Department commits to resolving Maluti-a-Phofung water issues

Monday, June 21, 2021

Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister David Mahlobo has recommitted the department to resolving the water issues in the Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality.

Mahlobo and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Deputy Minister responsible for Traditional Affairs, Obed Bapela, led a delegation of Free State provincial leadership on a follow-up oversight visit to the Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality in Phuthaditjhaba, Free State.

The visit follows last month’s visit by Deputy President David Mabuza, which was characterised by high-level engagements with role players across the three spheres of government and representatives of Maluti-a-Phofung community structures.

Mahlobo said despite ongoing challenges with water provision in the municipality, there are a number of water infrastructure projects that are being implemented by the Department of Water and Sanitation.

“The main idea is to improve the supply of water to Maluti-a-Phofung. We have invested so much with these projects and we need to tell a story to people on what has been done and what is on-going, to improve their lives,” Mahlobo said.

Currently, three water supply schemes supply the community of Maluti-aPhofung, these include Metsi Matsho Scheme which supplies 2 950 Megalitres per year, Fika Patso Dam which supplies 23 500 Megalitres per year, and Wilge River Scheme which supplies 3 504 Megalitres per year.

“Potable water is being distributed to consumers from 69 reservoirs at these different schemes all across the local municipality. The Department of Water and Sanitation has also implemented Maluti-a-Phofung Water Supply Project which commenced in 2008, and was divided into four different phases,” the Deputy Minister said.

Among the critical projects include an upgrading of Sterkfontein Dam Water Treatment Works from 10 to 20 Megalitres per day, which is estimated to be completed in April 2022.

Another project, the drilling of QwaQwa boreholes (stages 1 and 2), which was completed in October 2020.

The Deputy Minister also highlighted the Sterkfontein Dam Water Treatment Works as the most critical component in resolving the bulk water supply challenges of Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality.

Fika Patso Dam vulnerable to drought

As things stand, Mahlobo said Fika Patso supplies close to 80% of the water to Maluti-a-Phofung, yet it is the most vulnerable to drought as was evident from the previous drought that started in 2014.

“If that system fails, the whole of QwaQwa is negatively impacted,” Mahlobo warned.

He noted that mainly, there is a challenge of water infrastructure from the four water supply schemes which do not interlink.

“Once the four schemes are interconnected, there will be augmentation of water from one scheme to another. About 100 to 228 households of Maluti-a-Phofung residents will benefit from interconnecting the schemes,” Mahlobo said.

The project is estimated to be completed in December 2024.

Engineers called to contribute to country’s development agenda

Meanwhile, delivering a recent virtual keynote address during a breakfast seminar hosted by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu called on engineers to contribute to the development agenda of the country.

Themed “The role of local engineers in the National Water and  Sanitation Master Plan Execution”, Sisulu said today’s global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic require engineering minds that would offer ground-breaking solutions, aimed at accelerating economic recovery.

“The country needs engineers that will take a lead in realising our vision of new human settlements that provide housing and comfort to our people, engineers that will help change the spatial orientation of apartheid cities and towns,” Sisulu said.

She implored NSBE members to shy away from corruption, not sign off poorly constructed infrastructure projects, and not bow to pressure to compromise technically sound decisions.

NSBE President Mdu Mlaba said the society have noted with interest the drive by Human Settlements to procure some of the properties from the State Owned Entities, including Eskom and Transnet.

“Our engineers and project managers are ready to partner with the government to convert these buildings into decent and affordable for people living in the cities,” Mlaba said. –