Water and sanitation

National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS)
Role players
Strategic Water Partners Network – South Africa (SWPN-SA)



Cover page of Energy and Water chapter in South Africa pocket guideWater and sanitation

The Department of Water and Sanitation’s (DWS) legislative mandate seeks to ensure that the country’s water resources are protected, managed, used, developed, conserved and controlled in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all people and the environment.

The DWS is mandated to develop a knowledge base and implement effective policies, procedures and integrated planning strategies both for water resources and services.

This entails adhering to the requirements of water- related policies and legislation, including constitutional requirements, that are critical in delivering on the right of access to sufficient food and water, transforming the economy and eradicating poverty.

In  2016, Cabinet approved the Sanitation Policy, whose pillars include planning, institutional arrangements, participation and ownership, skills and capacity, financial and economic aspects, as well as the sustainability of sanitation services.

National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS)

The National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS2) sets out the vision and strategic actions for effective water management. These included the security of water supply, environmental degradation, and pollution of resources.

The NWRS2 outlines the key challenges, constraints and opportunities in water resource management and proposes new approaches that ensure a collective and adequate response for the benefit of all people in South Africa.

This strategy moves towards the achievement and attainment of an inclusive sustainable and equitable economy.

The NWRS2 ensures that the management of national water resources contributes towards achieving South Africa’s growth, development and socio-economic priorities in an equitable and sustainable manner over the next five to 10 years.

The strategy also responds to the priorities set by government in the NDP and National Water Act of 1998 imperatives that support sustainable development.

Dams and water schemes

The country has more than 500 government-owned dams spread across all nine provinces. They range in storage capacity from a volume of 5 500 million m3 of water down to 0,2 million m3 of water.

South Africa uses about 10 200 million m3 of water a year from its major dams. The majority of water consumption can be attributed to drinking, irrigation, electricity, mining processes and industrial processes.

Augmentation schemes

By mid-2017, the following augmentation schemes were underway to support water security in South Africa:

  • The Raising of the Clanwilliam Dam Wall and Irrigation Scheme (Western Cape) to increase water storage capacity for emerging black farmers and unleasing the economic potential of the area.
  • The Raising of Tzaneen Dam (Limpopo) will see construction for the raising of the dam wall, commencing by July 2017.
  • The Lower Thukela Regional Bulk Water Scheme (KwaZulu-Natal) was expected to be completed in December 2017. This scheme will supply additional water to the coastal and inland areas of KwaDukuza LM and Mandeni LM.
  • Mogalakwena Bulk Water Supply (Limpopo) will benefit 94 000 people and mines in the Waterberg area. The project aims to deliver water to Mokopane town and surrrounding villages.
  • The Namakwa Bulk Water Supply Scheme (Northern Cape) will benefit 11 500 households in the Namakwa Region.
  • The Hoxane Water Treatment Works (Mpumalanga) has seen the completion of phases 1 and 2. Phase 3 will provide an additional 27 million litres per day of purified water for the benefit of emerging black farmers.
  • Phase 2 of  the Mokolo Crocodile West Augmentation Project (Limpopo) comprises a 160-km pipeline to transfer water from the Crocodile River West near Thabazimbi to the Lephalale area. This project will support electricity generation for the country.

Bucket Eradication Programme

In keeping with the aspirations of the NDP, steady progress is being made towards eradicating the bucket toilet system in both formal and informal areas across South Africa.

Nationally, the percentage of households without sanitation, or who used bucket toilets decreased from 12,3% to 4,2% between 2002 and 2016

Role players

Water boards

The primary activity of water boards is to provide water services (bulk potable and bulk waste water) to other water services institutions within their respective service areas.

They may perform other activities under conditions set out in the Water Services Act of 1997. There are 15 water boards in South Africa, with the three largest being Rand Water in Gauteng, Umgeni Water in KwaZulu-Natal and Overberg Water in the Western Cape.

Catchment management agencies (CMAs)

The main responsibilities of CMAs are to manage water resources at catchment level in collaboration with local stakeholders, with specific focus on involving local communities in the decision-making processes, in terms of meeting basic human needs, promoting equitable access to water, and facilitating social and economic development.

Water-user associations (WUAs)

WUAs are cooperative associations of individual water users who wish to undertake water-related activities at local level for their mutual benefit.

Water Research Commission

The WRC has a vital role in water research by establishing needs and priorities, stimulating and funding research, promoting the transfer of information and technology, and enhancing knowledge and capacity building in the water sector.

It also focuses on water resources management, water-linked ecosystems, water use and waste management, and water use in agriculture.

Water Trading Entity (WTE)

The DWS is responsible for the regulation of water use in South Africa by ensuring that water is allocated equitably and  used  beneficially  in  the  public  interest,  and  is  also required to create a register of all water users in the country.

The National Water Act of 1998 provides for cost recovery on services rendered by the department to water users. It is against this background that the department created the WTE within its administration.

The main function of the WTE is development, operation and maintenance of specific water resources infrastructure and managing water resources in specific water management areas.

Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA)

The Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority is a State-owned entity (SOE) specialising in project financing, implementation and liability management. It is responsible for the development of bulk raw-water infrastructure. It also provides an integrated treasury management and financial advisory service to the DWS, water boards, municipalities and other entities that are linked to bulk raw-water infrastructure.

Komati River Basin Water Authority

The Komati Basin Water Authority was established in terms of a treaty between South Africa and Swaziland. The aim of the authority is to manage the water resources of the Komati River basin sustainably. The authority is responsible for financing, developing, operating and maintaining the water resources infrastructure in the basin, comprising the Driekoppies Dam in South Africa and the Maguga Dam in Swaziland.

Water Tribunal

The aim of the Water Tribunal is to hear appeals against directives and decisions made by responsible authorities, CMAs or water management agencies about matters such as the issuing of licences to use water. It is an independent body and can hold hearings anywhere in the country.

Strategic Water Partners Network – South Africa (SWPN-SA)

The SWPN is a dynamic and cutting-edge partnership between the DWS, the private sector and civil society working collectively to close a 17% gap between water supply and demand that is anticipated to manifest by the year 2030 in South Africa.

The partnership strives to contribute to efficient, equitable and sustainable water supply and access to water for all South Africans through the identification and application of innovative and cost effective solutions and programmes.

Source: Pocket Guide to South Africa

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