Top dogs support of the Makana Water Forum: Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation’ visit to Makana Local Municipality

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Deputy Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation, Ms Pam Tshwete
Deputy Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation, Ms Pam Tshwete

Introduction:

A high-level delegation from the Department of Water and Sanitation including among others the Deputy Minister Ms Pam Tshwete, Ms Portia Makhanya Chief Director Eastern Cape as well as the Provincial Chairperson of The Portfolio Committee On Water and Sanitation held a stakeholder meeting at the City Hall in Grahamstown/Makanda on the 24th of July 2018. The purpose of the meeting was to respond to stakeholders’ questions that were raised during previous DM’s visit on the 14th of June 2018 and provide stakeholders the opportunity to engage with the relevant departments of government. The Institute for Water Research were well represented with Ancha Bulunga, Mateboho Ralegektla, Matthew Weaver, Margaret Wolff and Notiswa Libala all in attendance. As committee members of the Makana Water Forum (a non-statutory stakeholder water management platform, see http://www.grocotts.co.za/2017/09/20/grahamstown-water-tour-from-source-to-sewage/ and https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/grocotts-mail/20160812/282166470576762), the legitimacy and ongoing DWS and Makana Local Municipality support was garnered through engagement with officials at the meeting.

Other topics discussed at the meeting are outlined below.

The Municipality’s Infrastructure and Maintenance Director Mr Mlenzana gave a presentation on Makana Local Municipality water and sanitation challenges.

  • The challenges included muddy water, sewerage spillages, and traces of E.coli in drinking water.
  • Muddy water in the eastern supply system due to high turbidity in the DWS supplied water through the Fish River.
  • The James Kleynhans WTW is being upgraded and the sludge drying pits are still under construction resulting in excess sediment in the water in town.

Dam levels reported at 30% for Settlers and 57% for Howisonspoort, which Dali estimated to equate to 60 days of water.

Q&A: Leaks

- Clarification on leak repair process - Concern that the MLM is casual about attending to leaks, allowing water to leak for ages before they are attended.

- Dali said this is a misconception, as it is necessary to "waste" this water, because pipes have to be drained before a leak can be repaired.

Funds have been ring-fenced for leak repairs.

Bureaucratic protocols need to be followed to obtain parts etc., which prolongs the leak repair process.

Q: Communication was mentioned as one of the challenges within the Municipality, whereby information about water cut-offs is not communicated to the residents on time  

Q: Matthew followed with a question on how the Makana Water Forum could be assisted and recognised as a useful entity that can help with communication.

A: Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, The Eastern Cape Provincial Head at Department of Water and Sanitation, the Executive Mayor of MLM and the Municipality’s Infrastructure and Maintenance Director all agreed that the Forum plays a vital role in bridging the gap between officials and the community with regard to engaging regularly on what is going with water related issues in the Municipality. The DM further mentioned other relevant people at both Provincial and Local government level who would need to become part of the Forum in order to render their support. It was also mentioned that a plan was needed in order to make the Forum sustainable and functional when the Rhodes students are not available to assist fully due to their study commitments and when some finish and leave Rhodes.

The Provincial Chairperson of The Portfolio Committee On Water and Sanitation in his concluding comments suggested that the solution to the problems lies in the Municipality moving away from the apartheid water plan.

Building on the energy and support from the meeting, the Makana Water Forum committee is coordinating the next public forum meeting on the 24th of August 2018.

 IWR delegation to DWS DM stakeholder
meeting

Delegates to the Makana Water Forum.

Source:  Matthew Weaver

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