The City of Tshwane needs at least R12billion to fix its ageing water infrastructure and deal with the problem of leakages. Picture: Cindy Waxa/ANA
Pretoria - The City of Tshwane needs at least R12billion to fix its ageing water infrastructure and deal with the problem of leakages once and for all.

An additional R6bn was required to deal with the poor electricity infrastructure in the city, MMC for Utility Services Darryl Moss said on Wednesday.

He was addressing the third instalment of the ambassadors luncheon in Centurion, hosted by the Tshwane Economic Development Agency and the Southern African Netherlands Chamber of Commerce.

The theme for this year was “The impact of water challenges on regional development and economic growth”. It was attended by government officials, businesspeople and water experts.

Participants highlighted the role of water in attracting direct foreign investment into regional economies like the metro.

“The capex requirement for the capital city to put its water system where it needs to be - and I am not even looking into the future - is R12bn. If the Development Bank of Southern Africa is willing to give us R12bn because our balance sheet doesn’t allow us to borrow it, I will be the first at your door.”

The city also needed at least R6bn to address its poor electricity infrastructure, he said. “That must be seen against the total capex budget for the city of R4bn. For next year, my department has about R1.5bn to address an R18bn backlog.”

Developments in the city were affected by Rand Water's decision to cap its water supply to metropolitan municipalities in Gauteng for the next 10 years, he said.

“Our short-term issue is predominantly that Rand Water that supplies 70% of our water has capped the supply to the city and all other metros in Gauteng for the next 10 years, until the Lesotho Highland project's next phase comes online.

“While our water supply is curtailed to today’s level, our city is growing by 10000 people a month and we have to cater for them. We also want to go ahead with industrial and commercial development to create jobs. And that puts us very much in a Catch-22 situation if we look at the 10-year period.”

To address the situation, Moss said the city was looking into a number of options, such as reducing its water dependency on Rand Water.

“We have a number of projects, where we will more and more utilise our own water resources to supply the city.”

The city had expanded its water purification plant in Temba and Hammanskraal by doubling its capacity from its resources, Moss said.

“We are looking at augmenting our water purification at Rietvlei and Roodeplaat dams. We really have to look at water conservation and water demands,” he said.

According to him, the city was one of the better metros, with water revenue of about 26% and real water losses of about 18%.

“We are embarking on a number of initiatives, including the one with the Development Bank out in the east of the city, where we are looking at leakage detections and leakage repairs and community education.

"We need residents to understand that water is a scarce resource,” said Moss.

Dhesigen Naidoo, chief executive of the Water Research Commission, said water scarcity was a global issue and not a localised problem.

“The localisation is particularly difficult because the southern Africa region is not only a dry area, but in all of the climate change scenarios that we have looked at, even the most optimistic scenarios are saying that we are going to be even drier.”

Naidoo said South Africa was the third driest country in the world.

That aspect was compounded by the fact that it would experience a large population growth by 2030.

“If we continue to lose water in the way we have been losing water for the past 10 years, and we project into the future to 2025, we will in fact have a deficit in South Africa of 1.1billion cubic metres of water. This is the reality,” he said.

Tshepo Ntsimane, head of metros for intermediate cities and water board at the Development Bank of South Africa, said the government needed to partner with the private sector to address water problems.

“What we do realise is that we need to deal with these problems as a collective, both the government and the public sector.”

The private sector was better placed to assist with expertise and funds to tackle the problem.

Pretoria News