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National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency Bill on Track

May 10, 2022

Department of Water and Sanitation

The water and sanitation department plans to submit the Draft National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency (NWRIA) Bill and finalise the business plan for the NWRIA during the current financial year.

The department confirmed this during a briefing in parliament on its 2022/23 Annual Performance Plan.

At the beginning of 2021, the then human settlements, water and sanitation minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, declared that the draft legislation to set up the NWRIA has been completed.

According to the minister, the primary objective of the Agency will be to “sustain and improve the performance of all strategically important water supply systems in regions where water security is at increasing risk”.
The Agency will be responsible for, inter alia:

  • The provision of water for all in the country in the most equitable manner;
  • Making sure that ordinary South Africans have access to sufficient clean water;
  • Ensuring that the economy has sufficient water so that it is functional and continues to expand; and
  • Support to the vision of universal dignified sanitation.

The minister declared that the “primary responsibility of the Agency is to ensure that quality water and sanitation is available to all South Africans and there is a guarantee of water sustainability for the economy”.

In order to achieve this, the Agency will work with municipalities, water boards, financial institutions, the agricultural community and other sectors such as mining.

“The Agency will strengthen the ability of the water sector to fund, build and operate the large water resource projects on which South Africa depends for its water security”, she said.

In March 2022, the department announced that consultations for the draft bill to set up the NWRIA, which seeks to address issues of water securities, socio-economic growth and development, took place in Pretoria.

During the State of the Nation Address in 2022, president Ramaphosa said the establishment of the NWRIA will be speeded up and a draft bill will soon be published for comment.

Other key strategic priorities for the year highlighted in the briefing include planning and implementing a range of major projects to augment national bulk water resource infrastructure; guiding and leading the development of other water resources, including groundwater and desalination; strengthening the department’s role in supporting and intervening in municipalities where municipal water and sanitation services are failing; strengthening regulatory interventions to address pollution of the environment and communities from waste-water; continuing to improve water-use license turnaround times and promoting transformation in water-use; guiding and leading increased water-use efficiency and demand and conservation management; reducing irregular, unauthorized and wasteful expenditure and ensuring consequence management for financial misconduct and improving revenue collection across the water value chain.