Water News

Agencies set up to manage water use flounder

Written by  SHEREE BEGA Tuesday, 27 June 2017 07:57
Rate this item
(0 votes)

NEARLY 20 years after they were written into South Africa's National Water Act, most of the crucial agencies that have the power to authorise water use are still not functional.


The landmark 1998 Water Act provided for the progressive establishment of 19 Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs) in key water management areas across the country.
But these were later whittled down to nine, and todaY, only two CMAs exist, the Breede-Gouritz and ! Inkomati-Usuthu.
"The CMA delay is very concerning," remarks Anthony Turton, a water expert and professor at the University of the Free State. "It reflects two things ailing us. Firstly, the lack of capacity in the state, even two decades after democracy. Secondly, a deep-seated disregard for the law that has crept into everything under President (Jacob) Zuma." CMAs are required by law and their absence is a clear violation.
"While we've tolerated excuses for two decades, maybe the current crisis of confidence in the ruling party creates a window of opportunity for the public to demand the law be applied."
Even the Department of Water and Sanitation. (DWS), in its new proposed Water Quality Management Strategy and Policy, bemoans the delay.
"While there are significant challenges at the international and national levels, potentially our most significant issues from a water quality perspective reside at the more local levels. The delays in establishing, capacitating and delegating powers and duties to CMAs has meant that there has not been sufficient on-the-ground management."
Municipalities, it says, are a major source of waste water containing pollution.
CMAs and the catchment management forums are important institutional structures for engaging at the municipal level "despite the challenges that exist due to misalignment of operational boundaries, differingplanning cycles and an array of institutional complexities".
"It's nearly 20 years later, and we still don't have the government institutions in place that are designed to look after our catchments," remarks Christine Colvin, the senior freshwater manager at WWF-SA. And we need them more than ever. We need them to be functional and effective, and part of the conversation around water and economic development."
Turton, who agrees, says: "We've just been through the worst drought on record and it has shown up many weaknesses in our water resources planning and implementation. In truth, we've not yet recovered from that drought, with the Western Cape still in its grip, and the rest of the country vulnerable even if some of the dams are full.''
The purpose of CMAs is to implement catchment management strategies. "These are important because they reconcile the political aspirations on the one hand (let's build more dams and double irrigated agriculture as specified by the second National Water Resources Strategy) with the harsh reality of water availability on the other (we can't build dams and double irrigated agriculture because we simply don't have enough water).
"Without a functioning CMA, no effective long-term planning can be implemented, so no lessons from the current (recent past) drought will be learnt and we will be forced to relive the distress," says Turton.
In a 2013 paper 'Why has the South African National Water Act been so difficult to Implement?' Barbara Schreiner of Pegasys Strategy and Development says two critical factors allowed the creation of CMAs to fall behind schedule.
"The first was that those responsible for the establishment of the CMAs - heads of regional offices were not held accountable for not achieving their targets. Lack of capacity was often cited as a reason for not achieving targets but proper 'performance management and accountability were weak. The second (reason) was the questioning of decisions taken.''
DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau says the process to establish institutions is "extremely complex and requires a thorough change management process. As a result, the process to establish CMAs ... has taken time. The department is working on the rationalisation of entities to ensure improvement of governance and the financial viability of such state entities" .
This is envisaged to be completed by the end of March, he says. "The fact that there are two operational.
CMAs does belie the fact that processes to establish the other CMAs have been ongoing. There are another four that have been legally established. Business cases for the establishment of the remaining three CMAs are being completed."
Institutional reforms and realignment to rationalise the number of water management areas and CMAs were amended and "did require some of the institutional processes to be restarted.
"There have been ongoing concerns about the sustainability of these institutions and ongoing discussions about further changes to the institutional model. The department is still committed to institutional reform to strengthen our management of water resources.
"The pressure upon our water resources is increasing, and will only become worse as our country develops its social economy."
In its new policy, the DWS outlines how CMAs will be in charge of water quality monitoring, with oversight from the DWS. Through the CMAs citizen-based water monitoring programmes will be strengthened.
But environmental activist Mariette Liefferink says too often the level of community involvement in catchment management forums is low or non-existent. "It raises concerns whether civil society has a genuine influence in CMFs or only the appearance of participation."
CMFs are embedded within a political context, she believes.
"The overwhelming majority of participants are from the national, provincial and local government.
"Officials of the DWS, Rand Water and local government fail to escalate ongoing pollution incidences, which are brought to the attention of the forums, to the director-general and minister of water and sanitation because of fear of being indicted for their alleged failure of duty of care"
On the future of CMAs, Ratat says issues of non-payment of water resource charges might be a challenge to CMAs as one of their funding sources is revenue from the users.
"Issues of capacity are also a concern and the ability to attract staff with the skills and experience for managing water resources."
Hugo Retief, from the Association of Water and Rural Development, which works to protect the Olifants River catchment, agrees.
"It's a challenge to find staff with the background needed in water management. The big challenges are the scale of a catchment like the Olifants. There are over 360 monitoring
points and you have to go out once a month to take samples with limited staff."

