Rand Water’s suggested water tariff increase for 2020/21 have been rejected by portfolio committees, raising concerns of its “future sustainability”.
In a statement released by the water utility, it explained that the proposed 6.6% increase presented by the department of water and sanitation and the South African Local Government Association was rejected by both the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, and the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
“Whilst mindful of the Committee concerns, Rand Water would like to emphasise that after adherence to all applicable legislation and after an extensive consultation process, its proposed tariff increase of 6.6% has the support of its municipal customers and stakeholders,” the statement read.
Rand Water media relations manager Justice Mohale expressed concern of the financial sustainability of the utility in light of suggested tariff increases, explaining that Rand Water needs funds to continue providing clean, drinkable water to citizens.
“Our infrastructure needs to be replaced at some point, and maintaining infrastructure is very expensive. We also use chemicals to make sure the water is purified in line with standards. All factors revolve around having sufficient financial resources,” Mohale told The Citizen.
He said we could not allow a situation where water standards were compromised because of a lack of financial resources.
Mohale added that plans were in place to “replace old or decaying infrastructure”, and said that infrastructure management was conducted almost daily.
Keeping to planned infrastructure maintenance and upgrades is essential to providing clean water to Gauteng, and parts of Mpumalanga, the Free State and North West.
Although Mohale said he hoped common ground could be found in ongoing negotiations, Rand Water was worried that the rejected tariff increase could negatively impact the utility.
“The utility will now have to reprioritise its planned projects on the short and medium terms. This will in turn also have an impact on all the municipalities services by Rand Water. It will also curtail Rand Water’s ability to finance necessary future bulk water infrastructure maintenance programmes, as well as other essential CAPEX projects.”