Water News

LETTER TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

 

Dear Mr Jones,

 

I thank you for your brief response.

 

Permit me please to copy Commissioner Ameermia, Ms Chantal Kisoon, Ms Yuri Ramkissoon and Mr Matthew du Plessis on this e-mail, since my organisation (the FSE) and I have engaged with them in the past as well as with Ms Janet Love, a former Commissioner of the SAHRC. The FSE was/is also a member of the Commission’s Section 11 Advisory Committees on Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), unregulated artisanal mining and recently the National Hearing on the Underlying Socio-economic Challenges of Mining-Affected Communities in South Africa.

 

Permit me now to, as an established human rights defender, and member of inter alia the Department of Water and Sanitation’s:

  1. Water Sector Leadership Group
  2. Sustainable Development Goal 6 Task Team
  3. Catchment Management Fora (CMF) including the Rietspruit Catchment Management Forum, the Blesbokspruit CMF,  the Wonderfonteinspruit CMF, the Mooi River CMF, etc.
  4. Strategy Steering Committee on the Reconciliation of the Integrated Vaal River System

 and on behalf of the FSE, respectfully report as follows:

 

Since the Commission’s Hearings and the Defence Force’s intervention, Rand Water reported exceptionally high e-coli counts and elevated total ammonia, which are indicative of sewage pollution, at the last Department of Water and Sanitation’s (DWS) Rietspruit Catchment Management Forum (attached).  The instream water quality downstream of the Sebokeng@Rietspruit Waste Water Treatment Works showed e-coli counts of 6,539,700 per 100ml and ammonia levels of 17.  According to the instream water quality guidelines for the Rietspruit Catchment e-coli counts of more than 400 counts per 100ml and ammonia levels of more than 5 are unacceptable. 

 

It follows hence that the situation has not improved but deteriorated.

 

The situation is not unique to the Rietspruit Catchment.  The recently launched National Water and Sanitation Master Plan reported that:

  • 56% of waste water treatment works and 44% of water treatment works are in a poor or critical condition;
  • 11% of this infrastructure is completely dysfunction;
  • Between 1999 and 2011 the extent of the main rivers in South Africa classified as having a poor ecological condition increased by 500%, with some rivers pushed beyond the point of recovery;
  • South Africa has lost over 50% of its wetlands and those that remain, 33% are in a poor ecological condition;
  • R33 billion more is needed each year for the next 10 years to achieve water security.

 

The recently published DWS’ State of the Rivers Report (2017-2018) found that:

  • Only 15% is in a good condition;
  • The Vaal River Water Management Area has no sites in a good condition

 

The DWS reported during the 2ndStrategy Steering Committee of the Integrated Vaal River System Reconciliation Strategy that, notwithstanding the fact that the Integrated Water Quality Management Strategy identified a need for the implementation of a strategy to address microbial pollution in the Vaal River in 2009, the strategy has not been implemented, that is, after the effluxion of  more than ten (10) years.  (Please see second attached document.)

 

In the light of the above-mentioned facts, and the fact that a number of human rights are currently being violated such as the right to life, the right to dignity, the right to an environment that is not harmful to health and well-being and the right to sufficient water (of sufficient quality and quantity), we beg of you to – in terms of your mandate - expedite the publishing of your report; to take the necessary steps (including the issuing of Directives to and prosecution of polluters) to secure appropriate redress of the violation of the abovementioned human rights and to carry out research.  In this regard, the FSE has offered the services to the Commission of Russell Tate and Simone Liefferink, who are both water quality experts,  on a pro bona basis.  Their research is ongoing and they are eager to engage with the Commission on their results.  The research by Prof. Johann Tempelhoff of the North West University and a non-executive director of the FSE is also ongoing and, it is our considered opinion,  will be of great value to the Commission.

 

We respectfully request a response to this e-mail.

