Pretoria – Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says government will go all out to ensure that previously unserved communities get access to water and decent sanitation, whilst ensuring water security for all South Africans.
The Minister said this on Friday during her department’s Budget Vote Speech in Parliament in Cape Town.
She said to enhance water and service delivery to the nation, the empowerment of designated groups in society will be prioritised.
“The 2017 Budget Vote is, amongst others, about serving the unserved, creating new industries in the water sector, promoting the participation of women, youth and blacks within the sector, and providing water and sanitation services as catalysts to economic development and growth opportunities in our country,” said Minister Mokonyane.
She said the department’s R15.1 billion budget for the 2017/18 financial year will, amongst others, ensure water security through building, maintaining and refurbishing water and sanitation infrastructure.
“Water storage for the present and the future remains critical for creating certainty for the economic and social development of our country. This then calls on us to build more infrastructure that will address unemployment, inequality and poverty,” said Minister Mokonyane.
Some of the main infrastructure projects for this financial year include Mzimvubu Water Scheme, Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and the Vaal Gamagara Water Project.
In order to increase water supply, the following augmentation schemes will be undertaken: the continuation of raising the Clanwilliam Dam Wall, raising of Tzaneen Dam, Lower Thukela Regional Bulk Water Scheme and Hoxane Water Treatment Works, among others.
On sanitation, Minister Mokonyane announced that of the 52 300 buckets in the formal settlements that were to be eradicated, some 26 900 buckets have been eradicated and of the remaining 25 400 buckets, 14 000 are work in progress, with 11 000 remaining to be completed with alternative sanitation solutions.
This is done in partnership with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and the Water Research Commission.
“The restoration of the dignity of our people is a commitment by this government. We can now confirm that the following provinces no longer have buckets in the formal areas namely Mpumalanga, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Northern Cape,” said Minister Mokonyane.
Minister Mokonyane took the opportunity to mobilise South Africans to help fight the pollution of water sources. Key to water resources management is the protection of rivers from pollution and monitoring the water quality status.
“Pollution by sewage is a big problem in our catchments countrywide. Enforcement of by-laws and compliance will be strengthened and the department will also increase capacity to ensure enforcement on a continuous basis. Compliance with the Blue Drop and Green Drop standards will also be strictly monitored,” Minister Mokonyane said.
She thanked South Africans for helping with efforts to save water and encouraged the citizens to continue doing so, especially in the Western Cape where dam levels are critically low.