FS municipal water debt in spotlight

The state of Free State municipalities and their financial woes are amongst those expected to come in the spotlight today.

This, as the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, is expected to brief the media on her department’s urgent measures to address water challenges across the country. Sisulu’s briefing comes a week after her department confirmed decreasing dam levels.

Her department is amongst those highly affected by the non-payment of services by water boards. Free State municipalities alone are nearly R4 billion indebted to their water boards.

Provincial Finance MEC, Gadija Brown, has recently confirmed in the Provincial Legislature that challenges relating to municipal debts and their outstanding bills to Eskom and several water boards are amongst key issues that her department is still grappling with.

The Sedibeng Water Board and Bloem Water are amongst the water boards where levels of debt are high. The Sedibeng Water Board, located in Bothaville and serving consumers in three provinces, is alone said to be owed more than R3 billion.

The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation earlier this month heard from the department that the accumulation of municipal debt for water was threatening the sustainability of water boards countrywide.

They told the committee that unpaid bills by consumers meant that municipalities were not paying water boards, which overall affected the department.