FSE'S COMMENTS ON THE VALLEY SILTS PROJECT

Written by Friday, 10 January 2020 10:03

Find attached the FSE’s comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report of Ergo Mining (Pty) Ltd:  The Valley Silts Project, Riverlea and Booysens Reserve, Johannesburg.

’The Uncomfortable Truth’: SA's water crisis

Written by Monday, 16 December 2019 11:30

On Sunday, 1 December at 7pm, eNCA took a critical look at the country’s water woes in a special debate titled ’The Uncomfortable Truth’. The Department of Water and Sanitation estimates that we lose 37 to 41% of our available water to leaks, at an estimated cost of R6-billion a year.

 

Watch the videos here.

Water & Sanitation Plan 2030

Written by Tuesday, 03 December 2019 11:53

Download the attached Water & Sanitation Plan for 2030.

Watch the video here.

CuDyWat Vaal River Barrage Report 2019

Written by Friday, 06 September 2019 16:39

Report attached for download.

National Planning Commission Releases the National Water Security Framework

 

In September 2015 the President announced the appointment of the second National Planning Commission (NPC). This second NPC was appointed to, amongst others, promote, advance and monitor the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 by government and across all sectors of South African society. The NPC conducts regular engagements with key stakeholders and wider society on all matters pertaining to the long-term development of the country.

As part of the ongoing work of the NPC to consult and advise on the implementation of the NDP, the NPC has developed a draft National Water Security Framework (NWSF) as means of ensuring a water secure country and as a response to South Africa’s water challenges.

 

About the Discussion on the National Water Security Framework:

 

In the current decade, water crises have been identified as being among the top global risks in terms of their adverse societal and economic impacts. In South Africa, given the unfavourable hydro-climatic conditions, apartheid vestiges, and national developmental imperatives, a water crisis would have undesirable consequences – particularly for the poorer sections of the population. In pursuit of a ‘virtuous cycle of growth and development’ as espoused in the National Development Plan Vision 2030, water security has been identified amongst the key pillars. It is within this context, that the NPC was mandated to lead a process of developing and finalising the National Water Security Framework on behalf of the NPC in the context of the NDP 2030.

The draft National Water Security Framework has been approved by NPC for public input and further stakeholder engagement. The aim of the National Water Security Framework is to develop a comprehensive framework that will provide a set of concepts, approaches and commitments that the country can use to safeguard the security of availability, access and supply for basic human needs while acknowledging the importance of other water uses. Follow the link to access the paper: National Water Security Framework or find it attached at the bottom of this article for download.

We encourage organisations/individuals to share the paper with colleagues and any other relevant organisations in their networks.

Stakeholder consultation process has now commenced across the country to solicit inputs towards the finalisation of the framework. Interested organisations and individuals are invited to attend. The stakeholder consultation dates are as follows:

  • 07 August 2019, Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Municipality City Hall, Vuyisile Mini Square (Govan Mbeki Street)
  • 12 August 2019, Northern Cape, Venue to be confirmed
  • 19 August 2019, Western Cape, Venue to be confirmed
  • 30 August 2019, Gauteng, Venue to be confirmed

 

Written submissions,  can be send to the NPC by writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 30 August 2019.

Issued by: The National Planning Commission

The Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE),  have attended the Minister of Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation’s Budget Vote and the Stakeholder Engagement on the 16th of July, 2019. 

 

The Stakeholder Engagement included presentations by the CEO’s of the two established CMA’s (which were referred to as “Water Boards”); the Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN)*; National Business Initiative; the World Bank and WISA. Regrettably, other stakeholders such as NGOs were not given the opportunity to engage.

*(The Partners in the SWPN are the South African Ministry of Water and Sanitation, World Bank, IFC, WEF, SAB, Coca Cola, Anglo American, Sasol, Nestle, Eskom, South 32, Exxaro, SASA, Distell and Coca Cola Bottling Association.)


Allow me please to briefly report on the Minister’s Budget presentation.  Please click here for the full report.

