Revelations by the Water Research Commission (WRC) that almost 40% of total municipal water in SA is lost before it reaches municipal customers points to a major crisis with water infrastructure in South Africa.
This has been particularly evident in the North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State where the Department of Water Affairs has had to dispatch its rapid response unit to assist with water shortages.
At the heart of the problem is the failure of municipalities to properly maintain their water infrastructure, due to poor management, a lack of will and in many instances not enough funding.
While the Department of Water Affairs is working hard to address this issue, there is still a considerable R338 billion funding gap.
This is not a problem which the Department of Water Affairs should be expected to address alone. It is a chronic problem which must be handled in a comprehensive manner by all departments and entities concerned.
The DA will therefore request that a special parliamentary inquiry is established to look into creating a detailed plan to effectively address this problem.
This inquiry must consist of members from the portfolio committees of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Finance and Public Works so that an integrated and multi-pronged approach across departments can be facilitated.
The failure to act on this backlog on infrastructure will hurt poor and vulnerable South Africans the hardest. Water is South Africa's most precious commodity and no more time can be wasted in finding a solution.
Marti Wenger, Shadow Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs