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Long-awaited national water master plan to see light in September

The first draft of a master plan aimed at “re-engineering the manner in which the water and sanitation business in South Africa is coordinated and guided” is expected to be tabled in September, more than a year after its intended completion of August 2016.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) on Friday convened a national dialogue in Pretoria to obtain stakeholder input in an effort to complete the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan (NW&SMP) “as a matter of urgency”.

DWS embarked on the development of the national plan to assist government with its investment planning for the development of water resources and sanitation services until 2030, Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister Pamela Tshwete told delegates at the dialogue.

The core purpose of the plan is to provide an overall perspective of the scope of water and sanitation in the country, provide an estimate on the investment required to ensure effective water resources and water and sanitationservices delivery, and facilitate effective integrated investment planning, the coordinated implementation of actions and the evaluation of achievements.

“The water sector has achieved a lot, but more needs to be done,” she said.

Despite initiatives and considerable financial investments over the past two decades, there are still considerable gaps in the adequate provision and management of the country’s scarce water supply and sanitation challenges, DWS director-general Dan Mashitisho said.

“It is, in a nutshell, about sustainability,” he stated, adding that the country needed to plan for security of supply and the preservation and management of the precious resource.

“We are not going to spend more time in analysis and paralysis. We need to adopt a critical path; quickly get into this plan and implement,” he promised.

Mashitisho further indicated that the final NW&SMP must highlight where South Africa’s water sector was, whether its development was in line with national plans, where the sector wanted to be and how any gaps could be bridged.

“The plan is not a goal in itself, it is the process to getting to the already established 2030 plans,” he said, pointing out the NW&SMP will be aligned with, and supplement, various national and international plans, programmes and agreements, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the National Development Plan, the National Water Resource Strategy and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.

Specifically, the master plan will narrow its focus to “identification, prioritisation and execution of action”, with specific responsibilities and timeframes attached, and will relate to all sectors of the economy, including urban and rural development, energy, agriculture and mining.

The urgency of the plan could also see the DWS implementing some components of the plan while the document is under construction.

The NW&SMP would concentrate on existing and new projects and, where necessary, the implementation of additional projects to fill gaps in water and sanitation service delivery.

“It aims to mould existing and possible future work into a cohesive integrated approach, supporting enabling components to make it possible,” explained DWS deputy director-general for planning and information management Deborah Mochotlhi.

“It is about bridging the gap – everything we are doing related to water and sanitation must be under one umbrella.”

She cited uncoordinated planning, or planning in silos, as a significant contributor to delays in the realisation of benefits from water resources development, resulting in delays in infrastructure development.

Further, the water sector suffered inadequate funding and strained finances, in addition to the neglect of operations and maintenance, the deterioration of quality, a shortage of skills, the wastage or inefficient use of water and uninformed communities.

ROADMAP ROADSHOW

The new plan would deal with institutional and legal arrangements for implementation, operation and maintenance, funding requirements and models, and monitoring and evaluation models, in a clear roadmap.

“The master plan guides, integrates, sets priorities [for] and facilitates infrastructure development, refurbishment, operations and maintenance, nonrevenue water, stakeholder and community involvement and public awareness, investment programmes, the collaboration of accountable government authorities, institutional arrangements and roles, water use authorisations and compliance monitoring and enforcement,” she added.

The provincial and water management area roadshows will be held between June 21 and July 27.

The plan was initially targeted for completion in August 2016; however, Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane noted last year that it was delayed owing to the large scale of the work, extensive data, resource requirements and the need for broad consultations.

The development of the master plan is also underpinned by collaboration with the Netherlands, with experts assisting with the integration of the various specialist inputs into the final document.

The plan will be updated and revised periodically.

Source : Engineering News