South Africa: Budget Debate On Vote 36 – Water and Sanitation

As this Department is a new department and has the added function of delivering sanitation services, and as South Africa is still in the midst of a water and sanitation crisis, we would have expected the department to have received a greater budget.

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Drought conditions continue to ravage our country. Our dams are at critically low levels. Livestock and agricultural produce are suffering. We have had to import millions of tonnes of maize just to ensure sufficient food security levels for our people over the coming months.

Yet we are not being pro-active about maintaining the little water we do have. Alien plants exist in abundance and research advises they consume inordinate amounts of water. We continue to pollute our surface water and the fact that we are even considering ‘fracking’ which could pollute our entire underground water table, is just ludicrous.

Mines are another source of large scale water pollution. We have been warning this government about the dangers of acid mine water for years now, only to be met with ridicule from Ministers and Departments. Well now we have a serious problem and no effective solution to deal with it.

 Another grave source of pollution is from our local municipalities who are failing dismally at the maintenance, upkeep and management of sewage pipes which often burst and lead to waste effluent entering our streams and rivers. This contributes greatly to both human and livestock illnesses.

Honourable Chairperson, why is it that we do not maximize and conserve the water we have? Precious water is simply allowed to flow into the sea. Why are we not building more dams?

This Department also has the responsibility of building or funding the building of bulk water reservoirs to assist local municipalities with the storage of water.

Without water business cannot prosper. Water is key in terms of agricultural irrigation which is the leading sector in water usage followed by mining and industry and then human beings. Water is life, yet it is not being prioritized and safeguarded by government.

Greater planning, oversight and accountability will ensure proper service delivery.

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Source: allafrica

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