It is totally unacceptable that municipalities are ignoring the legal provisions for the treatment of sewage water, and that the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is apparently indifferent to the problem.
From the reply to written questions from the FF Plus to the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, it can be gleaned that only thirteen out of ninety municipalities responded to written instructions issued by the Department relating to these municipalities' inadequate treatment of wastewater at their water plants. (Questions and replies are attached herewith.)
The critical condition of dysfunction at these ninety municipalities' water treatment plants was highlighted in the recent Green Drop report. Based on the report, the Department gave each municipality sixty days to submit turn-around strategies aimed at resolving the problem.
This legal instruction was simply ignored by most and in the Minister's reply, no mention is made of any action taken in this regard.
The FF Plus will insist that the Minister ensures that decisive and immediate action is taken against the accountable officials at the relevant municipalities.
Ordinary citizens who violate the country's laws are prosecuted, but there seems to be another set of rules that applies to municipal officials who violate the law, which is obviously happening in this case.
Environmental and water legislation makes provision for the prosecution of persons who allow water pollution to occur.
After the FF Plus insisted, the Blue Drop (quality of drinking water) and Green Drop (quality of treated sewage water) reports were published again last year after they were published for the last time in 2013/14.
The main objective is to address the serious problems relating to water pollution and the growing shortage of potable water.
Water is a very valuable commodity in South Africa. The large-scale pollution of the country's water sources, like rivers and underground sources, must not be tolerated – as is currently the case.
Last year when the Department reinstituted the publication of the reports, it said that it is doing so to hold municipalities accountable and that it will take decisive action against those who violate legislation. But that did not happen.
It appears to the FF Plus that the lack of action over the years has resulted in an attitude of indifference among municipalities, and that the maintenance of water plants have been neglected accordingly.
According to the Minister's reply, only six of the thirteen municipalities that responded actually submitted plans, while the other seven either asked for more time or for departmental support.
Seventy-seven municipalities simply ignored the departmental instruction.
If no action is taken against the culprits, the Blue and Green Drop reports are worth no more than the paper they are printed on. South Africa deserves better than the ANC.
Vrae en antwoorde aan die minister:
(1) Whether, with reference to his department’s statement in its report to the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation on 6 June 2022, that all municipalities whose waste water plants are in a critical condition of dysfunction were instructed to submit turnaround plans within 60 days after the publication of the Green Drop Report, he will indicate the total number of municipalities that were instructed to submit turnaround plans; if not, why not; if so, what total number of municipalities (a) did comply and/or (b) did not comply with the specified instruction;
(2) whether he will make a statement on the matter?
MINISTER OF WATER AND SANITATION
(1) A total of 90 Water Service Authorities responsible for 334 wastewater collection and treatment systems that achieved less than 30% during the Department’s Green Drop Assessment were issued with non-compliance letters and instructed to prepare and submit corrective action plans as highlighted in the Green Drop 2022 Report.
(a) Six (6) of the Water Services Authorities have complied and submitted action plans which are currently being considered by the Department as follows:
• Joe Morolong LM
• Ndlambe LM
• Koukamma LM
• Hessequa LM
• Alfren Nzo DM
• Langeberg LM
Two (2) Water Service Authorities indicated below have requested and granted additional time to develop action plans:
• Emthanjeni LM
• Dipaleseng LM
A further five (5) Water Services Authorities did not provide action plans but requested support from DWS as follows:
• Dr Beyers Naude LM
• Siyancuma LM
• Zululand DM
• Khai Ma LM
• Blue Crane LM
(b) Seventy-seven (77) Water Services Authorities did not adhere to their non-compliance letter issued.