenya said. –