Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, together with the Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane, Cllr Cilliers Brink announced that they will work together to fix the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Works in Hammanskraal.The Minister and Mayor indicated that they would hold a further media briefing before the end of this week to provide more detail.
BackgroundThe Hammanskraal community north of Tshwane was devastated recently when an outbreak of cholera occurred in the area, leading to loss of life and some residents being hospitalised. So far, there have been 173 reported cases of cholera and 24 people have lost their lives (23 from Hammanskraal and 1 from Parys in Ngwathe Municipality in Free State). A team of officials from the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), together with the national and provincial Departments of Health, as well as the affected municipalities (the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and the Ngwathe Local Municipality), continue to conduct tests in order to determine the source of the cholera bacteria. To date, the original source of the cholera infection has not been located. However, it is possible that the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal is related to the pollution of water sources in the area from the City’s Rooiwal Waste Water (sewage) Treatment Works, situated upstream of Hammanskraal, which has not been well-maintained for many years, and which has insufficient capacity to deal with the volume of wastewater entering the works. The Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Works is polluting the Apies River which flows into the Leeukraal Dam, from which water is abstracted by the City’s Temba Water Treatment Works. The Temba Water Treatment Works is supposed to clean the raw water abstracted from the dam and treat it so that it is fit for human consumption. However, the water in the dam is so polluted that the Temba Water Treatment Works is not able to treat the water such that it meets the required standards for drinking water. For this reason, the City of Tshwane has warned the residents of Hammanskraal not to drink tap water and is using water tankers to supply them with drinking water. However, tests on the water from the Temba Water Treatment Works indicate that it does not contain cholera bacteria and that it can be used for other purposes such as personal hygiene, dishwashing, and washing of clothes. DWS and the City have estimated the cost of full rehabilitation and upgrade of the Rooiwal wastewater treatment works to be in the region of R4 billion. The project can be implemented in stages, with an emphasis on work to stop or reduce the pollution from Rooiwal in the early stages. The Mayor and the City have indicated that the City does not have the capacity on its own to address the sanitation challenges, nor does it have sufficient funds to address the challenges timeously on its own. In light of the cholera outbreak, it is imperative that the Department and the City form a partnership to repair and upgrade the Rooiwal wastewater treatment works.
Agreement between DWS and the CityThe Minister and Mayor have agreed that:
- DWS and the City will partner together to jointly manage a project to fix the infrastructure problems in Hammanskraal
- Tshwane will contribute a portion of its Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) allocations (yesterday Council approved the allocation of R450 million over the next three municipal financial years)
- The DBSA will be appointed as an independent implementing agent to manage the design and construction work
- DWS and the City will form a joint steering committee to oversee the project.
Implementation PlanDWS, the City and National Treasury have agreed that there is a need to secure funding to fix and upgrade the Rooiwal WWTW. They are working together with the DBSA to develop a financing plan which identifies the optimal financial structuring for the project. Options being considered include sourcing funds from other grants and DBSA loan and bridging finance, amongst others. The project will start in the meantime, using the allocation which has been made from Tshwane’s USDG grant (possibly supplemented by DBSA loan or bridging finance). The process of appointing the DBSA as implementing agent has been initiated, as well as the development of detailed technical plans for the repairs and upgrades, including scoping the project stages and tender specifications for the first stage.