Municipal Services

Our water rights – and Makana’s responsibilities

Given the recent disruptions to our water supply, it is important for citizens to know some of the key legislation relating to Water Provision in South Africa. PSAM’s Thabani Mdlongwa takes us through the Draft Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for Makana, and what exactly the Municipality’s responsibilities are.

According to the Draft IDP 2014-2015 for Makana Municipality, Makana is both the Water Service Authority and Water Service Provider for the area. The Municipality is also responsible for the provision of all other local government services like roads, storm water management, electricity, and the collection and disposal of waste.

The Draft IDP also points out that the water quality is monitored by an Environmental Health Practitioner attached to Cacadu District Municipality. Water samples are collected and submitted to the National Health Laboratory for analysis of its microbial quality and suitability for human consumption.

In addition to the South African Constitution Section 27 which provides for the rights to health care, food, water and social security; the Water Services Act (WSA) 108 of 1997 is the key legislation that regulates water provision in South Africa.

The following key aspects of the WSA legislation are important for citizens to know as they are essential components in the service delivery of water in South Africa.

According to the WSA Chapter 1 Section (3) on the Right of access to basic water supply and basic sanitation the following key provisions apply:

(1) “Everyone has a right of access to basic water supply and basic sanitation.

(2) Every water services institution must take reasonable measures to realise these rights.

(3) Every water services authority must, in its water services development plan, provide for measures to realise these rights.

(4) The rights mentioned in this section are subject to the limitations contained in this Act.”

According to the WSA Chapter 3 Section (11) on Water Service authorities and the Duty to provide access to water services the following key provisions apply:

(1) “Every water services authority has a duty to all consumers or potential consumers in its area of jurisdiction to progressively ensure efficient, affordable, economical and sustainable access to water services.

(4) A water services authority may not unreasonably refuse or fail to give access to water services to a consumer or potential consumer in its area of jurisdiction.

(5) In emergency situations a water services authority must take reasonable steps to provide basic water supply and basic sanitation services to any person within its area of jurisdiction and may do so at the cost of that authority.”

According to the WSA Chapter 3 Section (12) on Water Service authorities and the Duty to prepare a draft water services development plan the following key provisions apply:

(1) “Every water services authority must, within one year after the commencement of this Act –

       (a) As part of the process of preparing any integrated development plan in terms of the Local    Government Transition Act, 1993 (Act No. 209 of 1993); or

      (b) Separately, if no process contemplated in paragraph (a) has been initiated, prepare –

           (i) A draft water services development plan for its area of jurisdiction; and

          (ii) A summary of that plan.”

According to the WSA Chapter 3 Section (15) on Water Service authorities and the Adoption of a development plan the following key provisions apply:

(4) “A copy of the development plan –

      (a) Must be available for inspection at the offices of the water services authority; and

      (b) Must be obtainable against payment of a nominal fee.

(5) A water services development plan must form part of any integrated development plan contemplated in the Local Government Transition Act, 1993 (Act No. 209 of 1993).”

In ensuring that quality service delivery with regards to water provision is provided it is imperative for municipal authorities to adhere to these laws above, and equally for citizens to be aware of these laws, so that if they are being violated they can take necessary action against the municipality for not sticking to these laws. This is to secure the continued quality service delivery of water.

Thabani Mdlongwa is a Local Government Researcher at the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) and can be reached in the following ways:
Thabani Mdlongwa
Local Government Researcher
Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM)
Rhodes University
PO Box 94
Grahamstown
6139
Tel: 046 603 8358
Fax: 046 603 7578
Website: http://www.psam.org.za
Email: t.mdlongwa@ru.ac.za

https://www.facebook.com/publicserviceaccountabilitymonitor

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One thought on “Our water rights – and Makana’s responsibilities

  1. Pingback: Know your Consumer Rights |

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