The Ministry of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has brought criminal charges against municipalities that did not meet water quality and infrastructure standards, as well as against municipalities that did not meet the deadline for submitting corrective action plans.
But Professor Michael Kidd, Lecturer in Environmental Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, says fining municipalities is an ineffective way to tackle the problem of poor delivery of water services.
Kid said The Daily Maverick: “In the end, the people who pay the fine are the taxpayers — you don’t actually affect any individual who might fail in their duty.
“Suing the municipality doesn’t solve the problem. It treats the symptoms, not the cause. And I think a lot of that has to do with optics — it’s the Water and Sewerage Department saying ‘Look what we’re doing.’ And if you ask how that determines how much wastewater goes into the rivers They won’t be able to answer in a positive way. In the end, I think he’s using the wrong tools in the wrong circumstances.”
Charged municipalities include:
These municipalities have violated several sections of the National Water Law, some of which involve water authorities (municipalities) that have failed to protect their water systems from pollution or have not implemented corrective steps required to address such issues.
DWS spokesman Wisan Mafasa said Daily Maverick That the department went through various procedures before filing criminal charges against the municipalities.
“When these cases precede the Green Drop 2022 report, more non-compliance for not submitting an action plan is added to the investigation. Department of Environmental Inspectors working alongside the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries nationally and regionally investigate environmental crimes specifically,” Mavasa said. Selection when it comes to water.
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Kidd added that suing the municipality would mean only fining the entities, not jail time. He said this has increased pressure on municipalities that have violated the powers of the National Water Law because they do not have the financial resources to address the problems of water service delivery.
Section 151 of the National Water Code provides a legal basis for DWS to bring charges against municipalities that have not handled contaminated water resources or those municipalities that do not fulfill a mandate to provide safe, clean drinking water to their residents.
“To be fair to the Department of Water and Sewerage, in a number of collective situations — looking at the performance from the Green Drop report — you have 50% or more of the municipal water treatment plants in the country that are not operating properly and in all likelihood are not complying with the law,” Kidd said. .
“If you look at them collectively, the Ministry of Water and Sanitation just doesn’t have the resources to address that. This is something that needs to be addressed at the cabinet level until you have the finances and the resources…to deal with the issues at the cause level.” DM
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