Statement by Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa at the Release of the National Blue Drop Water Quality Assessment Report
7 May 2012
Water quality in our country is a key priority for the Department of Water Affairs. We take very seriously our mandate as custodian of the nation’s water resources and we have over the years sought to perfect our strategies and planning initiatives to ensure only the best water is supplied to citizens.
I am pleased that, through our efforts as the water sector, South Africa’s tap water remains among the best in the world and we are one of only a handful of countriese where you can drink water directly from the tap. We are therefore committed to doing everything in our power to ensure this does not change but instead improves further.
The Blue Drop Certification Programme is our very own innovative means of regulation, designed and implemented with the objective of improving tap water quality management. This is a flagship innovation of the Department; one that I am happy to say has been embraced by the majority of our municipalities over the past four years. This is borne out by the marked improvement in the submission of performance portfolios by municipalities.
I must however stress that a town or city whose water is not given a Blue Drop Certificate is not necessarily unsafe for human consumption. The certificate is awarded as an acknowledgement of Excellent Drinking Water Quality management which surpasses the requirements of national norms and standards by a significant margin. In fact there are a number of water systems in many towns where the water complies well with set standards but there are certain shortcomings identified with the overall risk management aspect.
The report of 2012 shows significant improvements which serve as evidence of the positive impact this incentive-based regulation approach is having on the South African water sector. The first Blue Drop report of 2009 indicated that the national microbiological compliance for South African tap water was measured at 93.3% against the National Standard (SANS 241). Notably this has increased to 97.3% in the 2012 reporting cycle. The overall national drinking water compliance figure is recorded at 98.93% (based upon microbiological, chemical, physical and organoleptic data)
I will now give you a short breakdown of how the municipalities performed. The Top Ten municipalities are: Ekurhuleni in the Gauteng Province which scored 98.95 %, City of Johannesburg with 98.92%, Mogale City local municipality also in the Gauteng Province with 98.79% followed closely by Ethekwini Metro in KZN with 98.77%, Tlokwe Local Municipality in the North West province 98.45%, the City of Cape Town attained 98.14%, Witzenberg Local Municipality in the Western Cape is at 97.63%, the Randfontein Local Municipality in Gauteng 97.54 and the George Local Municipality 97.41 %. That ladies and gentlemen is our top ten performing water services authorities and municipalities for the 2012 reporting cycle. You will find the list and scores in you pack.
I want to congratulate our top ten performers and all the other municipalities that have done well and at the same time I wish to encourage those that have not as yet reached these exceptionally high standards to continue to strive to improve. There are two municipalities who deserve a special mention. The Victor Kanye Local municipality (formerly Delmas) in Mpumalanga scored 18.26% last year (2011) and this year their scored jumped to an astonishing 80.07%, and the Thembisile Local Municipality also in Mpumalanga last year obtained 27.77% this year they managed to reach 78.30%. Well done.
I wish to draw you attention to what has become a key performance area in the assessment process. Water safety planning. This a fundamental component of the Blue Drop Certification programme, it was introduced by the World Health Organisation and first implemented in our country in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In 2011 it was reported that 154 systems have water safety plans in place while during the 2012 audits it was confirmed that 579 water supply systems
had water safety plans in place.
The significance of water safety planning is that it is a safety-net to ensure people’s lives are not placed at risk when issues of contamination occur in the drinking water supply. An example of this, is when contamination of water at Diepsloot in Gauteng occurred, because safety planning was in place authorities were able to shut down the water supply until they were satisfied the water was again safe to drink.
The Department is measuring performance of municipalities on the key performance indicators of the Regulatory Performance Measurement System (RPMS). This year the Department releases this Municipal Water Services Performance Assessment report together with the Blue Drop report to allow the public a view on the status of municipal water services and allow the authorities to compare their performance with other similar sized municipalities. Unfortunately as you will see in the Blue Drop report there are those municipalities that we are gravely concerned about such as the Koukamma and Ikwezi Local Municipalities both in the Eastern Cape were the water is not at all safe to drink.
The unsatisfactory performance of Koukamma is reflected in the RPMS report as well, noting the need for urgent overall improvement.
Communities have been informed not to drink the tap water without improving the quality first by either boiling or using other methods of purification. We are working closely with these municipalities to bring the water quality up to standard. In conclusion I want to thank all the staff that have worked tirelessly during the assessment period, the municipalities, water services authorities for their co-operation and everyone involved in the process that has led to where we are today. Keep up the good work.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Water Affairs
7 May 2012
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