Water Research Commission projects lauded

The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation says it is impressed by the research projects that have been undertaken by the Water Research Commission (WRC).

The research projects are aimed at providing innovative interventions to the challenges within the water sector in the country.

The committee says the 33 manuals and guidelines produced by the WRC must play a critical role in ensuring sustainable invention of solutions to challenges faced by the sector.

The committee is impressed by the work the WRC continues to do and more so by the diligence management has shown in relations to the spending of resources. An unqualified audit opinion is always a welcomed occurrence, and the speed with which the entity has implemented corrective measures to deal and recover fruitless and wasteful expenditure must serve as an example for other state entities, said Chairperson of the Committee, Mlungisi Johnson.

Despite this, the committee is concerned that the innovations do not translate into large scale interventions that impacts the lives of the people.

The committee said programmes such as the handbook for management of school sanitation, the new protocol to monitor ecological reserve, protocol on enhanced food production and many others are essential innovations that must be replicated and rolled out on a larger scale to address many water sector challenges.

These research projects have a potential of alleviating social-economic challenges that the country is facing, said Johnson.

The Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency was lauded by the committee for its unqualified audit opinion despite the capacity constraints within the Supply Chain Management section.

However, the committee has urged the agency to strengthen this unit as it plays a central role in ensuring adherence to governance procedures within the entity.

The committee also lauded the agency for the support given to Resource Poor Farmers in relations to technical assistance on water use, as well as application for government subsidies.

It also welcomed the activation of first financial provisions made under the National Water Act that will ensure the establishment of a fund to address water related impacts associated with mines when they are liquidated or are bankrupt, as well as the collaboration with the South African Police Service to address environmental crimes within the water management area especially illegal sand mining.

Despite the good work done by both the Catchment Management Agencies the Committee is concerned by the late transfer of grants to the agencies by the Department of Water and Sanitation.

Meanwhile, the Committee welcomes the great work that the board and senior management of the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority continue to do in financing and implementing bulk raw water infrastructure in the country.

While the committee is cognisant of the pressures presented by South Africa's credit downgrade it is impressed that the entity continues to finance and implement projects within an acceptable risk framework and the most cost effective way.

Source: South African Government News Agency