Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti has warned that as long as the conditions in the communities around the water sources do not change, there will continue to be difficulties that go on forever.
“Upstream must be properly identified as to where the pollution emanates from. The technical team must inform the politicians accordingly,” Minister Nkwinti said.
The Minister was addressing principals during a site visit at the Northern Operations Office of the department situated at the Hartbeespoort Dam.
The Minister paid a first visit to the Hartbeespoort Dam on Friday morning to receive an on-site briefing on operations around the dam, one of the department’s critical infrastructures within the North West Province.
The Hartbeespoort Dam is strategic as it receives the inflow from both the City of Johannesburg and City of Tshwane.
It also forms part of the Mokolo-Crocodile Project that is still under conceptualization, and it is a source for the Brits Water Treatment Works that is crucial for Madibeng Local Municipality.
Source of discontent
The briefing centred mainly around issues of water quality and land matters, which have become a source of discontent within the community and affecting tourism which is critical for the economic activity within the area.
In his remarks, Nkwinti said the issue of the state of the dam is raised mainly at the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation, as well as through the media.
“As a member of the Presidential Infrastructure Co-coordinating Commission (PICC) I also receive lots of reports on old infrastructure and particularly dams; Harties being one of those that are mainly referred to, especially the pollution in the water. This visit is meant to listen to the officials working with and on the dam, and also see the conditions for myself,” he said.
The presentation on Friday detailed the life of the dam from inception and all matters that affect the dam, including population growth, old and ageing infrastructure, complex socio-economic conditions in township settlements, such as failing infrastructure, as well as land matters.
The presentation also highlighted a need for the infrastructure in municipalities upstream of the dam that need to be ensured that they comply with the licence conditions.
There is a possibility that the review of these licences will assist in ensuring that such compliance, through sufficiently treated effluent together with properly operating wastewater treatment works will reduce treatment costs for the Madibeng Local Municipality.
Nkwinti said department officials need to change their attitude and ’release themselves’.
“Officials of the department underestimate themselves. This is something that I am discovering as I go around the country and engaging with officials.
“We must also get rid of the silo mentality as dictated by red tape. This is a systemic challenge that can only be changed by officials themselves. As a Minister I need to be informed by the technical training that officials have undergone,” he said.
He added that such meetings must happen quarterly and must be hosted by the municipality to enhance working together.
Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture Member of Mayoral Committee, DS Maimane welcomed the Minister’s visit, saying that it will enhance the cooperation between the department and the municipality.
“The issue of access to the dam also has racial undertones that cannot be afforded. There is also some information that the municipality received about the possibility of a land claim that might impact on the dam and its use. We would like to see you more Minister so that we can move together,” Maimane told Nkwinti.