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DA: Statement by Annette Lovemore, Democratic Alliance shadow deputy minister of water and environmental affairs, welcoming the decision to release Green Drop report (28/04/2010)

28th April 2010

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/ MEDIA STATEMENT / The content on this page is not written by Polity.org.za, but is supplied by third parties. This content does not constitute news reporting by Polity.org.za.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the announcement by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs that the Green Drop report will finally be released tomorrow. The DA has called on numerous occasions for the release of this report, and has expressed concern that the delay in releasing the report has primarily been due to its shocking content.

Earlier this month, in my budget debate speech, I released details from the Green Drop Report's executive summary, which had been leaked to me. The Executive Summary showed, amongst other things, that only 32, or 7.4 %, of wastewater works have actually achieved Green Drop status. (Since 53% of our wastewater works were assessed as part of the Green Drop, it is in fact only clear that 3.8 % of works comply fully with requirements).

I believe that our release of the executive summary of the report left the minister with little choice but to release the rest of the document.

The Minister will also be announcing tomorrow that only 45% of the works assessed scored better than 50%.

South Africa has 852 municipal wastewater treatment plants. More than R3.5 billion is spent annually on the operation of these works. Despite this, the Green Drop report notes that "the municipal waste water services business is generally considered to be far from acceptable".

Only 53% of our wastewater works were actually assessed; the report cites the following reasons for this:

Municipalities not adhering to the call to be assessed, or
Municipal officials not sufficiently confident in their levels of competence to be subjected to assessments, or
Municipalities not managing waste water services according to expected requirements and therefore not in possession of management information required for Green Drop assessments.

As a result of the widespread discharge of partially treated or wholly untreated sewage by municipalities, ground and surface water quality is deteriorating fast. People have died after drinking polluted water. Animals in the Kruger National Park and ecosystems across the country are under threat. Tourism is compromised by the eutrophication of rivers and dams, as is evident in Hartebeespoort. Water treatment costs are escalating due to poor raw water quality. Farmers are unable to irrigate with polluted river water. The availability of water to sustain economic development and human and environmental health is diminishing. Opportunities are being seriously undermined.

The DA has previously stated that the public has a right to know the extent of the dysfunctionality of municipal sewage treatment works, and, most importantly, has a right to demand that the Department make public its plans to address this dysfunctionality.

The Minister stated, in a reply to a 2009 DA parliamentary question, that "an action plan is being finalised, based upon the findings of the assessment". The DA is aware that the figures quoted above have been common knowledge within the Department since at least May 2009, and quite probably well before that date. It is most disturbing that is, after almost a year, the Department still does not have an action plan which details a set of urgent measures to address the obviously extreme level of dysfunctionality within this sphere of the water service sector.

Thus, while we welcome the release of the report, we await the much-needed action plan to rectify this crisis situation. We will apply as much pressure on the Minister to achieve this as we have in ensuring the release of the Green Drop report.

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