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Western Cape municipalities are making progress with safe drinking water according to latest Blue Drop Report

By Larry Claasen

The Western Cape municipalities and entities received a total of 15 Blue Drop Certifications in the 2023 Blue Drop Report as published by the National Department of Water and Sanitation.

The Blue Drop report, published by the Department of Water and Sanitation, is a comprehensive assessment of the state of all 958 water supply systems (WSS) in each of the 144 water services authorities (WSA) in the country.

The report evaluates water supply systems according to its design capacity, operational capacity, water quality, technical skills, and water safety plan.

The goal of the Blue Drop Certification programme is to induce changes in behaviour of individuals and institutions to facilitate continuous improvement and adoption of best practice management of the delivery and distribution networks from abstraction to the water treatment works to the points of use.

Anton Bredell, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, congratulated the provincial entities for their good performance.

“In the previous Report from 2014, we received eight Blue Drop Certifications, so we have made progress, and I want to thank and recognise the entities that worked hard to maintain their status and also those that improved on this very important service delivery metric,” Bredell said.

The Blue Drop Certifications were awarded to water supply systems in:

  • Berg Rivier Municipality
  • City of Cape Town Metro
  • Drakenstein Municipality
  • George Municipality
  • Overstrand Municipality (Baardskeerdersbos, Buffeljags Bay, Buffelsrivier, Greater Gansbaai, Greater Hermanus, Kleinmond, Pearly Beach, and Stanford)
  • Saldanha Bay Municipality
  • Swartland Municipality
  • Theewaterskloof Municipality

Minster Bredell said that challenges identified in the Report also need to be recognised and addressed.

  • It was, however, not all good news as according to the report, eight water supply systems in the Western Cape are in critical condition:
  • Beaufort West Municipality (Murrysburg and Nelspoort)
  • Hessequa Municipality (Jongensfontein)
  • Kannaland Municipality (Ladismith, Van Wyksdorp, and Zoar)
  • Prins Albert Municipality (Klaarstroom, Prince Albert)

What led to the water systems being in critical condition was being looked at.

“The Department of Local Government is investigating the root causes for these failures in the various water supply systems. We will provide support ranging from training of process controllers, support with infrastructure funding applications, and technical assistance as needed,” Bredell said.

A water supply system that achieves equal to or above a Blue Drop score of 95% is regarded as excellent and is then awarded the prestigious Blue Drop Certification status. A system that achieves less than 31% is regarded as dysfunctional and would trigger appropriate regulatory interventions.

The scorecard was designed to consider evidence against five key performance areas:

  • 1: Capacity Management;
  • 2: Drinking Water Quality Risk Management;
  • 3: Financial Management;
  • 4: Technical Management; and
  • 5: Drinking Water Quality Compliance.

Each performance area and its respective sub-criteria carry different weights based on national regulatory priorities. The audit period under review was July 1 2021, to June 30 2022, resulting in a Blue Drop score issued in 2023.

The Western Cape has 25 Water Service Authorities, with 124 water supply systems, treating on average 1 162 422 kilolitres per day. The province has an available capacity of 2 163 000 kilolitres per day, according to the Report.

Bredell said that the Blue Drop Report augments and supports work done by the province with its 15-Year Western Cape Integrated Drought and Water Response Plan, which analysed all municipal water infrastructure and available water sources in the province.

The Water Plan provides tools for municipalities to project their future water needs against different population growth and economic growth scenarios.

The Western Cape may have performed well, but the country as a whole has gone backwards.

“The overall performance trend indicates a regression from 2014 to 2023,” the report said.

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