Three local councils on problem list

2010-02-04 00:00

THE Msunduzi, Sisonke and Umgungundlovu municipalities were revealed as being on the problem list of councils whose water treatment works were not up to scratch during parliament’s public hearings on service delivery yesterday.

eThekweni Metro, on the other hand, was said to have both a Blue Drop Certification — meaning their drinking water is of an excellent quality, and a Green Drop Certification — meaning that their waste water treatment works are in excellent order.

The hearings heard that the effects of years of inadequate infrastructure maintenance, poor management and serious skills shortages in local governments were responsible for the problem municipalities.

Nobubele Ngele, acting director-general of the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, told the ad hoc committee on service delivery that only 30 of the country’s 283 municipalities have water services that are currently functioning properly.

The department recently assessed municipalities on seven critical areas and found water services throughout the country to be in various stages of collapse.

Up to 23 municipalities are already in a “terrible crisis” and do not have the ability to treat sewage water and to supply safe drinking water. According to Ngele’s submission, there exists an “acute risk” of the outbreak of diseases.

A further 99 municipalities will be in the same boat by July if national government does not intervene right now. Yet another 110 municipalities appear on the “risk list”.

Committee members also heard that some municipalities underspent on maintenance work for many years in order to save money and “so that their books could balance”. “Now they’re sitting with infrastructure that has seriously deteriorated.”

Environment Minister Buyelwa Sonjica undertook to submit a report to parliament on the quality of drinking water in municipalities throughout the country by the end of the month.

An audit was done at 435 water purification plants last year and 23 municipalities’ drinking water was classified as outstanding (Blue Drop Status).

The department also conducted an audit at 277 of the 522 registered sewage purification plants, and 32 received the highest mark (Green Drop Status).

Sonjica said her greatest frustration is that, in terms of the Constitution, her department has only limited powers to intervene in municipalities.


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