As the world celebrates international World Water Day today, the Democratic Alliance has launched our Water Watch Eastern Cape initiative.
This initiative, which will monitor the water quality results of all Eastern Cape municipalities on a quarterly basis, will serve as a watchdog for the public because, more often than not, municipalities don’t release compromised water quality results.
We have experienced, first hand, how the province’s two metros, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City, which account for over 2 million people combined, cannot provide reliable potable water to drink. Both metro mayors have had to tell residents not to drink the tap water.
The water crisis is directly impacting the economy and adversely affecting the health of individuals.
But it is not just in the metro’s where there is a crisis. The entire Eastern Cape’s water infrastructure systems are failing. Cities and towns across the province cannot keep water flowing, and there are no guarantees that if there is water, it is safe to drink.
In the Blue Crane Municipality, Somerset East has struggled with water supply from October to February, while dams were overflowing due to collapsing infrastructure. Hamburg and surrounds in the Nqushwa Municipality have been without water for months.
The Ndlambe Municipality, which includes the towns of Port Alfred and Bathurst, has been struggling with water for years as the Sarel Hayward Dam supplying Port Alfred and the Golden Ridge Dam supplying Bathurst have run dry.
All these examples show that the province does not just have a water crisis, it has a water management crisis. Local municipalities are failing in their mandate to provide the people of the Eastern Cape with water.
Our people are fed up, and rightly so. They deserve better!
Yesterday, as part of Human Rights Day, the DA handed over memorandums to both Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City, calling for them to be more transparent in releasing water testing results.
However, based on the ANC government’s track records to date, the DA has decided that these administrations cannot be relied on to provide residents with reliable feedback.
The DA will now submit quarterly PAIA applications for the mandatory water test results from each Eastern Cape municipality. These results will be reviewed by an internal water quality committee that has been established, which will also be able to solicit advice from external water experts.
We have been very successful in obtaining information from the Department of Water and Sanitation in the past. Should we not receive the information, however, we also have assistance from independent attorneys who will be able to take any refusal to any such information under review.
We believe it is critical that we interrogate the official results pertaining to water quality and to monitor and release advice on municipalities where water quality has dropped to such an extent that it poses a potential risk to the wellbeing of people.
If the ANC will not keep the people of this province informed, the DA will do it for them.