Ekurhuleni skimps on water management - DA

Genevieve Quintal, News24

Johannesburg - The Ekurhuleni metro has underspent on waste water management and water services, DA deputy chief whip Mike Waters says.

This was in a metro which had experienced severe water outages lasting at least nine days, he told News24.

According to the Gauteng Treasury's municipal consolidated budget statement for the quarter ended June 30, 2015 the metro had spent 66.3% of its R127m budgeted for waste water management and 89.1% of its R333m allocated for water services.

The DA said the figures had "changed dramatically" since the party looked at the draft statements which showed that the metro had only spent 48% of the R127m budgeted for waste water management and had failed to spend 46% of the R333m allocated to water services.

Waters said he was not sure why the metro had underspent but put it down to a "general lack of competence".

The DA MP, whose constituency is based in Sunnyridge, Ekurhuleni, one of the highest points in the metro, said Rand Water had presented a plan to Parliament's portfolio committee on water and sanitation in February, which would have helped with the water crisis in the area.

'Water crisis could have been avoided'

Waters believed the water crisis in the area could have been avoided had the plan been implemented.

"What [Rand Water] said is... they would implement independent power sources at pump stations because of electricity outages... [and] it wouldn't affect the pumping of water to reservoirs," he said.

This was one of the main causes of one of the nine-day water outage last year which caused the reservoirs to run dry.

"Secondly, you will see... there is a whole plan to fix the water network so that we don't lose 40% of our water... yet Ekurhuleni continues to underspend to this day on water maintenance."

Waters claimed neither Rand Water nor the Ekurhuleni metro had implemented the plan.

The Ekurhuleni metro did not respond to questions emailed to it last week.

Rand Water however told News24 that it was currently implementing the plan presented to Parliament.

"At the beginning of the heat wave, Rand Water advised consumers including Ekurhuleni that the water demand was higher than normal as a result of higher than normal temperatures," spokesperson Justice Mohale said in an emailed response to questions.

"The consumers were all requested to use water sparingly to equal Rand Water production capacity. It was that request which informed restrictions that were imposed by municipalities as a means of ensuring that demand equals supply."

During the higher than normal water demand period, high lying areas experienced more frequent shortages due to high consumption in low lying areas.

This could have been the case in areas such as Sunnyridge, he said.

"Rand Water can confirm that it has never stopped producing water. In fact, the organisation increased its production capacity from 4 600 megalitres to 4 800 megalitres as a way of mitigating the high demand."

Mohale said Rand Water could not prevent higher than normal temperatures but nonetheless had tried to help minimise wastage.

"The solution lies in all of us by using water sparingly."

Waters said he believed the water crisis was a combination of two things.

"Obviously they say there is a drought but then the provincial government says dams are fullish and therefore there is enough water for everybody.

"But what's catching up with Rand Water and Ekurhuleni in particular is the lack of maintenance of infrastructure," he said.

Ekurhuleni lost 40% of its water due to leaks, said Waters.

There was also no computerised system which monitored reservoirs and so no pre-warning was given of low water levels.

Waters said he had handed in a second petition to Parliament calling for Rand Water and Ekurhuleni metro to appear before the committee again where they could give dates and a timeline for how they were dealing with the problem.

Source http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/ekurhuleni-skimps-on-water-manage...