Critical review of the quality of Water Service Development Plans : a case study of South Africa
Masia, Martha Nthame
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The provision of adequate water supply and sanitation services remains a challenge in both developed and emerging economies. This challenge is fuelled by deteriorating water services emanating from insufficient and aging infrastructure, pollution of water sources and deteriorating water quality, lack of financial resources, lack of skilled workforce, changing climatic conditions and droughts. In an attempt to reduce the gap between water demand and water supply in South Africa, initiatives such as water conservation and water demand management have been adopted, but their success have been shrouded by a lack of planning, resources and law enforcement. For this reason, the gap between water demand and supply continues to widen across the country. To address the water resources related concerns such as planning, managing, coordinating water resources, and water demand across the country, municipalities are required to develop Water Service Development Plans (WSDPs). Sections 12 and 13 of the Water Services Act (No. 108 of 1997) require municipalities to develop a draft WSDP for their areas of jurisdiction and a summary of that plan. A WSDP is a living and strategic document, and a primary instrument that aids municipalities in water service planning. The WSDP provides an overarching framework for water service provision, water demand management, wastewater treatment, and provides information on the gaps and challenges encountered in water service delivery. Additionally, municipalities are required to develop the WSDP as part of their Integrated Development Plan (IDP), a requirement of the Municipal Systems Act (No. 32 of 2000) to guide municipalities on sustainable use of water resources. WSDPs are critical in the water service sector. However, a knowledge gaps exists on the quality of such plans and the extent to which WSDPs facilitate sustainable water service delivery. This knowledge gap forms the impetus for the study and the aim of the study is to critically review the quality of WSDPs of selected metropolitan municipalities in South Africa. For this purpose, the research objectives are to develop criteria that can be used to evaluate the quality of WSDP of municipalities in South Africa, and to apply the developed criteria to selected WSDPs. A Review Package designed from three sources, namely, Water Services Act (No. 108 of 1997), National Water Act (No. 36 of 1998) and the IDP Guidelines Analysis Framework developed by Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) extracted from Module 1 of 2015 form part of the criteria. The criteria is integrated with the Lee and Colley Review Package to review WSDPs obtained from the websites of eight selected metropolitan municipalities. The results from the review of WSDPs reveals that the overall quality of the selected WSDPs are satisfactory, with certain areas needing to be addressed to ensure ongoing quality of the WSDPs. The study recommends municipalities to diligently adhere to the legal requirements and guidance provided, develop funding mechanisms to reduce overreliance on loans and address the identified shortcomings in the planning for sanitation services.