Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has guaranteed the continuation of running water in households who qualify for the basic daily water supply of 35 litres per person to 30 municipalities that still owe more than R10 billion for bulk water supply.

Briefing the media in Pretoria, Mokonyane says the decision to continue with the water supply to defaulting municipalities was taken after the department engaged with stakeholders, including Treasury, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and South African Local Government Association (Salga).

However, Mokonyane named and shamed eight of the 30 municipalities who still owe both the department and water boards. These municipalities will be affected by bulk water restrictions.

She says since the departments started with its engagements with the defaulting municipalities it has recovered and received about R300 million of outstanding debt and commitment to pay by some municipalities.

“Municipalities that are the main culprits now that we do believe a lot of engagement should actually be pursued with them and they are the ones who would be affected by the reduction of the pressure going forward, that is the Masuka-Lekoa Local Municipality; the Madibeng Local Municipality; Mafube Local Municipality; Maluti A Phofung Municipality, Dikgatlong Local Municipality; Tsantabane Local Municipality, Ditsobotla Local Municipality and Ngaka Modiri- Molema.”

Mokonyane says government plans to establish a multi-million rand desalination plant in the Western Cape and are at an advanced stage. Water levels in dams in the province have been dropping due to the drought. Mokonyane says all indications are that the province, which depends on winter rain, will still experience dry conditions until next winter.

The minister says they are currently working with the Umgeni Water Board to create water desalination plants in Cape Town.

“We are deploying the Umgeni Water Board to provide the support to City of Cape Town with the desalination options. Umgeni Water have initiated procurement process to source a 10 mega litres per day modular desalination plant similar to the plant installed in KZN in Richards Bay. The estimate cost to install such plant is between R440 to R500 million.”

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