MINING

FSE COMMENTS - Millsite Tailings Storage Facility Reclamation Project

Comments on the Millsite Tailings Storage Facility Reclamation Project: Wetland Sensitivity Mapping and Impact Assessment Freshwater Resource Assessment in the Vicinity of the Proposed Lindum Railway Decommissioning Freshwater Resource Assessment in the Vicinity of the Proposed Millsite Reclamation Surface Water Assessment Report Groundwater Assessment Report Integrated Water Use Licence Application for the Sibanye-Stillwater Rand Uranium/Cooke Operations Integrated Water and Waste Management Plan in support of the WULA   The following comments are submitted on behalf of the Federation for Sustainable Environment (FSE). The FSE is a federation of community based civil society organisations committed to the realisation of the constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being, and to having the environment sustainably managed and protected for future generations. Their mission is specifically focussed on addressing the adverse impacts of mining and industrial activities on the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities who live and work near South Africa’s mines and industries.  

Presentations at the conference "Sustainable Use of Abandoned Mines in the SADC Region"

Presentations, including the FSE’s presentation, held at the conference “Linki...

Palmietkuilen Coal Mining Project Rejected

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) has refused ...

SA NEWS

Battle to save Marico's river

De Beers has secured rights to prospect for kimberlite in the sensitive catchment of Groot Marico, but residents worry that minim firms could damage their pristine river, writes Sheree Bega

Saturday Star - No holds barred in draft National Master Plan for Water

Saturday Star January 27 2018 No holds barred in draft National Master Plan for Water   Sheree Bega   South Africa’s water scarcity could rapidly get worse as supply contracts and demand escalates due to growth, urbanisation, unsustainable use, degradation of wetlands, water losses and a decline in rainfall because of climate change. This is one of the warnings contained in the new draft National Master Plan for Water and Sanitation. Based on current demand projections, the water deficit confronting the country could be between 2.7 and 3.8 billion cubic metres, a gap of about 17%, by 2030. As of July last year, according to the draft plan, South Africa has consumed more water per capita at about 237 * /c/d than the world average of around 173 * /c/d. To address crippling water shortages, desalinated sea water in coastal areas, and treated waste water, will increasingly be brought into the water mix - together with an increase in the use of groundwater. Desalination plants should “not be implemented as an emergency scheme, only to be used intermittently or during times of drought and inadequate supply from the conventional water resources,” the draft plan cautions. “These schemes are too costly to be moth-balled for any length of time.”

THE IMPACT OF MINING ON THE SOUTH AFRICAN ECONOMY AND LIVING STANDARDS

  POLITICS WEB MINING AND PEOPLE: THE IMPACT OF MINING ON THE SOUTH AFRICAN ECONOMY AND LIVING STANDARDS INTRODUCTION AND SYNOPSIS There are two ways of looking at mining in South Africa. The first is to see it as a sunset industry plagued by rising costs, technical difficulties, and political hostility. The second is to see it as an industry well positioned for a new lease of life despite all the vicissitudes. Even though the attractiveness of South Africa for mining investment has declined, the country still has the world's richest reserves of precious minerals and base metals. Companies both large and small would like to exploit these. Some are doing so despite the political threats. Even more will do so if the threats can be effectively managed or reduced. According to the Chamber of Mines, investment over the next few years could almost double in the absence of threats.

FSE’s Preliminary Comments on the Minister of Water and Sanitation’s decision to consolidate the 9 Catchment Management Agencies into one Catchment Management Agency.

  (Reg. No. 2007/003002/08) NPO NUMBER 062986-NPO PBO No. (TAX EXEMPT) 930 039 506 Postnet Suite 87 Private Bag X033 RIVONIA 2128   COMMENTS ON THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND SANITATION’S DECISION TO IMPLEMENT A SINGLE CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT AGENCY (CMA) TO PERFORM WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT FUNCTION IN THE NINE WATER MANAGEMENT AREAS.  The following comments are submitted on behalf of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment. The Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) is a federation of community based civil society organisations committed to the realisation of the constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being, and to having the environment sustainably managed and protected for future generations. The FSE’s mission is specifically focussed on addressing the adverse impacts of mining and industrial activities on the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities who live and work near South Africa’s mines and industries.  

WATER

SUBMISSION ON THE DWS MASTER PLAN

WRITTEN SUBMISSION ON THE DRAFT 2.6: NATIONAL WATER AND SANITATION MASTER PLAN (NW&SMP)  In this document, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (“FSE”) submits comments on the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, draft 2.6 (the “draft plan”).  THE FSE:  The FSE is a federation of community based civil society organisations committed to the realisation of the constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being, and to having the environment sustainably managed and protected for future generations. Their mission is specifically focussed on addressing the adverse impacts of mining and industrial activities on the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities who live and work near South Africa’s mines and industries.    In accordance with the above-mentioned mission, the FSE’s comments are limited to matters pertaining to the mining industry. The FSE’s comments will be substantiated by real examples within the scope of the FSE’s experience and our active participation in a significant number of environmental impacts assessments, environmental management programme reports, water use license applications, environmental authorisations, steering committees, forums, task teams, teams of experts, academic research groups, boards, etc. over a period of 15 (fifteen years).[1] [1] Kindly note that the Legal Resources Centre assisted with this publication.

Coalition defending Mpumalanga water source area

Last week, the coalition of eight civil society and community organisations that...