The South African Water Caucus (SAWC) has written to the Honourable Minister of Water and Sanitation to present a set of far-reaching recommendations which, if accepted, would significantly improve water governance in SA. This follows the November 2017 publication of the SAWC’s damning “State of the DWS” report, which paints a bleak picture for water security in SAIn its letter, SAWC also requests a meeting with the Ministry and Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), as well as ongoing, long term dialogue to support what it considers one of government’s most critical portfolios.
Download the letter here.
Due to our long-standing involvement in the water sector; our ongoing engagement with senior officials and regional managers in DWS; and our knowledge and experience with local, community water-related challenges, we believe we are able to play a meaningful role in addressing challenges in the water sector. In this regard, we outline critical actions and steps that are urgently needed and request that the Ministry and DWS prioritise and proactively realise these actions. These include the following.
- Catchment Management Agencies: Hasten the establishment of remaining seven CMAs and reinvigorate capacity-building in CMAs to ensure that they are fully functional as soon as possible.
- Water Tribunal: Ensure the Water Tribunal is properly resourced and supported; to ensure it functions in a manner that is accessible and cost effective for communities and civil society organisations and in accordance with the principles of the National Water Act.
- Compliance monitoring and enforcement: Prioritise and allocate appropriate resources, including funding, staff and training for compliance and enforcement capacity.
- Strategic Water Sources Areas: Prioritise the legal protection of our Strategic Water Source Areas, in collaboration with other departments, and allocate appropriate financial and human resources to ensure the effective management, protection and restoration of these areas.
- Green Drop-Blue Drop Reports: Recommit to and prioritise the effective functioning of the Blue Drop-Green Drop reporting system and establish structures to undertake effective remedial action in response to the findings of Blue Drop-Green Drop reports.
- Remediation of dysfunctional wastewater treatment works: Develop an urgent plan, with appropriate funding and resources, to address wastewater treatment works in condition of ‘critical risk’.
- Treatment of acid-mine drainage: Develop an urgent plan to regulate and manage treatment of acid-mine drainage.
- Upliftment of automatic suspensions: Review all decisions made by the previous Minister to uplift suspensions made in terms of section 148(2)(b) of the National Water Act and develop and adopt guidelines for the future exercise of this discretionary power.
The Ministry and Department of Water and Sanitation’s work is central to South Africa’s water security, development, dignity and well-being. SAWC acknowledges the enormity of the important task before the Minister. We also know that the Minister has inherited a department in a state of institutional crisis; with severely deteriorating water infrastructure; at a time when our water security is under considerable threat. We are in a strong position to play a constructive role in responding to these challenges and look forward to a favourable response in relation to engagement with the Minister and Department.