Water and Sanitation/Catchment Management Forum(s) Information meeting held in City Hall, Thursday 5 May 2016 at 10h00

two reports: first by Fiona Semple

The purpose was to share information around forming a Community Based Water and Sanitation Forum in Makana.

Cllr Nombulelo Masoma, Chairperson of the Department of Engineering and Infrastructural Services, chaired this gathering.

It seems that a decision was made previous to this gathering, to combine this forum with the Catchment Management Forum. This is to avoid wasteful duplications, as there are overlaps in both these areas, both being concerned with water services to the community.

The organogram, showing how water is managed in the country, was displayed on the screen. There are many levels. It was, however, not indicated which level is responsible for which parts of what goes into providing services related to water in the country.

The Makana municipality will provide the venues and catering for these forum meetings once they are set up. The venues will alternate between the City Hall and the Recreation Hall.

Daluxolo Mlenzana (Acting Director – Engineering and Infrastructure) told the gathering about how the water and sanitation services are delivered in Grahamstown. He referred to the old infrastructure repeatedly failing, the backlog of new infrastructure being put in and the great increase in demands for both services. Funding has been allocated, by various government departments at various levels of that organogram, to fund these projects, but some of the money has yet to actually come through to the municipality. The problem of vandalising of infrastructure is ongoing and adds to the delay of service provision. Some of the projects, such as provision of flush toilets to some areas, is on hold, until the waste water treatment plants have been upgraded and new ones built to cope with the ever greater capacity that will be required of them. An interesting finding was that in the east of Grahamstown, most of the water wastage is through faulty toilet cisterns left to run constantly and not being fixed. These residents do not realize the implications of this on water supply and/or cannot afford a plumber to fix the problem. The municipality is looking into how to solve this matter. There is a Social Facilitator employed by the municipality whose task it is to educate residents on how to use flush toilets, what to flush down them and what not to flush down them.

It was suggested that anyone wishing to become more involved in this forum should familiarize themselves with the Water Act, the Water Services Act and the National Water Resource Strategy.

Mr. Mbandazayo, from the Proto Catchment Management Agency, was present and asked Tally Palmer, of Rhodes University, to present the work that was done by them in investigating how water is managed in the Eastern Cape Province. Tally pointed out to the gathering just how many different stakeholders there are and how they intersect or hopefully will in the future. This helps one to understand why it takes so long to get anything done or changed when so many different groups have to be consulted. It also confirms how essential good clear communication between the groups is, if anything is to be achieved successfully and with fairness for all. The following website is interesting to look at, for some idea of what the thinking is on this matter. It is a power point presentation from August 2015. Most frustrating to me is all the use of ACRONYMS without first indicating what they are!!! This rife use of acronyms does not impress me at all.

More information here: Amathole Catchment Forum 27 August 2015, Asiphe Sahula.

Finally, a group of 5 people present at the gathering agreed to be part of a group which will take this process of forming a forum forward. They represent the Kowie Catchment Campaign, Grahamstown Residents Association, Mobisam, farmers in Salem, another NPO in Makana and the Rhodes university department which is already familiar with the situation.

second report by Tim Bull

Following a well-attended inaugural meeting in February 2016, this meeting dealt with many of the issues raised by attendees at the previous meeting. As requested, the meeting commenced with three presentations.

Cllr Nombulelo Masoma, chaired the meeting. She is also Chair of the Portfolio Committee which oversees Water and Sanitation in Makana.

Presenters:

  • Mr Anais Mamabolo, Dept Water and Sanitation (DWS)
  • Mr Delani Mlenzana, Makana Director of Engineering and Infrastructural Services
  • Professor Tally Palmer, Rhodes University Head of Institute for Water Research (IWR)
  • Apologies: Ntombi Tshicilela, Makana Manager for Water and Sanitation

DWS Presentation

The first presentation was given by Mr Mamabolo (DWS). He explained that this forum has a very similar role to Catchment Management Forum, which has to be formed under statutory guidance. DWS and Makana officials have therefore decided to combine the two fora to save unnecessary duplication. He also referred to the draft terms of reference (ToR) (attached). He announced that 5 volunteers would be needed to marry the ToR from the CMF and WSF, and he stated that the resulting Forum must be what the stakeholders want it to be.

Mr Mamabolo explained that DWS are rolling out Water fora in numerous places, but are prioritising areas of greatest need and he referred to Makana as a ‘hotspot’ due to the infrastructural deficits. The idea is to establish good community engagement in order to provide good communication channels and to prevent unnecessary protests and strikes.

Questions:

The draft ToR state that DWS will provide the secretariat support.

Mr Mamabolo responded that the ToR are just a draft and that DWS will not have the capacity to provide the secretarial support for all the areas they cover.

Makana Presentation

Mr Mlenzana started by apologising that the Makana Manager for Water and Sanitation had another urgent meeting, so could not be present. He also apologised for not having any slides to show, which would have been useful as he verbally mapped out the structure of Grahamstown Water and Sewerage systems, explaining in detail their current capacities. He further explained the challenges currently faced, what work has been done in past couple of years to remedy shortfalls and work in progress to address the remaining problems.

