THE DIRE STATE OF SA’S WATER, AND WHAT WE ARE DOING ABOUT IT
The work done by OUTA’s WaterCAN initiative, led by environmental activist Dr Ferrial Adam, is fast gaining traction. WaterCAN’s seeks to ensure that South Africa’s water management, planning and quality issues are addressed by the relevant authorities. This is done through policy analysis, advocacy, education, as well as citizen science and raising awareness. During November, WaterCAN submitted a report on the national water pricing strategy and reacted to the Auditor-General’s report on our country’s ailing water boards.
The Auditor-General (AG) recently reported to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation on the 2020/21 finances of the country’s nine water boards. The AG’s report once again highlighted what South Africans already know: our water and sanitation is in a dire state.
The AG reported a total of R1.9 billion in irregular expenditure across the nine boards, with fruitless and wasteful expenditure rising by 12% from R264 million (2019/20) to R296 million (2020/21). Sedibeng Water, Amatola Water, Umgeni Water and Lepelle Northern Water were responsible for 99.6% (R295 million) of this amount. Unless water boards start maintaining infrastructure, WaterCAN says nothing will change or improve, and calls on the AG to exercise her powers and recoup unauthorised and fruitless expenditure from all the culprits. Read more here.
WaterCAN also submitted its comments on the revision of the National Pricing Strategy for Raw Water Use Charges on 2 November 2022. This strategy, issued by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) for public comment in August, provides the framework for the pricing of raw (untreated) water from a water resource or supplied by government waterworks, and the discharge of water into water resources or onto land.
We believe that new water use charges should not be discussed without addressing the current inefficiencies, wasteful expenditure and fraud in government finances. Water entities should focus on strategies for collecting outstanding debt and improving efficiencies – such as linking executive pay to successful collections. Read more here.
WaterCAN’s full submission can be found here.