Task team to review municipalities’ water service delivery mechanisms

A national coordinated task team has been set up to review service delivery mechanisms for water and sanitation services by the Departments of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and Corporative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). This was one of the resolutions adopted during a recent water summit hosted by DWS with the 144 municipalities that are water services authorities (WSAs). The task team which was established to initiate and coordinate Municipal Systems Act Section 78 processes in certain municipalities, aims to address the decline of water and sanitation services, as outlined in the recent Blue Drop, Green Drop and No Drop reports released by the Department of Water and Sanitation. The drop reports indicated a general decline in performance. Water and Sanitation spokesperson, Wisane Mavasa, said the task team will focus on the 105 municipalities that are in the critical and poor performing categories in terms of the Blue and Green Drop re ports. Mavasa said the DWS, including CoGTA, Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency, Department of Human Settlements, and National Treasury, are providing extensive support to assist water services authorities with the provision of water and sanitation services. 'This includes providing water and sanitation infrastructure grants worth more than R20 billion per annum; providing technical and engineering support and assistance; capacity building and training, and financial management advice and support. 'However, despite all this support, the drop reports indicate that municipal water services have declined sharply. This indicates that there are limitations to which support from the national government can solve the problems, and that more fundamental reforms are required,' Mavasa said. Routine maintenance and operations must be funded by revenue from the sale of water by municipalities to customers, and municipal councils must take the required decisions to prioritise budgets for this. She emphasised tha t the Water Services Act states that the WSA can approve any legal entity to function as a water services provider (WSP) in the municipality, and 'almost all WSAs in South Africa are currently both WSA and WSP'. 'The Water Services Act requires the WSA and WSP functions to be managed and accounted for separately by municipalities, but this is generally not happening. The Act states that the key role of the WSA is to ensure that the WSP provides services which meet minimum norms and standards - and this is also generally not happening, as borne out by the results of the Drop assessments,' Wisane said. Other key decisions taken at the summit include that all WSAs must develop action plans to address their drop results and submit them to DWS by the end of February 2024; training institutions should prioritise the training of uncertified process controllers to enable them to become certified; and that all WSAs must issue advisory notices without fail when their drinking water fails to meet microbiological water standards. Source: South African Government News Agency