No crisis in the security of water supply; water safety - Minister

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pretoria - The country's water is safe for consumption and there is no crisis in the security of its water supply, says Department of Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Lindiwe Hendricks.

Speaking at a Social Cluster media briefing on Monday, Minister Hendricks said regular water quality tests were conducted and samples were taken nationwide from water supply systems and reports indicated that all samples complied with the health quality requirements.

The minister, however, acknowledged that the quality of water in some municipalities may not meet the required standard due to old and ageing water resource infrastructure, adding that the department has put a system to assist with the overall management of drinking water quality.

"We are exploring the most cost-effective and appropriate options to augment the country's water supply as complementary alternatives to the traditional augmentation schemes such as the construction of dams and inter basin water transfers."

She said the department has allocated an additional budget to the current Municipal Infrastructure Grant and the Bulk Infrastructure Grant.

During the current term, an additional 1.465 million households have been provided with basic access to water supply thus increasing access from 80 percent to 91 percent measured against the 2004 base.

With regard to sanitation, an additional 1.16 million households were served with basic sanitation thereby increasing access from 66 percent to 74 percent measured against the 2004 benchmark.

She further said, the schools programme has served 51 schools with water facilities and 125 with sanitation in the last financial year and the remaining 3035 schools will be addressed by December 2010.

"All schools in this country will have basic access to water and sanitation," the minister said.

The cluster also acknowledged the significant progress made with regard to the provision of basic access to water and sanitation, electricity and collection of refuse from households.

However, the minister said, government was still concerned about the number of households who still do not have access to these basic services.

In this regard, she said Cabinet decided in January 2008 to integrate all the targets and work towards universal access by 2014.

The Department of Water Affairs, she said, will be providing an additional R500 million in 2009/10 in order to deal with some of the immediate challenges in the provision of water and sanitation. - BuaNews