Deputy Chairperson, 56 years ago the people of South Africa gathered in Kliptown and adopted the Freedom Charter. Allow me then to quote from the Freedom Charter:
The land shall be shared amongst those who work it!
The state shall help the peasants with implements, seeds, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers.
It is against this backdrop that the ANC-led government adopted the South African Constitution with the Bill of Rights, in particular clause 27(1), which says: (1) Everyone has the right to ... - (a) health care ... (b) ... food and water; and (c) social security ...
(2) The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures within its available resources to achieve the progressive realisation of each of these rights.
I am therefore humbled to debate under the theme "Advancing national water resource management for sustainable water supply to our people".
Water is one of the basic rights that a human being must access. South Africa faces a number of critical environmental challenges, ranging from land degradation to the obliteration of finite resources, but it is the problem of acid mine drainage that may be its most perilous hazard in terms of the ramifications.
South Africa is a country beset by a water security dilemma, whilst on the economic front the country is driven by a strong mining industry. These two trends have become more precariously positioned in relation to one another over the past decade as a result of the spewing of highly acidic water into the country's water system, endangering communities, as well as ecosystems, along the Vaal River in Gauteng and the Limpopo River.
What is putting undue stress on Gauteng province and the economy is the strained water environment that potentially undermines the agricultural and industrial sectors.
Sewage is currently threatening the World Heritage Site located in the region known as the Cradle of Humankind. The polluted water that originates from the abandoned mines is threatening residential communities residing in the vicinity, especially along the Vaal, West Rand, Ekurhuleni and Limpopo Rivers.
The ANC-led government has inherited this problem, as South Africa's gold mining industry commenced in the 1880s. The problem is due to the historical inability of the previous regime to hold the mining industry to account through the polluter-pays principle.
Due to the high costs involved, no one is willing to shoulder the burden. This then calls for a review of our policies, particularly those of the Departments of Mineral Resources and of Water and Environmental Affairs, to include the polluter-pays principle in the licences and ensure companies pay retrospectively.
The government cannot be left to bear the brunt of rehabilitating the environment and caring for the sick. We welcome the Cabinet decision to approve the plan to combat acid water drainage from the mines. The scary part of the research report is the one which cites that approximately 80% of South Africa's water will be undrinkable by 2015 as a result of severe pollution. So, the sooner we integrate policies to preserve water and water management, the better.
When I was young, I once heard that the next world war would be about water. At that time, it was just Greek to me, but now I see the reality is worse as we are experiencing the effects of global warming and climate change in different parts of our country. [Interjections.] Hon Deputy Chairperson, they are disturbing me.
Hon Mncube, please hold on. Hon Bloem, could you please move back to your seat and stop disturbing people who are debating. You may continue, hon Mncube.
Heavy rains and floods affect us in December, January, February and March, and lead to rivers overflowing. This causes floods in low-lying areas and dams being filled to capacity. When we open the gate sluices, the low-lying areas are flooded.
The absence of catchment areas allows this water to damage infrastructure, kill people and be wasted. Therefore, there is an urgent need for interventions, by building infrastructure for catchments, reservoirs and preserving water. This calls for an integrated strategy from Rural Development and Land Reform, Water and Environmental Affairs, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mineral Resources and Human Settlements.
In Gauteng, North West and Mpumalanga, we have rivers and dams which cannot be used by communities and municipalities to access water because of privatisation, water rights and water contamination.
In the North West, around the Hartebeespoort Dam, residents are currently withholding rates, alleging that the water is dirty. Communities and industries pollute water by throwing everything into it because of a lack of education and an understanding of how precious water is and what threats the country faces. There is a need to look into increasing the number of dams to contain the overflow from the rivers and existing dams.
These rivers and dams are not linked to irrigation schemes, agriculture or home use, but to individuals who use them for private purposes such as leisure and boating, whilst poor communities in rural areas and informal settlements suffer. Examples of this are the Vaal River in Gauteng, Loskop Dam, Badplaas, Jericho Dam in Mpumalanga and many more.
Access to water is a basic right that the government, communities, NGOs and businesses must fight for side by side. It is in this decade that the commitment enshrined in the South African Constitution has to be realised.
We are just fresh from the census which is going to tell us about the total population per province and then respond to the gaps identified accordingly by having short-, medium- and long-term interventions. I would like to commend the municipalities that have prioritised the supply of water to communities such as Johannesburg Metro, etc. However, a national strategy on water use and management has to be put in place to ensure that communities in the dry areas also benefit.
