South Africa: Water and Sanitation on National Water Month
It is indeed a great pleasure and honour to have you here today at this media briefing, and thank you for attending. The purpose of this briefing is to provide an update on amongst others, the Western Cape water supply, key water infrastructure projects to supplement water supply, enforcement and activities associated with National Water Month.
The Department has noted the sense of panic from the users regarding the decreasing dam levels, particularly the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS). There is no need to panic as the water supply system is closely and continuously monitored, even though the dam levels have decreased by 55,5% compared to 77% during the same period in 2022.
Should the need arise, the Department and users will take urgent measures to safeguard water security. However Local Authorities have the discretion to impose water restrictions based on their respective water security dynamics at any given time.
The Department further encourages all water users to continue to save water and limit their large-scale usage especially in times of severe electricity loadshedding stages as the pumps treatment and bulk storage reservoirs are under stress and the flow is low. Water users, particularly high-end users, are urged to reduce their consumption.
South Africa is a water-scarce country and water security is further threatened as supply decreases due to the negative impacts on yield arising from climate change that puts additional pressure on the naturally stressed water resources in the country, including the Western Cape. This, no doubt, puts pressure on water availability, accessibility, quality, and demand.
The recent opening of the Brandvlei canal feeder is exciting news for DWS Western Cape. The benefits accrued from the newly upgraded Brandvlei Water Feeder Canal, include much-needed jobs through agri-business opportunities.
DWS continues to fund key infrastructure projects through various grants. A total of R3 billion has been budgeted by the department for the next three fiscal years to fund infrastructure, including Budget Facility Infrastructure (BFI) projects.
The Department is still committed to reinstating full construction operations of the raising of the Clanwilliam Dam wall and is finalising the last procurement steps for the specialised services required at the start of the remaining construction work. It is anticipated that all these processes are completed within March 2023 and have operations going in April 2023.
The Department, in collaboration / partnership with Local Authorities is jointly implementing Water Conservation, Water Demand Management (WCWDM) initiatives in different communities. These include public education campaigns, anti-vandalism campaigns etc. The Western Cape boasts low levels of non-revenue water compared to other provinces. By-laws pertaining to WCWDM are strictly enforced by the Department in collaboration with Municipal Law Enforcement officials.
Western Cape is flying the flag high in quality. This was evident when the honourable Minister Senzo Mchunu released the much-awaited National Green Drop awards which regulates waste water. Western Cape Scooped 12 of the 21 Nationwide Green Drop awards.
Following the release of the 2022 National Green Drop Report which focuses on Municipal Wastewater Quality Management, the Western Cape had seven local municipalities with 18 Wastewater Systems that scored less than 30% and thus deemed to be in a critical state. To date all seven municipalities have submitted corrective action plans which were reviewed by this Department, and progress is being closely monitored. A joint Section 154(1) Task Team has been established through a collaborative partnership with the Western Cape Department of Local Government and SALGA to facilitate support interventions where necessary to ensure improvement.
This year however is a “Blue Drop” year, focussing on drinking water quality management with the final report due to be published by the Minister later this year. All municipalities upload their available drinking water quality results on the Department’s Integrated Regulatory Information System (IRIS) for the Department to monitor compliance with the drinking water standards. IRIS also allows members of the public to view the quality of drinking water and waste water in their respective areas by visiting https://ws.dws.gov.za/IRIS/mywater.aspx(link is external)
Overall compliance in the Western Cape can thus be considered good. However, there are specific areas of concern that the Department monitors closely. The Department welcomes the public to serve as the “eyes and ears” of the regulator and inform the Department of any concerns related to drinking water and/or wastewater quality management within their municipal areas.
DWS Western Cape will continue fearlessly to enforce compliance with water use and it applies zero tolerance to water related crimes. However, DWS will be left with no choice but to impose hefty fines to those water users s who persist to act in an irresponsible manner.
Minister Senzo Mchunu places a high value on partnerships. This is evidence that government alone cannot reverse service delivery backlogs. Having the media as one of our primary partners in disseminating information is exciting
Government has declared the month of March as the National Water Month. The National Water Month coincides with the World Water Day, which is observed on 22 March every year by the United Nations. The theme for 2023 is “Accelerating Change”. The key objective of the National Water month is to Increase awareness on the use, management, conservation, development, and protection of water resources.
As part of National Water Month activities, the DWS Western Cape has planned (i) outreach to schools, (ii) visiting projects, (iii) recognition of water practitioners and (iv) compliance and enforcement initiatives.
“Water is Life, Sanitation is Dignity”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Department of Water and Sanitation, Republic of South Africa.