Molewa: Dearth of water officials

2010-11-24 15:40
Cape Town - The water affairs department has less than a third of the officials it needs to enforce compliance with water quality and pollution laws, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa revealed on Wednesday.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question, she said the department had only 31 full-time staff for enforcement, monitoring and compliance across the whole country.

"There are 16 officials at national level... and 15 officials at provincial level."

There were nine vacant posts at national level and 56 at regional level, she said.

On the posts not filled, the reply lists, among others, technicians, pollution control officers, resource protection staff and drinking water quality officials.

On plans to create a so-called regulation branch within the department, the minister said this had not yet happened.

"My department intends to create a fully-fledged branch for regulation. The process of organisational design for this new structure has not been finalised as yet, but there are plans in place to increase the number of officials dedicated to compliance, monitoring and enforcement," she said.

The Green Drop Report - a national assessment of wastewater treatment plants, released by the department in April this year - found only about seven percent of municipal sewage works were operating to acceptable standards.

With many of the 852 treatment works around the country discharging raw or only partially treated sewage into rivers and streams, experts have warned of a looming pollution crisis and growing threat to South Africa's water security.

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