Lessons have to be learnt from Lesotho with its Lesotho Highlands supplying areas as far away as Gauteng. Legislation has been put in place by the ANC- led government to transform water policy, water law and water resources management between 1997 and 2011. There is a dire need to increase the pace of implementation, enforcement, monitoring and evaluation.
The government has given people seeds, tractors, spades and land for agriculture, but the main issue is access to water for irrigation, even for those people who are on the banks of the rivers.
In conclusion, let me make a call to all businesspeople, farm owners, current mining houses, former owners of mining houses and all those who hold water rights, to work together with the government, municipalities and communities to find a way of addressing this timebomb.
If we love this beautiful country, this rainbow nation, we can be more patriotic and do the right thing. I thank you. Malibongwe! [Praise!] [Applause.]
Deputy Chairperson, hon MECs present and hon members, it is common knowledge that some 98% of all available water has already been allocated in South Africa. The lack of availability of new water resources may soon become a major restriction of growth in the country.
Scarce water impacts on social as well as economic development. South Africa is the thirtieth driest country in the world and faces the challenges of a growing population and economy. The building of more dams is not always the answer.
The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs is completing the De Hoop Dam in the Limpopo province. It has recently approved the implementation plan for the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project at a total investment cost of R15,4 billion by the year 2020. This project, in addition to the existing Katse Dam in Lesotho, should ensure an adequate water supply to the Vaal system until approximately 2045.
The World Bank has in addition recently approved a loan of R554 million to support the government of Mozambique's National Water Resources Development Project which aims, amongst other things, to strengthen the development and management of national water resources and to increase the water from the Corumana Dam on the Sabie River in the Maputo province.
The Minister of Mineral Resources grants licences for mining operations with little or no interaction with the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs. Mining companies must be held accountable, as we have heard, after mines are closed, and must ensure that mine areas are rehabilitated.
Acid mine water, the result of groundwater flowing through underground shafts, is decanting from an old uranium mine near Krugersdorp and rising half a metre a day beneath Johannesburg.
Government is adamant that it is managing the problem, but despite a November 2011 deadline to start a water treatment plan, a R225 million allocation from Treasury has yet to be paid to the parastatal mandated to implement the plan, namely the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority.
It is reported that up to 43% of the R934 million requested for long-term water treatment will be spent on staff salaries, transport and accommodation and not on treating the water! Something urgent must be done before our other limited water resources are contaminated. Hopefully, some of the treated acid mine water will be suitable for at least agricultural purposes.
South Africa is amongst the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world and certainly the biggest in Africa. Many parts of the continent are vulnerable to changes of climate because of the large variability in rainfall, which has in recent history caused severe multiyear droughts and disruptive flooding in various parts of the continent.
Development projects and plans need to build in resilience to future climate change. So developments need to be designed to cope with a wider range of climate conditions than those prevailing at present.
In my own province, the Free State, the seasonal changes have adjusted by at least two or three months. Whatever the outcome at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its upcoming Cop 17 meeting in Durban, the climate will continue to warm, with dire consequences for Southern Africa, until hopefully somewhere in the future global warming will be brought under control and stabilised.
The threats to water quality in our country are numerous, whether it is failing wastewater treatment plants, bursting water pipes because of poor maintenance at municipal level, runoff from agricultural pesticides or industrial pollution. Likewise action must be taken against industries, farmers and users that are using water illegally.
Unless we start recycling water in a massive way and unless we start utilising new sources of water such as the desalinisation of sea water, used on a large scale in the Middle East, but which is an expensive process, the country's economy will not grow. New jobs will not be created and human environmental health will be put at risk.
The government wishes to create more jobs through mining and agriculture, both of which use lots of water. The Minister stated at the 2011 Green Drop Awards that despite the increase in the wastewater plants assessed, the systems that scored more than 50% had decreased from 49% in 2009 to 44% in 2011. The DA welcomes the approval of the National Waste Management Strategy and trusts that it will be vigorously implemented. I thank you.
Deputy Chairperson, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, as you may be aware, after the long protracted drought in the Eastern Cape the good rains finally came early in the year, which meant that the drought had finally been broken. I must hasten to say that the drought came at a cost as many dams ran bone-dry, which meant that severe water restrictions had to be imposed.
This also resulted in many job losses in the Gamtoos Valley and other areas. Many people were subjected to higher water charges and municipalities had to cart water at huge costs. The drought relief funding of R86 million allocated by National Treasury was not nearly enough, which meant that many municipalities had to dig deep into their own reserves.
