South African municipalities pay US $157.62m to water boards

South African municipalities have paid a total of US $157.62m to water boards as settlement for their outstanding debt to the department of water and sanitation.

According to Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, the accumulated amount is owing to 60 days of unpaid bills. She further added that the water trading entity of the department recently received US $4.11m from the municipalities.

This is following an announcement made by the Minister about the department’s efforts on recovering a total outstanding debt of approximately US $792m. The amount is what the municipalities owe the department and water boards.

Also read: South Africa’s Lushushwane Bulk Water Supply Project begins

Restriction of bulk water supply

According to the Minister, the department will commence with the restriction of bulk water supply. However, this rationing will only apply to the municipalities with payment defaults.

She, however, emphasized that the department will not cut water supply. On the other hand, they will likely reduce the pressure at which it is supplied. This is to ensure that citizens are provided with the minimal allocation of water.

Ms. Mokonyane explained that 40% augmentation of the restricted volume will cater for supply to informal settlements as well as water losses within the reticulation system.

Challenges

An analysis by the department of the top 30 defaulting municipalities has highlighted several systematic challenges that require the interventions of the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Ministry and the provinces in support of municipalities.

According to the analysis, the majority of these fall between high to extreme vulnerability in areas such as revenue collection, wastewater management and compliance, financial and infrastructure asset management as well as operations and maintenance.

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