The Department of Water and Sanitation’s latest financial report has sparked concerns within the water stressed City of Cape Town.

More than R1-billion in wasteful expenditure, and more than R4.9-billion in irregular spending was reflected by the department in their annual report tabled at Parliament last week.

Talking to Independent Online, mayoral committee member for Water, Xanthea Limberg, said it was very concerning to understand the scale at which there was poor planning and lack of capacity in the department.

“This places municipalities such as ours at risk with our water augmentation schemes. However, at this stage we don’t know if the department will be forced to cut back on projects,” Limberg told Independent Online.

Bulk water supply schemes under threat  

Limberg noted that she was particularly concerned for bulk water supply projects that are meant to help boost water supply in the City.

According to Independent Online the department had drawn up a Western Cape Water Reconciliation Strategy to help boost water supply and one of the projects it committed to was the Voelvlei Augmentation Scheme.

The project was designed to divert water from the Berg River to boost water supply to municipalities in the catchment area, including Cape Town.

Limberg urged National Treasury to intervene and help get the department get its finances in order. “If it’s delayed, it’s far too risky as we don’t have alternatives. So we would need to be made aware in advance so we can get clarity and certainty,” Limberg said.

While winter rainfall and water saving measures have helped to improve the the water situation in the City, following the three-year drought, officials have warned that the City is not yet out of the woods.

Not enough to go around

Commenting on the situation the department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, told Independent Online that the department would look at “reprioritising available resources to ensure that the core work continued”.

But he warned that the fiscus on its own would not be sufficient to ensure delivery of “all social needs”, including water and sanitation.

Independent Online