DA says water boards are in dire straits

The Democratic Alliance has urged Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica to give urgent attention to making regional water boards sustainable.

South Africa’s water infrastructure problems are second only to Eskom’s infrastructure problems, DA spokesperson Gareth Morgan said on Wednesday. The maintenance backlog of existing water infrastructure and building new infrastructure was partly a result of various problems facing the water boards, he said.

R1,1-billion was owed to water boards by municipalities, which was comprised of R630 290 676 of current debt and arrears of R525 632 866.

Water boards are responsible for pulling together water resources within a particular area and ensuring that it was purified and delivered.

Their income was almost exclusively from the sale of water to municipalities.

South Africa has 14 water boards, the majority of which were managed fairly well and had received clean audit reports from the Auditor General in recent years.

But many faced financial strain. The Namakwa and Botshelo water boards, for example, both made significant losses in the 2007/08 financial year.

“To ensure that problems do not escalate further, the minister must place significant attention on making all the water boards sustainable. While there may be an argument in one or two cases to close a particular water board or to merge some water boards, the minister must first and foremost address the lack of payment of funds to water boards by municipalities, as well as find means to tackle infrastructure problems and skills shortages,” Morgan said.

Sonjica should ensure that the National Treasury, which had a mandate to mediate between water boards and municipalities in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act, put pressure on municipalities to pay their debts.

“Indeed, there should be punitive measures taken against municipalities that are tardy in paying.”

Sonjica should make a point of listening to the concerns of water boards in 2010.

One of the most common criticisms by CEOs of water boards that appeared before the portfolio committee in 2009 was that it was exceptionally difficult to engage with the department of water affairs or to get it to respond to issues of concern. – Sapa

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

What will power Mthethwa’s erection?

Since Eskom’s a no-go, perhaps our Minister of Monuments’ R22-m flag will be powered on arrogance and self-belief alone

Shutterland: photographers’ journeys through everyday life in South Africa

Through their lenses, 22 South African photographers tell personal stories that show how life in South Africa is built on duality

OPINION | Climate change: We are wedded to our own...

Although the answers are not simple, the warnings have been coming for more than three decades and yet leaders are still not doing what must be done

The Cat enters the ANC fray: David Mabuza speaks out

In an interview with the M&G deputy president David Mabuza ponders his political future but insists ‘it’s the branches that choose the leaders’

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…