Minister of Water and Sanitation, Gugile Nkwinti, has urged industry players to tap into new local technologies and solutions that will address the service delivery challenges plaguing the water sector.

Speaking at the at the Water and Sanitation Innovation and Technology Solutions Exhibition this past weekend, Nkwinti, lamented the fact that despite so many innovators in the sector, South Africa still faced a myriad of challenges.

Nkwinti said events like the Innovation and Technology Solutions Exhibition were essential for the industry to get some insight into the new technologies that are on the market. “We need to look at new ways of providing the services that we are responsible for,” he noted.

Capacity challenges require innovation

Nkwinti said the country was faced with a serious challenge of capacity. He highlighted the spillages in municipalities as examples of a number of critical problems that required attention and innovation.

“Our Waste Water Treatment Works do not have the capacity to cope with the developments that are taking place; hence the question is ‘How can technology address these and other problems that we face?’ We have to work together to find innovative solutions,” Nkwinti said.

Bottlenecks to delivery

Washington Nyabeze, a well-renowned researcher in the water industry, identified several problems that were bottlenecks to the delivery of water and sanitation by the government.

He advised the department to make water accessible to the poor by making it cheap.

One of the main problems that plague South Africa is the pollution of water. Nyabeze called for the prosecution and imprisonment of culprits.

He said the department must accelerate the establishment of water catchment management agencies to address water issues at the local level.

“It is unacceptable that 20 years on, we only have two water catchment management institutions”, Nyabeze said.

National Water and Sanitation Master Plan

Meanwhile Trevor Balzer, the department’s Deputy Director-General of Special and Strategic Projects, presented the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan that will address the water country’s water challenges by 2030 and beyond.

The plan, which has been approved by Cabinet, is in the process of being addressed through Parliament.