A joint venture by civil society organisations has mapped the way forward for South Africa’s first independent water regulator.

A new in-depth position paper, developed by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) together with Water Shortage South Africa (Water Shortage SA), outlines the urgent need for an independent water regulator.

In 2015 it was estimated that there is just over 1200 kilolitres of fresh water available for each person per annum for a population of approximately 42 million, of which most is already allocated. With an increased population since then, the availability of water per person has therefore decreased.

Water quality is of dire concern. The position paper states: “ There is ongoing pollution of water resources by effluent discharged from malfunctioning municipal wastewater treatment works, and there have been problems with drinking water quality in a number of towns”.

The organisations championing the establishment of an independent water regulator have already begun consultations with industry stakeholders to ensure all challenges are represented before parliament is approached.

“The position paper will form the basis of our engagements with stakeholders in the water sector, which includes the Department of Water and Sanitation” explains Benoit Le Roy, Water Shortage SA CEO.

Yamkela Ntola, OUTA’s water and environment portfolio manager adds that “it is important to note that neither OUTA nor Water Shortage SA are campaigning for denationalisation or privatisation of South Africa’s water sector, and that in no way will the organisations prescribe the functions of the envisioned regular, as we believe those functions should be developed following extensive engagements with stakeholders, which OUTA and Water Shortage SA are in the process of undertaking”.

OUTA and Water Shortage SA aim to present its findings to the appropriate institution once all stakeholders have had an opportunity to input.