12 February 2003
Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Ronnie Kasrils has invited the public to comment on the Draft Water Services White Paper, which aims to improve water and sanitation supply in the country.
Kasrils said the government is working to improve people’s water and sanitation services, and is concerned that most people are not aware of their rights and responsibilities, as well as the rights and obligations of their municipalities.
Government’s policy is that:
- Everyone is entitled to a basic supply of 25 litres of clean water per day, or 6 000 litres per household per month – although some municipalities are not yet able to supply this.
- No one should be without a water supply for more than seven full days in any year. If a public supply is interrupted for more than 24 hours, the municipality should inform residents and make arrangements for emergency supplies.
- People who cannot afford to pay for water are still entitled to a free basic water supply, even in cases where people are unable to pay their water bills.
- It is a criminal offence to connect to a public water supply without municipality permission, since this could harm other water users.
- People who are unable to pay their water bill should make arrangements with their municipality. Even if people do not receive an account, they are still responsible for ensuring payment.
- Municipalities may restrict people to the free basic amount, but may not withhold this basic supply. However, people who interfere with the water restrictor system may face total water cut-off, as they may harm other people in their community.
- Municipalities must inform people before they discontinued their services, and must also have a consumer service where people can lodge complaints.
According to Kasrils, the Draft Water Services White Paper seeks to address these and other concerns. The Draft Paper is available online (in .pdf format), or from Innocent Ndlovu at (012) 336-6555.
The deadline for comments has been extended to 28 February 2003. Comments and further inquiries should be addressed to Thuli Khambule, and can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to (012) 323-3877. Khambule can also be contacted by telephone at (012) 336-6527.