The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) is continuing to call for an independent water regulator to not only regulate the country’s water sector but spearhead much needed interventions.

According to Outa the Department of Water and Sanitation has failed to effectively regulate South Africa’s water sector and as such the sector requires serious and effective intervention as well as the establishment of a regulator independent from the department.

Water Shortage South Africa (WSSA) agrees with Outa on this matter and has agreed to collaborate with Outa in championing for the establishment of an independent regulator in South Africa.

The organisation says the key drivers of the initiative are to permanently address the department’s failures in regulating South Africa’s water sector, ensure no political interference in how water is regulated and unlock and facilitate investment in South Africa’s water sector to ensure sustainable economic and socio-economic development.

The organisations have identified, among other things, the following lapses in water regulation that highlight the need for a regulator:

  • Blue and Green Drop Reports have not been published since 2014;
  • The Vaal River is seriously polluted by untreated sewage discharge;
  • Water pricing in municipalities is not regulated resulting in under recoveries and compromised services;
  • Agriculture is not able to access the required volumes and quality of irrigation water during normal seasons and drought; and
  • Municipalities are on average leaking 37% of their water.

The process towards this objective will have to consider competing schools of thought and interests. Part of Outa and WSSA’s work will be navigating this terrain with the assistance of specialists which form part of its steering committee to be chaired by Yamkela Ntola, Outa’s Water and Environment Portfolio Manager, and Benoît Le Roy, Chief Executive Officer of WSSA.

“Over the next two years the steering committee aims to engage all interested and affected stakeholders across the country to gather and consolidate their inputs to present before the appropriate state institutions,” explains Ntola.

“This will include, but will not be limited to, the agricultural, mining, manufacturing and the food and beverage industries,” she concludes.