 

From a non-political and non-racial NGO’s perspective, it was hoped that the Minister’s and the opposition parties’ presentations would have transcended political and racial barriers.  Regrettably, it did not.

 

The Minister acknowledged inter alia:

  • The financial crisis/financial mismanagement (“huge financial problems”)
  • The irregular expenditure
  • The inequality in the distribution of water
  • Lack of capacity (limited technical staff) particularly in the municipalities (the compulsory training of municipalities)
  • The disproportionate percentage of water used for agriculture (61%) with 95% of water in the hands of white people
  • The aging infrastructure without the necessary skills and support at the right time or the right place to manage our problems on time
  • Vandalism and theft of infrastructure
  • Non-payment for services
  • The lack of skills which necessitated the appointment and monies spent on over-priced consultants
  • Effluent in rivers
  • Challenges with coordination between the three tiers for the provision of water
  • Non-compliance by the mining industry with its water license conditions

 

The proposed interventions are inter alia

  • To engage Treasury on the significant budget shortfalls of more than R2 billion affecting key projects such as the Emfuleni intervention project and Mzimvubu Water Project.
  • The Departments of Finance, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation must put measures in place to top slice the municipal grants to service the debt owed to the Department and its entities before the grants are paid to Municipalities.
  • Municipal employees must be required, as is the case with other public servants, to undergo compulsory training so that they are equipped to manage our resources.
  • Review of the tendering process.​We will review our tendering process.
  • Revival of the DWS’ construction unit who will, together with members of the construction industry, establish maintenance task teams and attend to much needed maintenance intervention, especially in the water treatment and recycling stock.
  • Request to Cabinet to declare all major dams national key points.
  • An intensive campaign to digitise all its stock holdings, data and documentation. part of protecting resources and preventing damage and neglect. 
  • New regulations on the conservation of water.
  • Appointment of river, dams and sewerage inspectors from 1 August 2019.

 

There was, according to the FSE’s recollection,  no reference to:

  1. The long term management of acid mine water (the fact that AMD will continue to be produced long after the closure of gold and coal mines and the fact that continuous pumping of underground mine water is a pre-requisite);
  2. The establishment of the 7 non-operational CMAs; and
  3. The compliance status by the DWS of the directives by the South African Human Rights Commission inter alia:

 

  • The DRDLR (together with the DWS) are directed to take steps to translate existing guidelines regarding the provision of water on privately owned land into policy to ensure that basic protections in law regarding access to water are capable of being evaluated and enforced.
  • The DMR (together with the DEA and the DWS) must, respectively, include in their annual reports the number of compliance notices or other sanctions imposed, including the proportion of successful interventions and or criminal prosecutions undertaken against non-compliance.
  • The DEA (together with the DWS) are directed to take definite steps to ensure legal protection of our water source areas through, inter alia, the use of section 24(2A) of NEMA the inclusion of a specific provision that provides that the Minister of Water and Sanitation has the power to restrict or prohibit the grant of water use licences in water sources areas alongside the use of a host of legal tools, including section 26(g) of the Regulations of the National Water Act, section 49 of the MPRDA, management tools in terms of Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, 43 of 1983 (CARA) and SPLUMA, Environmental Management Frameworks, and any further tools available.  A further provision that should be applicable, includes declarations in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 10 of 2004, of water source areas as threatened ecosystems.
  • The DWS is directed to provide a report on the current state of water use monitoring.  The Report should include:
    • Mechanisms in place to conduct regular determination of the water reserve, including how the DWS accounts for anticipated migration and population growth, limitations or inadequacies in municipal-infrastructure as well as other potential impacts on the availability of water resources, such as drought;
    • An audit of all existing WULs to ensure they adequately protect the water reserve, including basic needs and ecological requirements;
    • Steps taken to monitor compliances with WULs and its impacts, particularly in mining areas; and
    • The impact mining has and will have on the water reserve and how this aligns with the National Strategic Plan for Water.

The report by the Department of Water and Sanitation is attached for download.