More than R1-billion in wasteful expenditure, and more than R4.9-billion in irregular spending was reflected by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in their annual report tabled at Parliament last week.
The department has also incurred an overdraft of just over a R1-billion.
This financial report has sparked concerns within the City of Cape Town, as the city council worried that the state of the Department’s finances will put bulk water supply augmentation schemes at risk.
Speaking to IOL, Mayco member for Water, Xanthea Limberg, said it is still unclear whether the DWS will have to cut back on the funding for the Cape Town’s water augmentation schemes. “It’s very concerning to understand the scale at which there is poor planning and lack of capacity in the department,” she said. “This places municipalities such as ours at risk with our water augmentation schemes.”
Although Cape Town’s drought crisis has eased up after the rainy season’s bountiful downpours began replenishing dams, city officials have warned that it is not yet out of the woods.
“We hope that National Treasury will intervene to help the department get its house in order. If it’s delayed, it’s far too risky as we don’t have alternatives. So we would need to be made aware in advance so we can get clarity and certainty,” Limberg said.
The water augmentation schemes the DWS has invested in include the building of desalination plants at Monwabisi, Strandfontein and the V&A Waterfront. The department has also drawn up a “Western Cape Water Reconciliation Strategy” aimed at boosting the supply of water from the Berg River to supply municipalities in the catchment area, including Cape Town.
After several delays, the DWS also announced that the Clanwilliam Dam project will recommence. The wall of the dam will be raised to create more water capacity for the farmers and municipalities who make use of it.
The portfolio committee on water is expected to discuss the state of its finances on Thursday to improve its financial management.