Pretoria – The furore which erupted over the weekend could have been avoided if the City of Tshwane had properly managed the compulsory water restrictions, Rand Water has said.
Water supply to communities west of Pretoria was cut off from Saturday, leaving residents angry and feeling like “second class” citizens.
“The city should have managed it properly to avoid confusion,” Rand Water spokesman Justice Mohale told the Pretoria News.
He said Rand Water convened technical meetings in Joburg every Monday and representatives from the city were always among the participants. The meetings discussed, among other issues, water restrictions, he said.
Mohale said all municipalities in the province participated in the throttling exercise, launched by the Department and Water and Sanitation in an effort to save dwindling water resources. Municipalities are supposed to take 15% from water supplied to residents.
Laudium residents had their water cut off without prior notice on Saturday, and this threw them into a frenzy, demanding answers and the immediate restoration of the service.
In his response to social media queries on Sunday afternoon, mayor Solly Msimanga said: “We are aware and working on the water problem in Laudium. The problem is a result of over-throttling from Rand Water as part of the restrictions.”
But that explanation was rejected by the residents, who said the city would have known before implementation. “We would have been warned and told to prepare,” a resident said at a public meeting to discuss the water situation in Laudium. The residents held an emergency meeting, where they said 36 hours without water, with no official explanation, was a sign of disrespect.
They said it was a service delivery and human rights violation and wanted the mayor to address them on the matter. The municipality acknowledged the lack of water in the area and dispatched 10 tankers of 10 000 litres each to the affected communities, adding four more by Monday morning.
City spokesman Lindela Mashigo said reservoirs had become low by Saturday. When water started trickling into the area Monday morning, he said: “The reservoir recovered a bit and managed to supply water to low lying areas.”
The high lying areas would battle until there was enough water to apply pressure upwards, he said. Night time when water use was very low would allow that, Mashigo added.@ntsandvose
JOHANNESBURG – According to the Water Efficiency Report released by ActionAid South Africa on Tuesday, big business should be taking the lead in helping to deal with the country’s water crisis. Because of the threat that water scarcity problems pose to both the social and economic stability of the republic, it urges industry to become involved, at least as much as government, in addressing the issue.
Perhaps there is even a space for a water innovation industry to sprout, much as the renewable energy industry has burgeoned in the face of policy uncertainty and pressing need.
“Companies, whether they are big, small or medium, are all going to be affected by the water crisis one way or another,” says water expert Anthony Thurton, who contributed to the report. “Some of them are going to be affected negatively and they’re going to either ignore it – in which case they will become victims of the situation – and others are going to be very progressive and very positive about it, and they are going to change their business model and tailor it to the new reality.”
Thurton is also the director of water technology company Gurumanzi, which provides ‘uninterrupted water supply solutions’ that address the water risk problem much like an uninterrupted power supply eases concerns over load-shedding and other power cuts. It provides a back-up water reserve that lasts up to 48 hours, that can be rented by households, schools, hospitals, and even residential or business estates.
“There are many examples of solutions that companies are working on and they are all disrupters, or game changers in their own right,” says Thurton, referring to one company that is in the process of developing a solution that treats borehole water to improve its quality.
Privatisation is controversial
Johann Boonzaaier is the chief executive manager of the Impala Water Users Association, which owns a dam in KwaZulu-Natal in the only area that has not been affected by the drought because Impala was able to sell water to the municipality. The dam is about the same size as Hartbeespoort Dam and, according to Boonzaaier, would cost around R600 million to build at today’s prices.
But he says privatising water is a controversial topic because access to water is a basic human right. He believes there is much to be done with regard to regulations in such a scenario. He points out how Eskom’s price increases have had a dire impact on the economy and that this would be magnified if the price of water were to rise to match its scarcity.
“The danger of that is that many peoples’ livelihood depends on that water,” says Boonzaaier, “and if you get industries that can pay the highest price, then what will happen to the majority of farmers who farm for subsistence and cannot afford to pay that price?”
The report also notes that making agricultural irrigation systems more efficient could save up to 40% of current water use.
“Another question is, what is the value of water? For us, the value of the water use is the total cost of maintaining the resource. But in the Western Cape, the price is four times what ours is. So how do you decide? You must remember that, you can get along without food for a while, but if you go two days without water you’re bound to perish.”
Thurton says the National Water Act and the Water Services Act are under review, and that there is a drive to have them amalgamated into one piece of legislation to address the changes that are necessary to improve water efficiency. One of the suggested changes would see residential estates being regarded as water service providers: they buy bulk water from the local authority and distribute it to their users.
South Africans use 235 litres of water per day, while an average world citizen uses 173 litres of water per day. If municipalities could reduce the per capita consumption to the world average, the demand-supply gap would be reduced by almost half – SA Water Efficiency Report 2016
“In effect, what that will do is it will privatise a certain portion of the value chain, and that will open up a whole new way of doing things… On the one hand it presents new business opportunities but on the other it is completely uncharted territory,” Thurton says.
