‘The municipality has nothing to redeem itself from,’ says municipal manager
Ndlambe Municipality claims it has been meeting the legislative requirement of mininum standards for basic water supply to Port Alfred residents, in a response to the legal demands of the Port Alfred and Nemato Infrastructure Concerns (Panic) group.
Panic issued an ultimatum to the municipality through Audie Attorneys on August 5, for the municipality to provide adequate water supply or face legal action.
Audie Attorneys cited Section 27 of the Constitution and Sections 3 and 9 of the Water Services Act, saying that “the municipality is in breach of its obligations aforementioned and has, since November 2020, failed to meet even the minimum standard of basic water supply services, leaving a large number of residents without any water since the aforesaid date”.
Since it went online in June, Port Alfred’s new seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) plant has not been able to consistently produce 2ML/day as per the contract with Quality Filtration Systems (QFS).
It was revealed in a project steering committee report that in early August, the plant was not even producing 1ML/day.
In his letter of response to Panic dated August 25 but only made available last week, municipal manager Rolly Dumezweni said: “With due respect everyone has access to a minimum quantity of portable (sic) water of 25 litres per person per day at their households in low lying areas or from water tanks for those households that are in high lying areas.
“There is also an exceptional provision for those that are in high lying areas which allows them to be sold water. It is asserted without any element of arrogance that those individuals who do not use this option deprive themselves of this right as enforced by [the] Water Services Act, section 9 in particular.”
Dumezweni said if additional water tanks were needed, ward councillors have the right to request them to be placed in appropriate areas.
He did not address any of the issues involved with the SWRO plant, other than saying “one needs to understand the terms and conditions in which the RO plant was funded”.
He added: “Lastly, one needs to understand the theory behind the integration of water reclamation plant to equation and the relevance of Sarel Hayward Dam water in this whole equation.”
Dumezweni referred to the impact of the drought since 2018 and said the total depletion of the Sarel Hayward Dam, Port Alfred’s former primary source of water, had affected the RO project.
“All in all the municipality has nothing to redeem itself from, but it seizes all opportunities that avail themselves to mitigate [the] water crisis in Port Alfred and Bathurst area, so as in the whole of Ndlambe area,” he said.
He also said an additional RO plant project was in the pipeline to augment water supply for Port Alfred.
He said he hoped it would not come to litigation.