SA's water supply chain runs on empty

18 July 2017 - 07:54 By ERNEST MABUZA
A mother giving her son a drink of water in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. File photo.
A mother giving her son a drink of water in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. File photo.
Image: LAUREN MULLIGAN

Water boards are at the sharp end of supplying water to thirsty South Africa.

The country would be faced with a crisis within 48 hours if they ceased to function.

This is the view of water expert Anthony Turton.

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

Bloem and Sedibeng water boards are owed a combined figure of more than R1-billion by both the Department of Water and Sanitation and a number of municipalities.

Department spokesman Sputnik Ratau admitted yesterday the department owed some water boards monies for commissioned work.

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," Ratau said.

Turton said it had been known by experts for some time that some of the country's water boards were in severe financial crisis.

"This all points to the fact that the Department of Water and Sanitation has been in systemic failure for some time now," Turton said.

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