By Schalk Mouton
A stiff increase in the price of water might soon be imposed to fund a backlog in the maintenance of the water-supply infrastructure.
William Moraka, water and sanitation specialist for the SA Local Government Association, told a meeting of mayors yesterday that consumers were paying too little for water.
He was speaking at the Department of Environmental Affairs’ mayoral conference on water conservation and demand management.
“In some instances our water costs R5 (for 1 000 litres). That is not enough,” said Moraka.
“Maybe we should charge R 20 a kilolitre. Then people would start conserving water. Because our water is too cheap, we don’t attach any value to it.”
The association, which represents municipalities, finalised two position papers and presented them to the body’s national executive committee for consideration on Monday.
One of the papers is intended to help municipalities establish the cost and pricing of their services, particularly water and sanitation.
The other is aimed at finding a funding model for the rapidly deteriorating water infrastructure at municipal level.
The first paper suggested a single costing and pricing model for all municipalities which, in some cases, undercharge for water.
“One municipality found that its cost of providing water was about R 42 – but it was charging only R 8. That’s a huge shortfall,” Moraka said.
A recent Department of Water Affairs study showed that 273 of 905 towns were running out of water.
It is estimated that 56% of towns will be without water within 10 years – not because of water shortage, but because of crumbling infrastructure and bad management.
Municipalities lose R7.2-billion worth of water a year through incompetent management of aspects such as billing.
About 36.8% of purified water is going to waste.
At three municipalities the supply of water was not billed.
In best performing municipalities less than 10% of water was wasted.
Moraka also proposed national legislation to deal with water theft.
“We want to make it a national crime,” he said.
“That R7-billion is the equivalent of Lesotho Highlands 2,” Moraka said, referring to a water-harvesting project that will cost South Africa R7-billion over 20 years.
“So we could build 20 dams equivalent to the Lesotho Highlands water project in terms of the money we lose as municipalities.”
The association’s other position paper looks at several options to fund the rehabilitation of failing infrastructure.
These include forming a “stokvel” to which municipalities would contribute 1% of their capital expenditure budget to a central fund.
Municipalities could then borrow from the fund for infrastructure projects and the money would be repaid by revenue generated by eliminating water losses.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Unfortunately it is true; we don’t attach enough ‘value’ to water. Only when it becomes expensive will people be forced to consider options like rainwater harvesting and recycling of grey water.