Parliament shows support for Independent Water Regulator

Two years ago OUTA and Water Shortage SA started campaigning for the establishment of an Independent Water Regulator. Now Parliament is starting to show an interest in such a regulator.

21/06/2021 07:33:28


Parliament shows support for Independent Water Regulator


OUTA and Water Shortage South Africa have again sent information to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, motivating for the establishment of an Independent Water Regulator, and this time Parliament has indicated support.

“In the light of our current water crisis, I fully agree with you that the establishment of the Independent Water Regulator for South Africa is long overdue,” said Rosina Semenya, the Chair of the Portfolio Committee, in a letter to OUTA and Water Shortage SA. She invited the organisations to submit their findings and recommendations on the matter to her office, and undertook to consider them. Semenya’s letter is here.

OUTA and Water SA have sent this information and now hope to engage with the Committee soon after the parliamentary recess. OUTA and Water Shortage SA are willing to help Parliament draft the policy for a regulator. OUTA-Water Shortage SA’s response is here.

“Support from Parliament is crucial, as establishing an Independent Water Regulator requires a change in legislation. We welcome Parliament’s interest in this and are keen to meet the portfolio committee,” says Julius Kleynhans, Executive Manager for OUTA’s Public Governance Division.

OUTA and Water SA started campaigning together for this more than two years ago.


Why we want an Independent Water Regulator

Kleynhans says the lack of accountability in our municipalities is the fundamental cause of sewage pollution in rivers and dams, decaying infrastructure, mistrust in the quality of drinking water, and water shortages.

“Polluting water is criminal. The biggest polluters in our country are the municipalities which discharge partially treated or untreated sewage, which is criminal. We will only see change when those who fail in their responsibility to ensure that sewage discharged meets the strictly regulated quality standard, are locked up in jail for their wrongdoing,” says Kleynhans.

Benoît Le Roy, CEO of Water Shortage SA, says that the implementation of the government’s Water and Sanitation Master Plan hinges on regulatory certainty. The private sector participation – which is key – requires independent and credible regulation of water quantities, quality and pricing, to ensure water security for all as espoused by the National Water Security Framework.


Background

In 2019, OUTA and Water Shortage South Africa joined forces to create public awareness, and garner support for, the establishment of an Independent Water Regulator. Our statement outlining our position is here and a media summary is here.

In April 2019, OUTA and Water Shortage SA published a position paper on this issue. This paper is here.

During 2019, the concept of an IWR was widely workshopped – including at the National Water Security Framework Workshop held at the Union Buildings on 24 June 2019 – and was generally supported, with some notable exceptions. In most cases the exceptions have been raised by parties that directly benefit from the status quo and who see a loss of future revenue once an independent regulatory authority is established.


Voicenote

A voicenote with comment from Julius Kleynhans, Executive Manager for OUTA’s Public Governance Division, is here.