Department of Water and Sanitation
The National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency (NWRIA) is in the pipeline.
The water and sanitation minister, Senzo Mchunu, confirmed this during his department’s 2022 Budget Vote Speech in parliament.
The minister added that the NWRIA is designed to “leverage large-scale investments in national water resource infrastructure that are required to ensure that South Africa has sufficient bulk water supply now and in future”.
According to the minister, the Draft NWRIA Bill will soon be submitted to the cabinet committee following which approval by cabinet will be sought.
The plan is to table the draft bill in parliament before the end of the current financial year.
The minister also pointed out that the final draft of the business plan has been submitted to national treasury for comment.
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.
As regards groundwater, minister Mchunu announced that the water and sanitation department will be finalising and publishing improved regulations and guidelines for the extraction of groundwater and management of groundwater use this year.
“We will also be strengthening our monitoring and regulatory work with regard to the use of groundwater, to ensure that rights of use are not abused”, he said.
Meanwhile, during his Budget Vote speech, the deputy minister of water and sanitation, David Mahlobo, announced that the appointment of a Water Economic Regulation Committee, in terms of Section 76 of the Water Services Act, is being finalised.
“This committee will have sufficient regulatory autonomy to ensure that a balance is achieved between the protection of the interests of water consumers on the one hand and ensuring the financial viability of the water sector on the other hand”, he said.
The department also plans to approve the new Raw Pricing Strategy by the third quarter of the current financial year.
“This will replace the strategy which was approved in 2007 and will seek to put the water sector on a more sustainable financial footing”, he said.