The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa sets out water resources management as a national competency. It also states that everyone has a right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well -being and supports socially justifiable economic development. The Constitution indicates the rights of individual to have access to basic water and sanitation and sets out the institutional framework for the provision of these services.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), guided by the Constitution of South Africa and the National Water Act, is the public trustee of the nation’s water resources. The Minister of DWS must ensure that water is protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner, for the benefit of all persons and in accordance with its constitutional mandate. The Minister is ultimately responsible to promote environmental values and adhering to the statutory obligations of the Constitution. The Minister also has the power to regulate the use, flow and control of all water in South Africa.

Over the past several years, there are numerous indications that water and sanitation quality and management is not being conducted at the levels expected and required for the best interests of the people of South Africa. It is is for this reason that OUTA’s strategy to hold governing authorities to account on pertinent public interest matters, and in January 2017, set its sights on water issues, predominantly at a national and ministerial level.

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