The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is central to the economic development and social well-being of the country as its mandate is to provide sufficient, reliable, clean water 365 days a year to support socio-economic growth.
The department’s legislative mandate is to ensure that the country’s water resources are protected, managed, used, developed, conserved and controlled by regulating and supporting the delivery of effective water supply and sanitation. This is done in accordance with the requirements of water‐related policies and legislation that are critical in delivering on people’s right to have sufficient food and water, growing the economy, and eradicating poverty.
Chapter 4 of the National Development Plan envisages a South Africa that recognises the importance of secure and equitable access to water and sanitation as catalysts for socioeconomic development. This is given expression by Priority 1 (economic transformation and job creation) and Priority 4 (spatial integration, human settlements and local government) of government’s 2019‐2024 Medium Term Strategic Framework, with which the work of the DWS is aligned. The department was expected to continue to focus on integrated water resources management, infrastructure planning and development; and regulating water services.
South Africa needs to reduce water demand and increase supply for a growing population and economy to ensure water security by 2030.
The National Water and Sanitation Master Plan details the requirements for appropriate investment into water resources and services, and sets targets for adequate water conservation and demand management. To address water infrastructure backlogs and improve operational sustainability, over the medium term, the DWS was expected to continue to plan and maintain infrastructure.
The DWS’s projects include acid mine drainage operations in Gauteng, phase 2D of the Olifants River Water Resources Development Project, the Mokolo‐Crocodile River Water Augmentation Project, the raising of Tzaneen Dam, the Umdloti River Development Project, and the raising of the Hazelmere Dam.
The construction of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase II is aimed at achieving water security and aimed at delivering water to South Africa by November 2026.
The DWS planned to reintroduce regulatory quality valuations on the provision of water services. These valuations are intended to measure the level of compliance with the green drop and blue drop standards. To improve equitable access to water resources, the DWS planned to process 80% of the water use licence applications it receives within 120 days. In addition, the department plans to assess and determine the resource quality of the uThukela River system.
Consolidated water boards
Water boards derive their mandates from the Water Services Act of 1997 and are listed under schedule 3B in the Public Finance Management Act of 1999. There are nine water boards, which are primarily mandated to provide bulk industrial and potable water services to municipalities and industries within their gazetted areas of operation.
Rand Water and Umgeni Water, which are discussed separately, operate largely in urban areas while others operate in rural areas. In addition to responding to their core mandate, some water boards provide retail water and sanitation services on behalf of municipalities as secondary activities.
Rand Water was established in terms of the Water Services Act of 1997 and is categorised as a national government business enterprise in terms of schedule 3B of the Public Finance Management Act of 1999.
The water board serves about 19 million people, with the Vaal River system supplying 98% of its bulk water. Rand Water stores, treats and delivers potable water to municipalities, mines and industries in and around Gauteng.
Trans‐Caledon Tunnel Authority
The Trans‐Caledon Tunnel Authority was established in 1986 as a specialised liability management entity, deriving its mandate from the National Water Act of 1998. It is responsible for financing and implementing the development of bulk raw water infrastructure, and providing treasury management services to the DWS.
The authority plays an important role in providing: financial advisory services such as structuring and raising project finance, managing debt and setting tariffs; project implementation services; and other technical support to the department and water boards. As such, the authority will continue with the planning and implementation of the Vaal River system through Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, providing a short‐ term solution to acid mine drainage in Gauteng, and phase 2A of the Mokolo‐Crocodile
River Water Augmentation Project.
Umgeni Water was established in terms of the Water Services Act of 1997 to provide water and sanitation services in its service area, which comprises mostly rural areas in KwaZulu‐ Natal and the eThekwini metropolitan area. The water board supplies water to about six million consumers. Its ongoing objective is to support socio-economic development through water infrastructure investment in its area of operation.
Over the medium term, the water board will construct: Phase 1 of the Greater Mpofana regional water scheme, the Impendle bulk water supply scheme, and Phase 3 of the Maphumulo bulk water supply scheme, targeting largely indigent municipal areas.
In addition, to ensure water security, the water board will target augmentation, upgrades and the rehabilitation of projects such as the Lower Umkhomazi bulk water supply scheme and Phase 1 of the Umkhomazi water project.
Water Trading Entity
The Water Trading Entity was established in 1983 for the management of water infrastructure and resources, and the sale of raw water. It was converted into a trading entity in terms of the Public Finance Management Act of 1999 in 2008.
Over the medium term, the entity is expected to continue focusing on maintaining existing water resource infrastructure, supporting the long‐term sustainability of water resources, and support economic development.
Accordingly, over the period ahead, the entity anticipates the completion of three raw water projects (Tzaneen Dam, Clanwilliam Dam and Hazelmere Dam).
- The Breede‐Gouritz Catchment Management Agency plays a key role in the use, protection and development of water resources in the Breede‐Gouritz water catchment area.
- The Inkomati‐Usuthu Catchment Management Agency plays a key role in the use, protection and development of water resources in the Inkomati‐Usuthu water catchment area.
- The Water Research Commission’s mandate is to conduct research on water by determining needs and priorities for research, stimulating and funding water research, promoting the effective transfer of information and technology, and enhancing knowledge and capacity building in the water sector. Research is informed by government policies, needs and international trends.