The Department of Water and Sanitation says it will tighten compliance and enforcement measures against the City of Tshwane to ensure it complies with its obligation to deal with low effluent standards and provide safe drinking water to affected communities.
The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) appeared before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements.
The department painted a bleak picture about the present state of the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works (RWWTW) and Temba Water Treatment Works (TWTW).
Following its oversight visit to the City of Tshwane in 2019 and in February 2020, the Portfolio Committee instructed the city to urgently resolve the water and wastewater challenges which pose a health risk for the community.
The DWS Acting Director-General, Deborah Mochotlhi has attributed the notable lack of progress to resolving the water and wastewater challenges mainly to instability of leadership in the city. This said Mochotlhi, has had a negative impact on progress since the department has had to engage anew on several occasions.
“The Action Plan to turn around the situation at the Rooiwal WWTW and the Temba Water Treatment Works have not yielded any positive results as the plans were not implemented in line with the directives issued by the department, nor the action plan presented to the committee by the city.
“The city has cited lack of funds for not implementing the Action Plan and the city is said to have approached the Development Bank of Southern Africa for funding. Amongst problem areas at the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works, the department’s inspectors found that the works was overloaded, there was poor sludge management, and no schedule for operations and maintenance,” Mochotlhi said in a statement on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the audit and inspection of the Temba WTW, has found that communities are still supplied with poor water quality and that the water tankers used to supply water to affected communities do not meet the demand.
Other challenges related to water quality failures are the availability of ammonia, phosphates, nitrate-nitrites, colour, taste and odour parameters which remained the same.
“In view of the numerous non-compliances, the department will proceed with the court case opened against the City of Tshwane, as per Section 53 of the National Water Act (Act 36, 1998),” Mochotlhi told the Committee.
On 26 February 2021 the South African Human Rights Commission held an inquiry on the state of rivers under the jurisdiction of the city, which included the Apies, the Pienaars and Hennops.
Mochotlhi reiterated that going forward, the city must prioritise the review of its maintenance and operations manual, the appointment of qualified process controllers to address staff shortages at their works, and the appointment of the security personnel at the works to address the theft and vandalism issues.