uThukela Water AGM: Water deficits no drop in the ocean

uThukela
Water conservation remains of critical importance, given high demand versus lesser supply.

Supply versus demand has painted a scary picture for water in the uThukela district.

Given anticipated growth factors in even the next decade, it was no surprise to have conservation emphasised at the uThukela Water Annual General Meeting for the 2015/2016 financial year.

Water deficits remain a serious problem all should be concerned with.

Chairman of the Board, Dan Naidoo explained the message was certainly to have all residents save water, and called it necessary to look into water recycling options.

“If one kilolitre or 1 000 litres [of water] costs below R10, why should municipalities beg and plead for increases? People gladly pay more per litre for cooldrink which is less scarce.”

In his Chairperson’s Report, Naidoo highlighted difficulties caused by prevailing drought conditions, uncertainty facing the entity and the effects of its limited budget.

He described it simply as having more to do with less.

Naidoo explained the Water Services Authorities (WSA) had cut bulk water budget allocations to below the actual costs of producing bulk water services.

“There was no new infrastructure or upgrades due to no annual capital budget.”

Ageing infrastructure remains high on listed priorities, and Naidoo called for tariffs to be more equitable to overcome this problem.

His appeal was echoed by other shareholders represented at the AGM.

Busani Ndlovu, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) agreed tariffs needed urgent revision, lest all face the consequences.

This was echoed by Mayor, Makhosini Nkosi.

“I agree the tariff should be revised and we will set a date to discuss all relevant issues.”

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Spare water, uThukela Water urges residents

 

 

Moving to water quality, both Naidoo and Acting Managing Director (MD) of uThukela Water, Luiz Cunha expressed pride at local water exceeding all standards and ranking among the best.

In his MD’s report, Cunha called this dedication to water quality.

“It’s been a difficult time and we had to think out of the box to overcome water shortage problems. We had to turn every cent over before spending, to prevent any resource wastage.”

Presenting the Financial Report, uThukela’s Acting CFO, Farida Moola primarily noted a 25 per cent decrease in revenue in the 15/16 period.

This was due to drought impacts and the 30 per cent restrictions.

Shareholder representatives were then given the opportunity to comment, with Ndlovu commenting on the real concern infrastructure collapse created.

Cllr Nkosi said that matter gave him frequent sleepless nights.

“This issue is very old. Provision is below the norm and it is clear on the challenges faced. We gave the community a heads-up but couldn’t give uThukela Water the budget it needs.”

After opening the floor for public questions and response, Peter Hair of the Newcastle Ratepayers Association said admitting the problem went a long way to solving it.

His concern was how long uThukela could maintain its standard without funding.

In his response, Naidoo said there simply was no option but to maintain the standards, but felt stepping up water rates to a normative point was required.

“Despite the challenges, we received an unqualified audit opinion,” he concluded.

  AUTHOR
Bruce Douglas
Journalist

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