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South African Local Government Association (SALGA) president Cllr. Thembi Nkadimeng on the occasion of the virtual launch of the Water Technology and Innovation (WTIF)





Posted: 30 September 2020

The newly established Water Technology and Innovation (WTIF) will function as an invaluable idea sharing platform for how technological innovation can solve today’s and future challenges of clean drinking water and improved sanitation services delivery.

This was the sentiment of SALGA president Cllr. Thembi Nkadimeng on Monday, 28 September 2020, during the virtual launch of the Water Technology and Innovation Forum.
The forum is a partnership between SALGA and the Water Research Commission (WRC) and aims to provide a collaborative platform for municipal partners to share their innovation needs, mobilise partnerships to jointly conceptualise programmes, projects and funding towards matters related to safe water and sanitation.

“Through these platforms were re-imaging the delivery of water and sanitation to our communities. We are creating a different paradigm shift in our approach to water management. We acknowledge that the World is moving into a fourth industrial revolution and such requires all of us to adapt or become irrelevant hence these platforms anchored by Science, Research, Technology and People together under one roof,” Cllr. Nkadimeng said.

The two-day forum, which concluded on Tuesday 29 September 2020, brought together technology and water thought leaders from the three spheres of government, research institutions and state entities, who shared their insights on the management of water and sanitation services through technology. 

Cllr. Nkadimeng made reference to a WRC study titled, Misguided Technology Choices Throwing Fat in Municipal Fire, which painted a worrying picture on the role of local authorities in the wastewater treatment sector.

“Research undertaken by the Water Research Commission in collaboration with SALGA paints a worrying picture in relation to application of appropriate technology at municipal level.

“The findings of the report indicate that there is no shortage of technological solutions. However, there are major challenges in the application of such in municipalities. To this end relevance and cost effectiveness of our technology choices are a key feature and integral part of this initiative we are launching today,” said Cllr. Nkadimeng

The study assessed 18 wastewater treatment plants and found that 8 of them (44%) may have opted for less suitable technologies when considering their resource base, capacity to manage and effluent quality requirements.

When applying the 44% statistic to a comparative national base (consisting of 850 municipal plants) there could be more than 370 wastewater treatment plants in the country where inappropriate technologies have been implemented

However, Cllr. Nkadimeng expressed confidence in the newly established forum and its ability to find water-tight solutions to these challenges “Further that it seeks to safeguard the interests of the water sector and municipalities through creating an enabling environment for municipalities to seek technical guidance before employing technological solutions, secondly to select proven and vetted technology by water sector experts,” she said.

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said that the WTIF would do well in paving the way towards the roll-out of the new District Development Model (DDM), an operational model for improving cooperative governance aimed at building a capable, ethical developmental state.

“We believe that the establishment of this forum will contribute to the implementation of the district development model, which seeks to strengthen local government by utilising the districts as a landing strip for all the spheres of government,” said Dr Dlamini-Zuma.

“Through the DDM, we'll also see the acceleration of technology and innovation initiatives.”
Chief Executive of the WRC, Mr Dhesigen Naidoo said of the ambitious forum: “The local government water and technology innovation forum, conceived as a partnership between the Water Research Commission and SALGA, is a critical intervention. This partnership led forum seeks to set up and expand a network of test beds for ground breaking water and sanitation technologies emanating from South African laboratories.” 

Naidoo added that the endpoint of the forum would ensure that South African citizens receive improved water supply and sanitation.

“We want South African districts, villages and towns to be among the leaders in sustainable water and sanitation solutions in the world. We want our citizens to be the beneficiaries of the best water supply, the best water treatment and state of the art sanitation,” he said.

Department of Water and Sanitation ministerial advisory committee chairperson Jurgen Kogl, who addressed the virtual launch on behalf of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, proposed that the forum should provide regular feedback on progress review reports. "We propose that the forum provide quarterly or twice-yearly presentations to all stakeholders on what work has been done and what projects can be implemented in a financially sustainable manner,” he said

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