Prioritise water provision and stop sewer spillages
Minister Senzo Mchunu working session meeting with municipalities in Mpumalanga
The Minister of Water and Sanitation (DWS), Mr Senzo Mchunu and his deputies, Mr David Mahlobo and Ms Dikeledi Magadzi met with local municipalities who are the Water Services Authorities and district municipalities on 07 December as part of the Ministerial working session in the Mpumalanga Province which took place from 06 to 08 December 2021.
The district and local municipalities were represented by their executive mayors and municipal managers with the provincial COGTA and Human Settlement departments.
During the engagements with the municipalities, the common challenges identified included lack of maintenance of the water and sanitation infrastructure, ageing and dilapidated infrastructure, leakages leading to high water losses, vandalism of infrastructure, mushrooming of informal settlements leading to increased water demand and pressure on infrastructure, sewer spillages and the issue of the bucket system.
In her inputs, Deputy Minister Magadzi called for the urgent prioritisation yo address the issue of sewer spillages as they have a negative impact on water resources and people’s lives. She also emphasised the importance of teaching the people to preserve the rivers and all water sources. She also emphasised the need for collaborations and to work with the private sector and other stakeholders to address the challenges. “We can’t do it alone, we must get other people who might walk this journey with us”, she said
Deputy Minister Mahlobo called on the municipalities to show commitment, plan and budget for water and sanitation projects as the Department cannot be the only funder. The deputy minister also called for the municipalities to stop the illegal selling of water to communities. He called on the municipalities to act against tampering and vandalising infrastructure and stealing water to sell to the people.
Minister Mchunu emphasised that there is no water crisis in the country but there are challenges. He called on the three spheres of government not to compromise but deliver on water. He called on the Executive Mayors to prioritise the communities and provide them with water. He also called for a stop to sewer spillages, saying these are inhumane. He also called for an end to the bucket system as people can no longer be exposed to such an inhumane system.
“We have to register the issue of stopping spillages as one priority. We need a plan. DWS, COGTA, district and local municipalities, go and craft a plan, do the sizing up, specify what needs to be done, how much it will cost and how long it will take. All affected municipalities must pledge maximum funds and then the districts and the Department should chip in”, he said. He also instructed the stakeholders to present a costed plan with committed funds to deal with the sewer spillages challenge.
Minister Mchunu also called on the municipalities to budget for the replacement of old and ageing infrastructure as they are the main causes of water losses and sewer spillages. “We need to stop the leaks leading to water losses. The project called War on Leaks is closed, it does not exist. You have to declare your own war on leaks in your municipalities. Take this matter seriously and repair pipes”, he said.
In relation to the meeting with the irrigation boards, water user associations, African farmers association and civil society, issues of illegal water abstraction, unlawful water use, water quality, non-payment and transformation. Deputy Minister Magadzi called for more collaboration and cooperation between the stakeholders. “We are in this together. The Department needs to get closer to irrigation boards, water user associations and other stakeholders”, she said.
Deputy Minister Mahlobo called for a schedule of engagements as there must be standing meetings between the Department and the stakeholders. The Department must coordinate, support, and take the leadership role. He called for the speedy transformation of irrigation boards. “We all have a shared future and shared aspirations. Water is everybody’s business, and nobody must be left behind”, he said.
For more information, contact Sputnik Ratau, Spokesperson for the Department of Water and Sanitation on 082 874 2942 or Themba Khoza on 066 301 6962
For media releases, speeches and news visit the Water & Sanitation portal at: www.dws.gov.za