Providing water is government’s responsibility
The report states that, while there are already acute water shortages in 6 500 rural communities, the problem will spread to the metropolitan areas. It states that, by 2030 there will be a 17% supply deficit, with the large cities being the worst affected.
“Cape Town, which falls within the Berg Water Management Area, will need to close a gap of about 28% to meet demand,” reads the report.
But Emily Craven from ActionAid South Africa says the intention of the report is not to start a dialogue on privatisation, but rather how to eradicate the inefficiencies within the country’s water eco-system. In some cases, this would lead to the companies that are directly responsible for those inefficiencies benefiting financially from perpetuating them.
Says Craven: “It would be a bit worrying if the first response from a report like this is a debate on water privatisation. Ultimately, it is government’s responsibility to ensure that people have access to clean, healthy water. That said, there is space for technology to be used to improve the system… We have seen it where mines have water purification plants that allow them to put water back into the system… What worries us is when the monetary value is put into the equation. Because mines are the biggest polluters of the water, essentially what you would have is municipalities buying their own water from the mines that polluted it in the first place”.
“Make sure that you use water more than once so that we can ensure that those (who) are not serviced do get services,” said Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane at the launch of the Bulk Water Supply Scheme in the iLembe District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.She appealed to the beneficiaries of the Lower Tugela Bulk Water Supply Scheme to not only save water, but to reuse it too.
The R1.32-billion project, which was launched on 22 March, includes the infrastructure required to abstract and treat water from the uThukela River to supply to secondary bulk and reticulation networks within the iLembe District Municipality.These networks will supply both developed and unserved areas. On completion, the scheme will reach a total of 750 000 inhabitants.”As we continue to bring this infrastructure into place, let us ensure that we do not do illegal connections, steal water or destroy infrastructure,” Mokonyane said.She encouraged those who could afford to pay for water services to do so, while those who could not pay should register as unable to pay.”The first phase of the Umgeni component is due for commissioning by May 2016,” she said. “The first phase is designed to produce 55 mega-litres of potable water per day. The design, however, is such that it is relatively easily upgraded to a 110 mega-litre plant.”Some 1 163 job opportunities have been created by the project to date.
Durban – The eThekwini Municipality has launched an investigation into an unofficial leaked document alleging that the city would be implementing water restrictions.
In a letter to ratepayers Mayor James Nxumalo said the decision to investigate the document was made by the municipality’s executive committee (exco) on Tuesday.
A schedule for water restrictions was widely circulated on social media this week detailing times for restrictions in various areas in the city.
Nxumalo said the investigation would establish who leaked the document and the motive.
He added that the municipality has been taking measures to reduce water consumption by 15% as requested by MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube.
“Any planned restrictions will be carefully considered and proper consultation with affected communities will take place before water curtailing measures are implemented.”
According to Nxumalo, the municipality’s water and sanitation head, Ednick Msweli, had said water restrictions would be a last option after all other water saving measures had been exhausted.
“The report, which has caused a lot of unnecessary panic among the public, is not an official report by the city.
“There is a process to deal with documents in council, starting from the head of a department, progressing to a committee and then the executive committee and then council before it is approved. This report did not come before a committee.”
Nxumalo said a special full council meeting would be held on Friday during which the eThekwini water and sanitation department would make a presentation.
“This will inform [councillors] of the current drought situation as well as measures being taken by the city, including that there would be no water rationing.
“In light of the drought crisis we have implemented measures such as installing restrictors and education campaigns on water conservation.”
More than 50 000 restrictors have been installed already, he said.
Areas where restrictors have been installed include Welbedacht East and West, KwaDabeka, Ntuzuma, Mount Moriah, uThongathi, Verulam, La Mercy, Westbrook and uMdloti which had been supplied from the Hazelmere Dam system since April 2015.
Developers Alstom have claimed its new train manufacturing site will deliver 3,840 coaches over the next ten years
The 60,000 sqm site in the town of Dunnotar, close to Johannesburg, is currently under construction through the developer’s joint venture company Gibela.
Construction of its new manufacturing site which began on 4 March, is in order to build 580 suburban trains for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
Its site was opened in the presence of the South African Minister of Transport, Minister Dipuo Peters, the executive Mayor of the local Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Mondli Gungubeleand, Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Alstom chairman and CEO and Mr Marc Granger, Gibela chief executive Officer.
Building is expected to take 18 months and will be delivered in phases, with the very first South African-manufactured train to be completed by the end of 2017.
Alstom claim around 1,500 people will be employed at the manufacturing, assembly and testing facilities.
They say the site will include an academic training centre, large workshops, office buildings, as well as a test track and test facility required for the new trains.