The drought also had a huge effect on economic development, as various irrigation schemes and housing projects were put on hold. The fact that many municipalities suffered from aging infrastructure as well as a lack of operation and maintenance also contributed to the hardship our people had to endure.
Nelson Mandela Bay Metro was allocated R450 million for emergency drought relief, which is being used to bring forward the Nooitgedacht Pipeline Scheme project which will provide much-needed water for Port Elizabeth.
Currently, all the dams in the province are nearly full and it is expected that we will receive normal to average rainfall. During this time of drought we embarked on many creative initiatives to save water such as water conservation and demand management through fixing up leaks.
The investment in rainwater harvesting tanks was also welcomed by many communities. Municipalities were also encouraged to consider alternative water resources, such as the use of groundwater, boreholes, recycling and the re-use of treated wastewater and desalination, as was the case in Ndlambe Local Municipality.
The Minister of Water Affairs and Environmental in her budget speech committed her department to provide leadership on the construction of the Umzimvubu Dam as well as the construction of the Zalu Dam outside Adelaide by 2016 and 2018 respectively.
I am aware that Water Affairs has allocated R1,08 billion over the next three years through its regional bulk infrastructure grant programme. There are currently 16 projects under way in the province across all district municipalities.
Just to mention a few, there is the construction of Ludeke Dam at a cost of R995 million to provide water in the Mbizana area; the completion of the Coffee Bay regional bulk water scheme at a cost of R53 million, which will provide water to communities from Mqanduli to Coffee Bay; as well as the completion of Mncwasa regional bulk water scheme in the Amatola District Municipality area.
During Minister Molewa's visit to Ndlambe Local Municipality in April 2011, she committed her department to the provision of water from the Lower Fish River, which will provide water to Port Alfred and the surrounding areas. Most significantly, this project will ensure that the Thornhill housing project, which was put on hold due to unavailability of water, can now proceed.
I know that Water Affairs has also spent over R400 million on the rehabilitation of important irrigation schemes such as Ncora, Qamata and Gamtoos River Valley, and they are planning to raise the dam wall at the Kouga Dam.
Water is an important catalyst in all aspects of our people's lives. Therefore municipalities are being encouraged to ensure that sufficient budget is set aside through their municipal infrastructure grant funds in their integrated development plans, and to ensure that proper water sector development plans are in place.
Finally, there are various structures in the province, such as the Eastern Cape Water Committee and the provincial water forum, chaired by the hon MEC for local government and traditional affairs, which meet regularly to strategise on water-related matters. Water is a scarce resource and I want to encourage all of us to save every drop of water. I thank you.
Deputy Chairperson, distinguished guests and hon members, I'm here on behalf of the select committee chairperson, hon Qikani. I wish her daughter a speedy recovery after her accident. In less than 10 days, our nation will host the global community as part of the 17th Conference of the Parties, commonly known as Cop 17. Central to the talks of Cop 17 will be discussions on how climate change and global warming adversely affect our natural resources such as water and the environment.
Allow me to express our profound appreciation that this important event takes place on the shores of our nation and at an opportune time when we are in the process of rallying all our people to join the fight against global warming and the degradation of our natural resources.
Cop 17 is made even more significant because by 1990, already the impact of water shortage was being felt across the globe. The World Bank wrote in respect of its water policy reform programme:
Water is essential for all dimensions of life. Over the past few decades, use of water has increased, and in many places water availability is falling to crisis levels. More than eighty countries, with forty per cent of the world's population, are already facing water shortages, while by year 2020 the world's population will double. The costs of water infrastructure have risen dramatically. The quality of water in rivers and underground has deteriorated, due to pollution by waste and contaminants from cities, industry and agriculture. Ecosystems are being destroyed, sometimes permanently. Over one billion people lack safe water, and three billion lack sanitation; eighty per cent of infectious diseases are waterborne, killing millions of children each year.
This view was also shared later in the same year by the chairman of the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century at the water forum in the Netherlands, when he said:
Water has become a highly precious resource. There are some places where a barrel of water costs more than a barrel of oil. More than one-half of the world's major rivers are being seriously depleted and polluted, degrading and poisoning the surrounding ecosystems, thus threatening the health and livelihood of people who depend upon them for irrigation, drinking and industrial water.
If by 1999 there was already this great concern about the decreasing volumes of water, then indeed, 12 years later water - which for many of our people is supposed to be a basic service - should be a scarce resource.
