Reviving SA’s Water Health: Minister Mchunu Unveils Critical Drop Reports

Senzo Mchunu
  • Revival of the Drop Reports: Minister Senzo Mchunu has reintroduced the Green, Blue, and No Drop Certification programmes, regulatory tools aimed at improving South Africa’s water quality, wastewater management, and water conservation.
  • Key Findings from the 2023 Drop Watch Reports: The reports reveal significant challenges in the water sector, including a decline in drinking water quality, an increase in non-revenue water, and a failure by half of the municipalities to improve their critically deficient wastewater systems.
  • Future Actions and Reforms: In response to these findings, the Department of Water and Sanitation has issued compliance notices and directives to the relevant municipalities and is supporting interventions to improve water and sanitation services. The results also indicate a need for legislative reforms to ensure efficient and professionally managed water service providers.

In a significant development for South Africa’s water and sanitation sector, Minister Senzo Mchunu has released the Blue Drop Watch Report, the No Drop Watch Report, and the Green Drop Watch Report. These reports, regulatory tools of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), aim to improve municipal drinking water quality, wastewater management, and water conservation and demand management.

Revival of the Drop Reports

The Green, Blue, and No Drop Certification programmes were initially introduced by DWS in 2008 and 2014, respectively, but were halted later. Minister Mchunu revived these programmes after his appointment in late 2021, leading to the release of the 2022 Green Drop Report and the 2022 Blue Drop Progress report.

The Water Cycle and the Role of the Drop Reports

The reports provide a comprehensive assessment of the state of all drinking water and wastewater treatment systems in South Africa. They also evaluate the efficiency of drinking water distribution systems of municipalities. The reports are designed to identify shortcomings and provide guidance on how to improve water and sanitation services.

Key Findings from the 2023 Drop Watch Reports

The 2023 Green Drop Watch report reveals that 50% of municipalities whose wastewater systems were found to be in a critical state in the 2022 Green Drop report have failed to develop and implement plans to improve them. The Blue Drop Watch Report indicates a decline in drinking water quality since the last report, with a significant number of municipalities failing to meet the SANS 241 standard for safe drinking water. The No Drop Watch Report shows an increase in non-revenue water since the last report, with the national figure estimated to be 46%, significantly higher than the international average of below 30%.

Looking Ahead

In response to these findings, the Department has issued compliance notices and directives to the relevant municipalities. The Department is also supporting and intervening in many municipalities across the country to improve water and sanitation services. The results of the 2023 Watch Reports indicate that legislative reforms may be required to ensure that water service providers are professionally managed, efficient, and financially viable institutions.

For more detailed information, the interim Watch Reports can be accessed on the Department’s official website.

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