Water board failures could lead to catastrophe: expert

17 July 2017 - 15:20 By Ernest Mabuza
Image: iStock

Water boards are at the front-end of supplying water and a critical element in the supply of water. If they ceased to function‚ within 48 hours the country would be faced with a crisis.

This is the view of water expert Dr Anthony Turton.

He was reacting to a report by City Press that the Water and Sanitation Department has failed to pay overdue funds to some of its water boards‚ leading to these boards being taken to court by unpaid service providers.

Bloem Water and Sedibeng Water boards are owed a combined figure of more than R1bn by both the department of water and sanitation and various municipalities.

Department spokesman Sputnik Ratau admitted on Monday that the department owed some water boards monies for the work the department had commissioned from the boards.

Ratau could not give an exact amount‚ but said municipalities also owed the water boards millions for services‚

Ratau said Sedibeng was owed the most for the emergency work it performed at the height of the drought last year on behalf of the department.

“It is a kind of vicious circle where the water board would be owed by the department for work done as an implementing agent‚ and the department would also be owed for bulk water by the water board in terms of the bulk water that is extracted from water sources‚” Ratau said.

Turton said it had been known for some time that water boards were in a severe financial crisis.

“What we see is hard evidence that the department is failing.”

Turton said the department had been saying there were no problems.

“This all points to the fact that the Department of Water and Sanitation has been in systemic failure for some time now.”