By Staff Reporter
BLOEMFONTEIN-The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in the Free State says it will work closely with water boards to ensure they are paid on time by municipalities so they can improve their revenue levels and continue delivering quality water.
DWS regional spokesperson Larry Crisp says they want to ensure the water boards, which have battled to receive payments from some municipalities, are paid on time so they can focus on their core function of providing potable water.
“The department has since committed to working closely with its water boards and several municipalities to prevent the further non-payment of services and wasteful expenditure in the current 2021/22 financial year,” he said in a statement.
The announcement follows a stern warning by Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to defaulting municipalities when she delivered her budget vote speech recently.
Sisulu said monies that have been lost through non-payment to water boards by municipalities across the country stood at over R12.6 billion at the end of March.
The minister said her department plans to ensure that water tariffs are cost-reflective, fully implemented and can repay debt.
She said strict credit control measures should be enforced to arrest the increasing debt.
Sisulu said a recent study in South Africa found that about 41 percent of municipalities’ potable water is non-revenue, which means that it is either not being billed or paid for.
Physical losses due to leaks, according to the minister, amount to R9.9 billion.
She said these monies could have been put to better use such as investing in new water and sanitation infrastructure or maintenance.
In the Free State, Mangaung Metro along with Kopanong and Mantsopa local municipalities have struggled to pay their water bills to Bloemwater on time, forcing the water board to implement water reduction measures against them.
The municipalities are said to collectively owe Bloemwater over R1 billion in debt.
Water supply interruptions imposed by Bloemwater have caused major disruptions to residents in the greater Bloemfontein area as well as in Thaba ’Nchu, Botshabelo, Dewetsdorp and Wepener.