Govt: Water issue not a crisis

The Water Dept. says communities with access to water outweigh those who don’t have water supply.

Trevor Balzer says despite the mammoth response to the water issue it’s not representative of South Africa. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Director General at the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs Trevor Balzer says the water issue in South Africa is not a crisis but a mammoth challenge.

Balzer spoke to Talk@Nine about the Eyewitness News investigation which showed the lack of infrastructure development to deal with providing water to South Africans.

A man stands by a water pipe which many Protea South residents in Soweto use to get their water for their daily living. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

On Monday, Eyewitness News revealed the results of a special water investigation which spanned every province.

Balzer said, "We're trying to deal with the problem and people need to look at the context of what the department has delivered since 1994."

He stressed that despite the mammoth response to the water issue, it's not representative of the country.

"From 1994 to 2013 we have supplied 95.2 percent of the population with water. One of the issues we have to deal with, however, is that in the rural areas and smaller municipalities 48 percent of water infrastructure doesn't work.

"That is due to the municipalities not having engineers, technicians and artisans to deal with the breakdown of the infrastructure. We are also dealing with the legacy of the rundown infrastructure," Balzer argued.

The deputy director general also claimed that communities that have access to water outweigh those who don't have water supply, so it's not a crisis but rather a mammoth task.

"The government has for a three-year period set aside R4.2 billion to deal with water supply in disadvantaged areas."

Meanwhile, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is due to be asked to conduct a comprehensive audit of the state of water delivery and infrastructure in South Africa.

Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa on Monday described the water situation as a "mammoth problem" which is receiving a "mammoth response".

But the Democratic Alliance wants Madonsela to determine exactly what a "mammoth problem" means.