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Government to tackle SA's water challenges

13 May 2016

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says government is reviewing the Water and Water Services Acts to ensure that the department intervenes in water challenges.

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says government is reviewing the Water and Water Services Acts to ensure that the department intervenes in water challenges.

The Minister has also urged citizens to continue using water sparingly and wisely as the country is currently faced with a severe drought.

She said this when she briefed journalists at the Imbizo Centre in Cape Town ahead of delivering her Budget Vote Speech at the National Assembly.

“As a department, we have set up interventions to support municipalities to deliver water and sanitation services in areas such as Giyani in Limpopo, Madibeng in the North West and Makana in the Eastern Cape.

“Lessons learnt in this process have partly influenced our decisions to review the Water and Water Services Acts to ensure that, as a department, we do not only intervene once systems have collapsed in municipalities, but we are given the legal mandate to deliver these services where there are inherent challenges.”

Minister Mokonyane said the review is also a way of ensuring that, instead of throwing money at problems, the department focuses on bringing on board a full capacity and support using water entities and boards to intervene and support municipalities.

“In turn, they must invest on building the required capacity to operate and maintain the water and waste water infrastructure.

“I am pleased to mention that we have since intervened to ensure that we maintain and protect the Vaal River system from contamination and have committed R300 million to this important project.

“There's significant strides that have been made in this regard, and the situation has notably changed,” she said.

Citizens urged to use water sparingly

With dam levels lower than they were last year, the Minister also said the effects of drought remain. She said that the country remains largely dry with lower than normal rainfalls that have had a minimal impact on our dam levels.

Minister Mokonyane thanked all citizens who have heeded government’s call to adopt their consumer behaviour and used water sparingly during this period.

“We remain in a gloomy situation and must continue to use water wisely. Despite the drought, we are a water scarce country and it cannot be business as usual. We must change our water use patterns and behaviour,” she said.

Leading the debate on the Budget Vote in the National Assembly, the Minister said to mitigate the effects of drought on water users, the department has spent over R500 million on emergency and short-term interventions in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, North West, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Western Cape and the Northern Cape.

Dam operating rules have been applied to 35 dams and four systems where restrictions are currently applied with regard to the water resource, resulting in mandatory restrictions on domestic and agricultural use.

Meanwhile, the Minister said the department has made great strides in the delivery of water and decent sanitation to South Africans.

“To date, as a country we have delivered access to water to 80% of our total population and 80% of our people equally have access to decent sanitation.

“While the progress made is commendable, the urgency to serve the unserved persists. Our priority and concern remains those of our people who are yet to have access to water and decent sanitation,” she said.

Department eradicating bucket system

The Minister said the department is eradicating the remaining bucket toilet system.

She said 398 bucket toilets have been eliminated in Britstown in the Northern Cape and replaced by the no-water flush system.

In the Springbok area of Namakwaland, the department eradicated a further 192 toilets in seven villages, while the North West, which had a recorded 231 bucket toilets, will soon join other provinces that have no bucket toilets. -

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