Water crisis time bomb ticking

Cape Town - Trade union federation Fedusa on Wednesday warned South Africa was sitting on a water crisis "time bomb".

Citing "inadequate management and monitoring" by water service authorities, Fedusa said it had filed notice with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) of possible protest action.

"Fedusa... decided that the best way to make South Africans as well as its government aware of the true state of water was by filing a section 77 in respect of possible protest action," the federation said in a statement.

Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act gives workers the right to take part in protest action to promote or defend their socio-economic interests.

"We are sitting on a time bomb which will affect each and every person in the country," Fedusa said.

The National Water Act stated that no person could unlawfully and intentionally or negligently commit any act or omission which polluted or was likely to pollute a water resource.

"However, little action if any is taken against transgressing municipalities.

"(Further), 104 mines in South Africa are operating without a valid water licence, of which the majority are in Limpopo province."

Eutrophication

Fedusa said the state of drinking and waste water in South Africa had not improved at all over the past five years.

Among other things, there was poor sanitation and water service delivery; very high levels of pollution and eutrophication (excessive nutrients) in dams and rivers; poor quality drinking water; and, failing waste water treatment infrastructure.

Fedusa said it was demanding all drinking water and waste water treatment plants be placed under the control of a national project manager.

Such a manager, it said, should be tasked with drawing up a national programme of work, together with a budget, to restore the necessary infrastructure.

Further, the national government should "cut the red tape" and urgently approve such a budget.

The handing over of such restored waterworks and treatment plants to municipalities should only be done on "condition that (the) correct staff have been appointed and trained".

Fedusa is also calling for a "fast-tracked sustainable solution" to the acid mine drainage, which is threatening parts of the country.

In terms of the Labour Relations Act, Nedlac must bring the parties to a section 77 notice together, to attempt to resolve the reasons for the contemplated protest action.

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