Says Yamkela Ntola, OUTA’s Water and Environment Portfolio Manager: “This is due to, among other things, the Department of Water and Sanitation’s (DWS) failure to execute its regulatory function effectively… The myriad of issues in the Department require serious and effective intervention and the establishing of a regulator independent from the Department is a solution that both OUTA and WSSA agree on.”
His sentiments are being echoed by Benoît Le Roy, Chief Executive Officer of the WSSA who says the “presence of an Independent Water Regulator will also unlock much-needed investment in the water sector”.
An independent water regulator would ensure our Constitutional right to healthy water, unlike the current situation of anarchy in the water sector. Independent regulation of water would ensure apolitical management of South Africa’s water allocations to the various sectors, using water strictly within the confines of the Constitution, the Water Act and other legislation and based on scientific data on water availability.
It would ensure the apolitical regulation of pollution of our water resources, with the regulator enforcing compliance by all, be it industry, municipalities, farming or SOEs. This would remove the political machinations which currently allow municipalities and industry to dump polluted effluents into our water resources and allows the national department – the current custodian – to refuse to publish the Blue Drop and Green Drop reports on water quality.
An important regulatory function would be overseeing the quality of potable water provided by government-controlled water boards, utilities and cities.
Another important function would be to ensure equitable pricing to all water users in a fair and transparent manner.
Technical and policy specialists
OUTA and WSSA have put together a Steering Committee with representatives from each organisation as well as technical and policy specialists. This committee met on 5 December to outline the objectives and the programme for this collaboration for 2019.
“Details will made available within the first quarter of next year on how OUTA and WSSA will engage with all stakeholders,” says Ntola.
“Over the next two years the steering committee aims to engage all interested and affected stakeholders across the country to gather and consolidate their inputs to present before the appropriate state institutions. This will include but will not be limited to the agricultural, mining, manufacturing and the food and beverage industries,” says Le Roy.
The establishment of an independent water regulator – like the National Energy Regulator for South Africa (NERSA) in the energy sector – is long overdue. As civil society organisations, OUTA and WSSA, together with business, look forward to providing solutions that will result in an effective and efficient water sector.
OUTA is a proudly South African civil action organisation, that is purely crowd funded. Our work is supported by ordinary citizens who are passionate about holding government accountable and ensuring our taxes are used to the benefit of all South Africans.