Independent Water Regulator promised for 2022/23
The government has included an independent water regulator in the draft National Infrastructure Development Plan 2050.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) and Water Shortage South Africa have been campaigning for the establishment of an independent water regulator since January 2019 and, in April 2019, published a position paper on this (see here).
On 9 August, the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure released the draft National Infrastructure Development Plan for public comment by 17 September: see here. It includes separating regulation from water resource management and water services provision, which is what OUTA and Water Shortage SA want.
OUTA and Water Shortage SA regard this as a big milestone for South Africa’s water management, a victory for every person in South Africa if this goes ahead. Both organisations say that it is still a process that needs to come to fruition but that they are willing to work with authorities to put together a workable plan for South Africa’s regulated water future.
“We have seen water governance being destroyed, the Department of Water and Sanitation looted by the corrupt, municipalities polluting our rivers and providing substandard drinking water and very little progress in water strategy and plan execution. By separating the players and the referee, this should be a new playing field where accountability over this scarce resource can be implemented and transgressors be held to account,” says Julius Kleynhans, Executive Manager for Public Governance at OUTA.
Benoît Le Roy, CEO of Water Shortage SA, says that the implementation of the Water and Sanitation Master Plan hinges on regulatory certainty. The private sector participation that is key requires independent and credible regulation of water quantities, qualities and pricing to inculcate water security for all as espoused by the National Water Security Framework that will serve to assist in attracting investment back to South Africa.
The introduction of an independent water regulator will ensure that regulatory oversight and licensing regimes become more robust, addressing both water quantity and quality, as well as pricing and the technical performance and financial sustainability institutions.
In June this year, Parliament indicated that it was in agreement with OUTA and Water Shortage SA that the establishment of the Independent Water Regulator for South Africa is long overdue.
OUTA and Water Shortage SA are willing to help Parliament draft the policy for a regulator and hope to engage with the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation soon following the parliamentary recess.
A soundclip with comment from OUTA's Julius Kleynhans is here.