South Africa is one of the few countries in the world that enshrines the basic right to sufficient water in its Constitution, which states that everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water. However, much remains to be done to fulfil this right. As we speak now, most of our communities, especially our rural communities, are struggling to access this basic right.
After the end of apartheid, our democratic government inherited huge service backlogs with respect to access to water supply and sanitation. People and communities at large are still complaining about this problem and the challenge to access water is becoming huge. People complain about not having water at all, not having enough water, the scarcity of clean water or having no community water supply, etc, depending on where they live.
In the Eastern Cape province ...
... ngakumbi emaMpondweni aseMpuma kunye naekwaZulu-Natal, eMzinyathi, ieMkhanyakude nakwiesiThili sasesiSonke ... [... especially among the Mpondo tribes in the East and KwaZulu-Natal, Mzinyathi, Mkhanyakude and the Sisonke district ...]
... there are still areas where they access water from a river which is a kilometre away.
In some areas that have no rivers at all or have rivers but not sufficient water, it is a struggle to get water. There are instances in which, because there is no running water for them, people would share water with animals.
This means that access to safe, potable water continues to be one of the most pressing challenges for rural communities in our country. However, going through these areas and communities, one will find pockets of water, which maybe will need to be purified for consumption or managed for irrigation purposes.
We know that the democratic government, over the past years, has tried to correct this situation by developing a number of programmes, policies and feasibility studies which seek to address the management of this scarce and important resource.
In the Eastern Cape, for example, a case study on water conservation and a demand management project implemented by the Mvula Trust on behalf of the Department of Water Affairs in Ndlambe Local Municipality, from July 2008 to March 2010, revealed that the Ndlambe Local Municipality, as the MEC has alluded to, was facing a crisis in 2008. This crisis was as a result of huge water losses, wastage and inefficiency in its water supply network, causing considerable loss of revenue and water supply shortages in many communities.
The result of this was that all the water supply sources for Ndlambe were almost dry. About 15 million people were without a safe water supply. Therefore, the Department of Water Affairs appointed the Mvula Trust to assist Ndlambe to pilot a water conservation and water demand management project. The primary aim of the project was to minimise water losses, wastage and inefficiency through social, technical, economic, institutional and legislative interventions.
As you would know, we are just coming back from a long but very interesting trip of Taking Parliament to the People, to the Mzinyathi District in KwaZulu-Natal. With regard to everything that we heard from the people of that part of the country and all their needs, the President responded by outlining all programmes that were already being implemented and those that are still in the pipeline.
He made mention, especially in relation to water, of the fact that they are busy considering expanding the water supplies, that the number of boreholes will be increased and the water treatment plant will also be expanded soon. [Interjections.] Chairperson, they are disturbing me.
Also, we will establish the small dams projects to address the lack of bulk water supply and eradicate the water tank truck delivery system.
I am a bit disturbed by some of the members here. It seems as if the items we are debating are of no interest to them. They are continually disturbing the people who are debating. If that is the case, then according to procedure I will actually be forced to tell some members to leave the Chamber. [Interjections.]
It is hon Gunda.
It is not only hon Gunda. [Interjections.] You will be the first one, hon Feldman.
They have plenty of water in their houses. That is why they are howling.
Continue, hon Magadla.
I said nothing.
In certain provinces, the quality and availability of the water from the rivers, dams and freshwater sources ... [Interjections.]
Hon Magadla, I'm sorry to disturb you. Hon Feldman, with due respect, please sit. Hon Sinclair, sorry, can you please sit down and stop being naughty. Allow the lady to continue the debate, please, I'm pleading with you.
Yes, Chair, but I'm pleading with you, Chairperson, in terms of my right, to listen to what I have to say. It's my right, it's not a privilege.
Can you do that later?
I want to ...
Time is against us here. Some members are having another meeting immediately after this. Can you put it in writing, please?
No, Chairperson, on a point of order: I want to raise that I honestly said nothing in terms of the remarks made, and you said I would be the first one to leave the House. It's unfair and so I want you to reconsider your position.
You are not Feldman, you are Sinclair. Sit down. [Laughter.]
Yes, but Mr Feldman is sitting on that side.
Please, it's not me. Sit down, Mr Sinclair; please, sit down.
Chairperson, despite all these things, allow me to express our profound appreciation to the ANC government for its commitment to looking at all possible means to advance national water resource management for a sustainable water supply to our people.
As our former President, President Nelson Mandela, once stated when he made a humble plea:
Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
Let us all remain resolute in our national quest to ensure that our people have access to clean water and that we continue to build more avenues and systems for water resource management preservation. Thank you. [Applause.]
Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, hon members of the House access to water is internationally recognised as a basic human and fundamental right. Water is part of the socioeconomic processes that play an important role in improving human livelihood and reducing poverty.
Moreover, water is essential to energy resources, manufacturing processes and industrial activities required for economic development. The fundamental principle that guides the National Water Act, Act 36 of 1998, is that water is a national resource that is owned by the people of South Africa.
The state has custodianship over the use of this resource. This use includes the management of this resource in a holistic, environmental and ecological manner. Therefore the state must create the ultimate vision for a lasting solution.
In South Africa, 45% of our population lives on less than US$1 a day and government, in its New Growth Path, has identified water as a strategic catalyst for the achievement of the economic growth objective. Proper water management and co-ordination of these resources therefore is of critical importance.
One of the main challenges, with regard to water management in South Africa, remains how to turn concepts and strategies into practical action on the ground. We live in the most unequal society in the world; therefore different South Africans face very different water challenges.
Safe access to water can avoid more than 2 million preventable deaths a year. It increases for many people the ability to work and reduces child labour and school absenteeism.
Rapid unplanned urbanisation, climate change that results in poor rainfall, lack of skills in the water sectors and aging infrastructure are just a few of the issues facing water management in South Africa. Within the rural setting the challenge in getting water to people is that villages are usually located at remote points from the infrastructure.
In addition, many South African municipal waste treatment plants are not performing to acceptable standards as far as water is concerned. A lack of skills, financial capacity and infrastructure investment exacerbates this problem.
Political will is required to overcome this administrative and management challenge. While South Africa has an advanced National Water Act that has all the legal clauses required to take action against the municipalities and industries that transgress against discharging their duties, standard implementation is often lacking. I thank you.
Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, hon MECs, hon members and special delegates, the promulgation of the National Water Act, Act 36 of 1998, marked a new era in the management and delivery of water resources in South Africa.
Water as a catalyst and cornerstone of socioeconomic development must be managed, protected, conserved and allocated in the best interests of all South Africans and in accordance with the principles embedded in the National Water Resources Strategy, the NWRS.
To date, the current water resources storage facilities have, to some extent, responded positively to the needs of South Africans. However, there are still major challenges to overcome.
We all know that South Africa's water resources are limited. Studies have indicated that some water resource systems are already in deficit. If water is not conserved and allocated equitably, it will undermine the country's transformation agenda. Some provinces do not have adequate water resource storage facilities. Cases in point are the Lowveld area in Mpumalanga and the eastern parts of the Free State.
Municipalities in these areas are unable to provide reliable water services to their communities, due to a lack of storage facilities. This limitation hinders the country's ability to meet the 2014 water and sanitation targets. In this regard, the key limitation is the absence of institutions of water resource management and water boards in most parts of the country.
The design arrangement was that there would be catchment management agencies that would be responsible for water resource mobilisation management and allocation. Seventeen years into our democracy, these have not been established, and this is the case in most parts of the country.
Further, most parts of the country - especially the nonmetropolitan areas where municipalities are relatively weaker due to financial constraints - do not have water boards to undertake the functions of producing bulk potable water. These failures by national government mean that the relatively weaker municipalities have to perform these two functions or accept that they will not be able to ensure their communities' access to a water supply.
Parliament needs to seriously probe the reasons for the failure to create catchment management agencies or establish water boards in areas where there is a need for provision of bulk purified water services.
The SA Institute of Civil Engineers recently released a report on the state of water resources infrastructure in South Africa. Water resources infrastructure received a D-minus; simply put, it means that there are areas of concern about how the country's dams are being managed by the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs.
Of concern, according to the report, is the lack of sufficient maintenance and neglect of ongoing capital renewals. Furthermore, the report also indicated that salinity and purification constitute a threat that will lead to an increase in treatment costs. These things lead to a situation where water boards incur higher costs for water treatment, which they intend to pass on to the municipalities through high bulk-price increases, as we have seen in the past two years. Municipalities are then left with no option but to pass these increases on to consumers.
Unfortunately, the impact of all these things is that there is an increase in levels of nonpayment for services, which in turn leads to municipalities being unable to pay the water boards. This undermines the financial viability of our municipalities and, ultimately, service delivery and the democratic transformation project.
This indicates that water equality management has far-reaching implications beyond the water sector. It is about the very functionality of our municipalities and the democratic transformation project.