Alstom Chairman and CEO Henri Poupart Lafarge said Alstom was pleased to have reached another milestone for the project.
He added, “This new factory will be a catalyst for the revitalisation of the rail industry in South Africa through local manufacturing, high local supply level, employment creation and skills development. Alstom is proud to be involved in this new era of rail in the country”.
Alstom has been present in South Africa for many years and was awarded a PRASA contract worth around US$4.3 bn in October 2013, the largest contract in the history of the company.
The contract also includes a 19-year service agreement.
WILDLANDS, a leading Hilton environmental NPO, is dedicated to conserving South Africa’s biodiversity and, with the Msunduzi Municipality, launched the “Kerbside Programme” in 2013.
The kerbside-orange bag programme is aimed at providing residents with a convenient and hassle-free recycling collection service.
“Wildlands is proud to say it assisted the Msunduzi Municipality with the establishment of the orange bag recycling model. However, after almost three years of recycling collections Wildlands has decided to hand over this service and the rolling out of this programme to the new and upcoming network of SMMEs. We are shifting our focus to more catalytic interventions that have defined socioeconomic benefits,” said Wildlands CEO, Dr Andrew Venter.
Wildlands will now focus its efforts on its wastepreneurs, community members who collect and barter their waste for livelihood support and school networks. These are both strong networks that have a significant impact on waste management in the two municipalities, Msunduzi and uMngeni.
“As Wildlands we convey our sincere and heartfelt appreciation to the Msunduzi Municipality for their amazing contribution and continued support in ensuring the kerbside programme success, and as a result will continue collecting from the seven recycling villages which we have across the two municipalities, because these provide an important community service,” said Venter.
The recycling villages can be found at Hayfields Mall, Quarry Shopping Centre in Hilton, Greensdale, WESSA in Howick and Curry’s Post in Nottingham Road.
Emakhazeni – The Emakhazeni local municipality in Mpumalanga is investigating an official who is accused of deliberately supplying dirty water to the community of Siyathuthuka township in Emakhazeni.
The municipality’s executive mayor Hamza Ngwenya confirmed with a News24 Correspondent that an investigation was under way and that the official has since been moved from his position.
“There’s an employee who is suspected of channelling water directly from the dams bypassing the water purification process and feeding it directly to the community for consumption. This is a matter the municipality is still establishing the facts [about] with a view to deal with it administratively,” said Ngwenya on Wednesday.
On Monday, the entire township was brought to a standstill, when the community blocked all access roads to protest against dirty water and allegations of corruption by an official in the municipality.
Residents claim that the upheaval was sparked off by the flow of dirty black water from taps for more than a week.
“For more than seven days we were forced to buy water for drinking and bathing because the tap water was so dirty and black,” said a protesting resident who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Another resident said a local hospital advised him to boil water before consumption after his daughter fell sick, which could be an indication that the illness may have been caused by the water quality.
‘Difficult’ for the municipality
Provincial health department spokesperson Chris Nobela confirmed an increase in the number of patients with sicknesses that could be linked to the consumption of untreated water.
He said this, however, happened in December 2015.
“Between the 17th and 25th December (2015), the HA Grove Hospital in Emakhazeni treated 19 patients for stomach cramps and diarrhoea, and the patients were being advised to boil the water before use, and since then the situation has normalised,” said Nobela.
Ngwenya acknowledged that it was difficult for the municipality to deal with the matter.
He said as a precautionary measure, the municipality has shifted the official responsible for the water treatment plant to another department while investigations were still continuing.
“The issue of water quality cannot be resolved overnight, especially if it is true that there’s a person who is sabotaging [efforts to supply clean water]. I’m told by the manager that the suspect has been removed from the plant and placed in another department,” said Ngwenya.
He also disclosed that the water infrastructure in Emakhazeni local municipality was no longer capable to match the township’s rapid growth.
“Our infrastructure is no longer able to keep up with the population growth, while there has never been the upgrading of the infrastructure,” said Ngwenya.
He said, however, the department of water affairs would be installing the requisite infrastructure.
“There’s a project that we are going to be implementing through the [national] department of water and sanitation to improve the water infrastructure. According to the department of (water and sanitation), the contractor would be on site by April,” said Ngwenya.
In terms of the department of water affairs’ Blue Drop water audits conducted in 2014, Emakhazeni is described as Mpumalanga province’s 8th worst performing water service authority of the province’s 18 municipalities.
Emakhazeni’s overall Blue Drop score is a mere 50%.
“The Municipality has not maintained a comprehensive water safety planning process since the previous water safety plan was developed in 2012. Corrective actions identified in the 2012 risk assessment are still outstanding and limited implementation of any recommendations provided in the 2013 process audits,” reads the report.
The only time Emakhazeni’s water quality received a Blue Drop certification was in 2011 when it achieved a score of 89%.