Establishment of Water Resource Infrastructure Agency set in motion

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) through the Chief Directorate; Water Institutions Management has commenced consultations on the establishment of the National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency (NWRIA).

The consultations for the bill to set up the National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency, which seeks to address issues of water securities and socio-economic growth, and development, took place in Pretoria recently.

The two-day internal sessions attended by DWS Deputy Directors-General, Chief Directors, Provincial Heads, as well as Chief Executive Officers of water entities and water boards, intended to facilitate stakeholders’ participation, raise awareness, capacity building and knowledge sharing to ensure buy-in.

The consultations paved the way forward towards the formation of a state-owned entity.

During the State of the Nation address in 2022, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the establishment of the NWRIA will be accelerated. He announced that legislation has been prepared for the establishment of the agency, and will be published for public comment within a month.

Acting Chief Director for Institutional Oversight at Water and Sanitation, Eustathia Bofilatos, said the entity is envisaged to undertake the building, operation, financing and maintenance of national water resources assets, while the department retains responsibility for planning, regulation, policy and price setting.

Bofilatos said on completion of the consultations, which include engaging labour unions, the draft bill will be submitted to the cluster and published for public comment by April 2022. It will be tabled in Cabinet by May 2022.

“If everything goes according to plan, the final bill will be submitted to Parliament in July 2022 and the NWRIA is anticipated to be passed by January 2023 depending on the Parliament processes. In addition, we expect the board of the new agency and CEO to be appointed by May 2023,” Bofilatos said.

NWRIA Project Manager, James Ndlovu, said the agency will provide raw water, and its focus will be on the under-served, and the poor to ensure a sustainable, equitable and reliable supply of water from national water resources infrastructure.

“A lot more investments in water infrastructure projects is required to guarantee water security in the country, this agency will foster private partnerships to make certain that challenges related to water and sanitation are addressed,” Ndlovu said.

Ndlovu also indicated that NWRIA would be enabled to perform its functions by means of transferring the national water resources assets to it, as well as the staff of the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA), the Water Trading Entities (WTE) and the Infrastructure Branch of the department.

The department reiterated that the establishment of the agency will be inclusive of the existing skills in the sector and will create additional capacity.

“It is envisaged that this will not results in any job losses,” the department said