Water is life and, therefore, indispensable. Some communities do not have access to water resources because they are being told by the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs officials that the available water resources are fully allocated.
In many cases, this allocation is historical and allocated in favour of the previously advantaged, especially farmers. Needless to say, this is an issue of importance from the perspective of redressing the imbalances of the past. From our point of view, this is a transformation blind spot of the water sector. Parliament needs to facilitate a review of the allocation of the country's resources. In part, this may necessitate a focus on how and by whom decisions on water allocation are taken, in addition to reviewing the historical allocations.
We know that some parts of the country are going to face constraints in respect of access to fresh water due to climate change. As a means of adaptation to climate change some coastal municipalities will increasingly have to rely on seawater desalination.
This is currently an expensive option, in terms of both capital and operating costs. The question we are asking is: If national government is responsible for water resource mobilisation and management, why are municipalities made to contribute to the cost of investing in desalination plants?
We propose that Parliament should make a ruling that water desalination and water demand management should be seen as part of water resource mobilisation and management, be made a responsibility of national government and be funded as such.
In conclusion, going forward, water resource management should indeed make room for local voices for it to resonate with the country's democratic transformation project. I thank you. [Applause.]
Deputy Chairperson and hon members, I bring greetings from the Gauteng provincial government, led by the hon premier, Nomvula Mokonyane.
Water is a constitutional right and we need to ensure that there is universal access to water for all our people. They should have access to affordable and quality water. At the same time, we must also manage this natural resource for our future generations.
Gauteng has a strategy on sustainable water supply and water quality, and I realise that it is in line with the topic of the debate today of "Advancing national water resource management for sustainable water supply to our people".
Since 2005, the national Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, in partnership with our province and other key stakeholders, has been planning and driving the process for an adequate and sustainable water supply to Gauteng. The sector departments in the province, various industries and interested stakeholders have been participating in the process.
We had a water summit in 2005, which paved the way for the collaboration between sector departments and municipalities as to the requirements and recommendations made at the summit. Other water indabas have also been held to report on progress and to strategise. This has paved the way for the development of the Water for Growth and Development initiative in Gauteng.
The province has also conducted many studies with the objective to determine whether a sufficient water supply will be available to boost the economic growth and development for Gauteng. One of the key studies finalised was the Vaal River System: Large Bulk Water Supply Reconciliation Strategy in 2009.
The study focused on the supply area of the Vaal River system, which stretches from Gauteng to the Mpumalanga Highveld, the North West province, the Free State and the Northern Cape. The Vaal River system was augmented by schemes from the Tugela and Usutu Rivers, as well as the Lesotho Highlands Project, to meet the growing water requirements and interbasin transfer schemes.
Other studies that were concluded were the Gauteng Water Sector Plan and the implementation strategy, which was developed in 2006, covering the period 2006 to 2011. In September 2008, the municipal water indabas were held to develop regulations and to look at skills plans, financial plans, asset management plans, sanitation plans, as well as an integrated water resource and conciliation strategy.
During 2009, the Blue Drop Certification was developed for drinking water and quality management, and the Green Drop Certification was developed for waste water management nationally. Our province, in partnership with the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs and the Rand Water Board - at least we do have a Rand Water Board, a water utility in Gauteng - also carried out studies on water losses in municipalities and implemented projects for water conservation and water demand management.
We do want to salute the municipalities in Gauteng, led by Johannesburg, for taking this matter of conserving water very seriously. In 2009, the province conducted a status quo report on all the waste water treatment plants in the province, covering the age of the plants, type of technology, capacity and overloading, staff capacity, as well as skills, functionality, analysis of effluent compliance and the operations and maintenance issues.
We do acknowledge that South Africa is indeed a water-scarce country and Gauteng, being the economic hub, needs to support the growing demand for water required by the developing economy and population. As such, we are at work, addressing challenges such as rapid urbanisation. We cannot stop people coming from other provinces into our province, into Johannesburg, with the hope of getting jobs and shelter, so we welcome them with open arms in Gauteng.
We are also addressing issues of service delivery backlogs and their related impact; job creation; skills shortage; sustainable free basic services - in particular, access to water; as well as waste water quality compliance. Not all of our metropolitan areas are located close to major rivers which can support the water supply. All of the above challenges in some way or another have an impact on water and the environment; hence, our municipalities have taken this matter very seriously and have committed themselves to sustain water resources.
We also believe that the citizens of Gauteng and South Africa have a role to play. The role of citizens must be developed via training and education. The middle and high-income groups, however, tend not to appreciate the seriousness of water conservation and demand management required in the province and the country.
