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.
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)
Ntombi Tshicilela, Makana Manager for Water and Sanitation
Chris Nair, Amatola Water
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.
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.
Mr Mlenzaza 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 many 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 resevoirs 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 qualified 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 Mega Litres per day, but normal demand runs at 7.4 Mega Litres per day, and after heavy rain this can increase to around 10 Mega Litres. The Mayfield has a capacity of 2.5 Mega Litres per day but the demand is 2.8 Mega Litres per day. He outlined plans to use DWS funding of R72 million to increase the Mayfield capacities to 10 Mega Litres per day by the end of 2017. A further R2.5 million funding will be used towards a study to assess what needs to be done at the Belmont Valley.
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 from the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) to deal with sewer leaks.
To sum up, Mr Mlenzaza stated that the situation for water and sanitation will improve greatly by the end of the 2017/18 financial year.
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’, how will people get toilets without 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 educational training and share information on how to use the system.
Why doesn’t the municipality assist farmers to access bore-hole water on their farms instead of wasting money and 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 ensure 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. A sum of R1 million is spent each month to ensure water is delivered to farms.
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.
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 in Makana 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 Makana Municipality acts as the ‘Water Service Authority’ and ‘Water Service Provider’, which sits under COGTA. On the other hand the legislation and structures nationally ensure adequate water and sanitation is governed by the Minister for Water and Sanitation. 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.
A Task Team was 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:
Kowie Catchment Campaign – Tim Bull
Grahamstown Residents Association – Tim Bull
MobiSAM – Joshua Osah
Farmers in Salem/CPA – Ms Ziqula
McKaizer Old Age Home/NPO – John Sphere
Rhodes University/Institute for Water Research – Prof Tally Palmer
Makana Municipality – Yoliswa Ramokolo
Makana Municipality – Ntombi Tshicilela
Department of Water & Sanitation – Xolani Mbandazayo
Department of Water & Sanitation – Ananias Mamabolo
DWS, IWR, KCC and Makana to discuss and set CMF workshop dates before the next Forum meeting
Information on by-laws, meter readings and rates payment should be on the agenda for the next meeting
Identify sector departments/stakeholders to be represented in the forum.
(Note: an email was sent to over 300 recepients for the meeting including all government departments in Makana, Councillors, Ward Committee Members, business community, schools and many other stakeholders but only few stakeholders were in the meeting. The media including Grocotts Mail, Grahamstown Residents Association facebook page, Grahamstown Parents Network newsletter, also shared the invite).
A date will be announced in due course for the next meeting after the Task Team has the combined ToR. 28 July 2016.