Municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal are spending close to R1 billion each year to keep the water network charged during load shedding hours, according to a report by the South African Local Government Association (Salga).
The report looked at the effect load shedding had on municipal finances.
There are two players in the water service delivery sphere, namely the district municipalities like eThekwini, uMgungundlovu and Ugu, and water service authorities (WSA’S) like uMgeni Water and uThukela Water.
The WSA’s are state-owned authorities.
Both the municipalities and WSA’s rely on wastewater treatment works (WWTW) to process raw bulk water into potable water for residents, who are the customers in this supply chain labelled as “taxpayers’.
These facilities rely on electricity which is where the problem starts during load shedding.
KZN municipalities are spending close to half a billion rand on the procurement of generators and another half a billion rand to fuel them during load shedding.
Damage and vandalism at these wastewater treatment facilities are also costing the government millions.
“From the 75 WSA (out of 144), the local government is spending at least R443,640,000 to fix WWTWs facilities that have been damaged and vandalised during load shedding.
“Municipalities are spending at least R480,287,756 on procurement of back-up gensets and R482,517,300 per annum on fuel for generators during load shedding.
“Thus, the cost for fixing the damaged WWTW and water purification facilities, procurement of back-up generators and diesel is R1,406,445 056 across the 75 WSAs.
“The estimated cost across all WSAs for fixing damaged WWTW and water purification facilities, procurement of back-up generators and diesel is R3.5 billion,” Salga said.
Last month, Salga hosted their annual meeting, where KZN municipal leaders gathered to discuss some of the challenges around service delivery in their regions, mainly relating to water and sanitation and electricity.
It would be difficult to say that the conference itself was productive, given the fact that each municipality had 15 minutes to present.
Later this week, Salga will host another conference, this time to tackle the energy crisis in the province and “explore mitigating strategies and plans to end load shedding”.
“Salga conducted the impact of load shedding survey early this year and found that municipalities are incurring huge losses on unserved energy, massive damage and vandalism to municipal infrastructure that cost billions of rand,” the organisation said.
The rate of load shedding in the country has decreased over the past few months, and reports from the Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa show some light at the end of the tunnel.
Developments in the renewable energy sector have also taken some pressure off the government to get its act together at Eskom.
Ramokgopa said the private sector has shown an insatiable appetite to enter the market.
Ramokgopa told Parliament last week that R390 billion in investment is needed to expand the energy network by about 14,000km over the next decade.
“It is estimated that more than R390 billion will be required over the next decade to meet the demand for grid capacity, largely due to the increase in generation capacity through renewable energy projects following the various bid windows,” said Ramokgopa.