Amongst the challenges raised by Mr Mlenzana was the lack of resourcefulness of some households regarding water leaks and he claimed that in some areas of town as manay as 7 out of 10 households had constantly running toilet cisterns. He also explained that Makana has to reduce pressure in some areas at night to allow reservoirs such as the one at Botha’s Hill to refill, ready for the next day.

Regarding sanitation, Mr Mlenzana stated that Makana only has 6 qulaified plumbers. Both Water Treatment Works, Belmont Valley and Mayfield are operating substantially beyond their capacities. For example Belmont Valley is supposed to have a maximum capacity of 5 megalitres per day, but normal demand runs at 7.4 Mega Litres per day, and after heavy rain this can increase to around 10 megalitres. He outlined plans to use DWS funding to increase the capacities, not just to cope with current demands, but also allowing for additional households in the future.

Mr Mlenzana stated that Makana is well aware that there are leaks everywhere around town, and that DWS have provided R60 Million to start the process of renewal and increasing pipe capacity. He also mentioned the R42 Million allocated to eradicating reliance on the ‘bucket system’, though this cannot extend to informal settlement. There is also a further pledge of R140 Million to deal with sewer leaks.

To sum up, Mr Mlenzana stated that the situation for water and sanitation will improve greatly by the end of the 2017/18 financial year.

Questions:

  • Outages during day – explained that sometimes, after water is restricted at night the effects can last into the morning after pressure is restored due to factors such as air locks. Any individual problem may need to be examined separately.
  • Lack of effective communication – Makana is aware of deficits in communications and customer care and the whole customer care unit is being overhauled and improved, with greater capacity.
  • Why can’t pipes run under pavements to save roads? – Routing of pipes is generally dependant of historical planning when town planning was very different. Moving pipes to new positions is often impossible because of other developments, for example all the Telkom lines now under the pavements.
  • Under ‘bucket system eradication’ are people getting new toilets who don’t have other running water? No-one is without water as there are stand pipes near every house. The toilets are in the yards generally, not in the houses. When people get new toilets are they instructed how to use them? Yes, we provide training.
  • Why doesn’t the municipality assist farmers to access bore-hole water on their farms instead of wasting money and water transporting water to them? Farm water is a headache because under the constitution they must be provided with all basic services, including water. It is not Makana’s responsibility to unsure they have water on their farms, but we cannot say ‘no’ to this demand. We are in negotiation with DWS to re-open viable boreholes as the current arrangements are costing Makana a great deal of money.

Mr Xolani Mbandazayo, DWS, added that Forum members need to familiarise themselves with the Water Services Act and Municipal Systems Act. He also clarified that the bucket eradication programme does not extend to informal settlement, the area has to be formalised in order to qualify.

Councillor Julie Wells also clarified that Makana Council already has an application pending to open bore-holes on farms.

IWR Presentation

Professor Tally Palmer started by explaining what a catchment is and what constitutes a catchment. She explained that there are just 19 Catchment Management Authorities covering all of South Africa, and that the one Makana is in covers most of Eastern Cape, the Fish River to Tsitskamma CMA. Dividing this area into discreet areas is difficult because most rivers in Eastern Cape are short and one would end up with too many isolated little areas, so a number of Community Catchment Fora (CMF) cover more than one catchment. In the Makana case, situated in the Kowie catchment, there is the question how the CMF covers two municipalities, and Makana and Ndlambe.

Beyond these basics Professor Palmer then showed a slide indicating all the parts of government at different levels with responsibility for providing water and sanitation. Her first main point was that for Makana the ‘Water Authority’ is Makana Municipality, which sits under GOGTA. On the other hand the legislation and structures nationally to ensure adequate Water and Sanitation is governed by the Minister for Water. Immediately this creates two heads and the potential for misunderstandings. It also raises questions about which is the correct route for getting issues solved.

After describing the institutional arrangements and the position occupied by the new Catchment Management Forum (to incorporate the DWS Forum) she then quickly referred to some of the legislative provisions. In particular The National Water Act 1998, The Water Services Act, 1997 and The Municipal Services Act 2000.

Professor Palmer informed the group that she, together with Helen Hollerman (also present) had produced a handbook explaining the establishment of CMFs.

The meeting then moved onto housekeeping arrangements and next steps

The Makana municipality will provide the venues and catering for these forum meetings once they are set up. The venues will alternate between the City Hall and the Recreation Hall.

Five people were selected by the meeting, to meet with representatives from Makana and DWS on 23rd May to finalise the Terms of Reference for the CMF/ WSF combined. They represent the Kowie Catchment Campaign, Grahamstown Residents Association, Mobisam, farmers in Salem, another NPO in Makana and the Rhodes university

A date will be announced in due course for the next meeting, where it is anticipated that more stakeholders will be involved.

For further information the following have relevant information:

Catchment Management Agencies (Department of Water and Sanitation)