We are, however, addressing this matter with the citizens of Gauteng. It is important for all of us to treasure water. All households have a responsibility to work with the municipalities and sector departments to ensure that water is used appropriately and conserved.
We have also agreed on various mitigating approaches and strategies to sustain the water supplies in our province, which include rainwater harvesting. We believe that rainwater harvesting is very relevant and effective in the urban edge of Gauteng.
Most informal areas are farmland, which creates an investment problem in line with government policy. We have, however, agreed with various municipalities and the farming sector that we must indeed harvest the rainwater. This will also improve the lives of the poor who live off the land, in terms of access to water for local farming, cooking, drinking and bathing.
We have also looked at the role of the agricultural sector, as well as mining, because we believe that these sectors also consume a lot of water. Agriculture and mines have a great role to play in water usage, water recharging and water pollution.
In agriculture, the use of water from the Vaal River system is important, as it reduces the available water resources to power our economy. The use of fertilisers and run-off from the farming operations can also pollute the river water and lead to additional expenses in the purification process.
We have had various meetings with our farmers, and we have all agreed that we really need to look at mitigating the challenges. In the mining sector, seepage of water into the mines is a challenge, and it has to be regularly pumped out for mining operations to continue.
I am happy that hon Mncube, who spoke before me, has addressed the challenge of acid mine drainage, something which we are also addressing in Gauteng. Therefore I am not going to waste time by referring to that. It has been adequately covered. We therefore believe that the monitoring of mining operations and their impact on the environment must be regulated by the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs.
The pillars of the Water for Growth and Development Framework strategy are the following. The first pillar is about strengthening sectoral co- operation and planning. We believe that the government alone cannot achieve the management of water resources in a sustainable manner.
Therefore we feel that we need to work together with other stakeholders, wherever they are. This is also about a water mix which should be at the forefront of planning, looking at the water supply, as well as looking at surface water, groundwater, return flows and waste water, as we discussed.
We are also committed to ensure that ...
Hon member, may I disturb you for a moment. Hon Tau?
Deputy Chairperson, whilst listening to the hon member giving such beautiful input, is it parliamentary for Members of Parliament to eat in the House whilst an MEC, in particular, is addressing us on matters that affect her province? Thank you.
Hon members, I would ask the member who has been caught eating to stand up. [Laughter.]
It must be an ANC member!
I saw the person coming in with a food parcel. Can that person stand up? [Laughter.]
Deputy Chair, this is medicine.
You are not allowed to eat in Parliament.
No, this is medicine, Deputy Chair.
No, do me a favour and take a walk and eat outside and not inside here. [Laughter.] Do me that favour. Continue, hon MEC from Gauteng.
Deputy Chairperson, the second pillar of the strategy is to enhance financial viability and water security. We will do this by addressing service delivery backlogs in our province, together with our municipalities. We will also look at changing water-use behaviour for the future, in conjunction with awareness, education and training. We will also prioritise development according to the needs of our people. We will refurbish operations and perform maintenance on existing infrastructure. We will look at the water quality management and commission control.
The third pillar of our strategy is about resource implications. We will look at the human capital implications, financial requirements, skills development, systems infrastructure status, as well as asset management.
We have also agreed on short-term, medium-term and long-term plans for our authorities, our municipalities, to look at. We have agreed that they will include these matters in their integrated development plans, IDPs, and they must also include issues of economic development, as we deal with water management, and also look at social development, sustainability of supply, environmental protection, community acceptance and energy efficiency.
I would like to conclude ... Am I done? Thank you, Deputy Chair.
Hon member, you can conclude. We took of your minutes. [Interjections.]
Deputy Chair, I would like to conclude by saying that as we go to the Cop 17 conference, we in Gauteng are also taking this matter very seriously, and we are looking at various approaches and strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change on water resources, and also to adapt our ways of doing things in the province.
We believe that advancing national water resource management for sustainable water supply to our people is a must, if we want to create better lives for all. We all need to subscribe to sustainable development principles when we manage our scarce resources. This is because societies that subscribe to sustainable development should use resources in a way that does not affect the ability of the environment to provide these same resources to future generations. In this way, we will advance towards our ideals of the Millennium Development Goals. I thank you. [Applause.]
Deputy Chair, on behalf of the ANC, I would like to confirm that South Africa is a semi-arid country with an average rainfall of about 450 mm per year, which is well below the world average of 860 mm per year. We therefore have limited water resources.
