WATER and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu says there are no further delays anticipated for the completion of the Nooitgedacht/Coega Low Level Water Scheme in the Eastern Cape.
Mchunu was in province for two days to attend to water issues in the Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City motors, as well as the Sarah Baartman District Municipality.
The visit comes after residents in the municipalities complained about contaminated drinking water.
Joined by Deputy Ministers David Mahlobo and Dikeledi Magadzi, Mchunu met with officials from the three municipalities, including the Amatola Water Board, Amatola Labour and the province’s business sector.
On the second day of the visit, Mchunu led a site visit to Nooitgedacht Water Treatment Works just outside Gqeberha. The plant is currently on Phase 3 of construction, which is at 99% completion.
The project was expected to be completed in 2019, but due to several delays, the completion date was pushed back.
During a meeting, Mchunu heard that the plant was due to release its first water to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality on 1 April 2022.
Mchunu said the goal is to increase water security across the country and provide quality water in a sustainable way.
“We are here to face up to [the] challenge. We are going to households. Every household must get access to water, where they are,” Mchunu said.
The minister said the main challenge facing Gqeberha is how to deliver quality water during a drought, while getting water from low-level reservoirs.
“I will meet with the technical team to brainstorm ideas… and engage with the metro to come up with possible solutions.”
Mchunu commended the progress at Nooitgedacht, but emphasised that he still expects more efficiency, hard work and service delivery from the Metro.
He told Metro officials to start deploying engineers to the plant, noting that the work would not conclude when the handover happens. “The plant will need to be maintained for it to be sustainable for the people it will serve.”
The Minister also raised concerns regarding Amatola Water Board’s functionality, saying that the organisation is not stable.
“It is not stable in finances, in good governance and service delivery. We are not done with them; we will meet with the board again,” Mchunu said.
The board was also criticised for delays in projects at both Sarah Baartman District Municipality and the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
“Their work at Nooitgedacht shows that in part, [they] can do the work. We have made lots of notes regarding the board, however, there is no finding as yet.”
Mchunu said more research and work needed to be done in drought-ridden areas for the utilisation of groundwater.
“There need to be plans that will ensure sustainable use of groundwater… Drilling a borehole here and there, and not being sure when it will run out, is not sustainable.
“We are not comprehensive enough in terms of ground water. I want to propose that [we] do some dedicated and sustainable research with regard to groundwater,” Mchunu said. – SAnews.gov.za