This provides us with a major challenge to ensure that we plan and research initiatives and sustainable methods to preserve our water resources. Unless we do so, South Africa will become like Somalia. Water is critical for our very existence and welfare, for both human consumption and our development as a country.
The 2002 National Water Resource Strategy states:
Water gives life. It waters the fields of farmers; it nurtures the crops and stock of rural communities; it provides recreation for our friends, our children, our families; it supports our power generation, our mines, our industries and the plants and animals that make up ecosystems. Water is the key to development and a good quality of life ...
... for all South Africa and the world.
We therefore say that to have economic prosperity, we cannot do without a proper strategy for water management. It is for this reason that the ANC in its 2007 Polokwane resolutions specifically mentioned the need for an integrated water resource management plan, particularly in terms of local government planning to ensure that water is used in a sustainable, equitable and efficient manner.
It also states that water allocation reforms and the allocation of water licences to historically disadvantaged persons must be reviewed with regard to water rights. It is the very essence of the legacy of apartheid that we are still grappling with to ensure that the poor and the disadvantaged get water, since the planning is around the perpetuation of fragmented spatial apartheid.
I am happy to note that our government, as a public trustee of the nation's water resources, has prioritised water resource management to ensure that it is in line with the Polokwane resolutions. Water should be protected, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in an equitable and sustainable manner for the benefit of all South Africans.
The National Water Resource Strategy is indeed an integrated plan to ensure that our surface and groundwater is saved and sustained, and also responds to the environmental needs of our country.
We have many positive outcomes of this strategy and water should be available to millions of our people. Everyone knows about how far we are in terms of the national targets. I am not going to talk about that, but I will only concentrate on how we manage the current situation.
Today we cannot build houses without water because the planning of our country is an integrated one. If the ANC had been in charge since 1948, we wouldn't be speaking the language we are speaking now. It is because of the legacy of the past that we are speaking as we are doing today. We are not lamenting; it is true that we are removing the dent caused by those who were very racial in their approach.
Last week, during the NCOP's Taking Parliament to the People, we heard countless calls from the uMzinyathi community. During the previsit, we went to Umvoti where we even said, as we speak now, that it will take years to ensure that the people around Umvoti get water. In terms of the status of the previous planning, it is not of our making, but we are committed to ensuring that we correct that.
In Limpopo, as we are speaking, the province has moved at least a bit in terms of taking proactive action. However, we would want to make a call to those who are implementing the building of dams that they must do so with much more passionate vigour, precisely because people can no longer wait for water. The people in Limpopo want water for agriculture, mining and consumption.
The people around De Hoop do not know whether they will get water any time soon or not, simply because there are no scientists to ensure that when the dam is totally completed they can receive water. We would like to call upon the executive to ensure that plans are made more quickly so that the pipes are not only taken to the cities and towns, but are also directed to the communities.
With regard to the issue of the Nandoni Dam in Vhembe district, the dam is complete, but the community around the dam does not receive water, not because of government but because of the shoddy work of the contractors. The pipes from the dam cannot transport water to the communities and now the litigation regarding the failure is before the courts. On the other side, people cannot wait for the court outcome. We are saying that those people must be arrested whilst the government provides an alternative so that the people of Nandoni can receive water.
Yesterday, in the local newspapers, we learnt that the Western Cape has received rainfall well below the annual average, but already there is talk of austerity measures and strict water usage controls. This could even lead to high prices of water. Water is expensive and we don't want to imagine what will happen to the poor. This is also the situation in other parts of the country.
As the MEC from Gauteng has already said, the 17th Conference of Parties of the United Nations, which will take place in Durban, should also look into this matter because part of what is causing the decrease in water resources in the country is the very fact of climate change and other factors around climate change. We might have great floods and extreme drought, but this has contributed to the shortage of water resources in South Africa.
It is fortunate that today's speakers were all positive, including the opposition, because they were in line with the strategic framework of the ANC and we congratulate them on that. As you see in this House, they have to work according to the strategies of the ruling party in ensuring that we better the lives of our people. I therefore thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
That concludes the debate. Before I ask the Secretary to read the First Order of the day, there has been a letter that has been tabled by someone complaining about the objection to the motion without notice that was read. Everybody in this House has the right either to accept or to object and all of us as South Africans should respect different languages spoken in this country.
Asicwasi muntu. [We do not discriminate against anyone.]
Therefore I am not going to mention that particular person by name, but he or she must grow up and know that people have rights as well either to accept or object. Thank you.