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The pollution of South Africa's water resources affects both human and environmental health and has severe consequences for the country's water security, economy, social well-being and its ability to adapt to climate change. As the custodian of water resources in South Africa the Department has the responsibility to provide water that is fit-for-use and which ensures the preservation of ecosystem health and functioning.

In recent years various studies have highlighted a number of challenges with regard to deteriorating water qualities in various water resources, both on surface and underground. Reports of pollution incidences and concerns raised by land-owners, communities, businesses, conservationists and water treatment utilities have also become more prominent in the media.

In response to the country's need to take an improved integrated approach to Water Quality Management (WQM), the Department has initiated a project to revise its current WQM Policies and Strategies. This includes the 1991 WQM Policy and Strategy and the 2006 Resource Directed Management of Water Quality Policy and Strategy, amongst others.

The goal of the project is to-
develop a WQM Policy and IWQM Strategy which provides the necessary guidance to Government, as well as the larger water sector, for the effective, sustainable and integrated management of South Africa’s surface and ground water quality.

There will be three main outcomes of the project namely a WQM Policy, an IWQM Strategy and the establishment of various implementation measures aimed at converting policy into practice. It should be noted that the integration of the WQM Policy and IWQM Strategy with wider national policies provides the opportunity to align the approaches toward managing water quality with other activities the Department, and in Government as a whole. This will help entrench this project and secure its sustainability going forward.

In order to achieve the above goal, the project has been divided into 5 phases:

Inception Phase: Describes the approach that will be used, the scope of the work that will be undertaken and the project programme.

Assessment Phase: In the assessment phase the current as well as emerging resource water quality, Water Quality Management and integration problems and challenges are identified. Water Sanitation issues as relevant to the project scope must also be taken into consideration. The assessment phase will rely on an analysis of existing information to develop a national perspective that would adequately inform the policy and strategy. This phase consists of the development of a WQM Glossary of terms, an assessment of the current and potential future Water Quality and Water Quality Management challenges in SA and a literature Survey.
The literature survey consisted of:

  • a survey of the current WQM policies and strategies in SA and the International examples of WQM that SA could learn lessons from,
  • a Survey on the WQM instruments that exist in SA (guidelines and tools), and
  • a Survey of the current institutional arrangements for WQM in SA.

Policy Formulation Phase. The Policy must be both Practicable and progressive. It should aim to formalize Government and larger water sectors intentions with regards to Water Quality Management in SA. i.e. It must stipulate the principles that should be used to inform the way in which decisions are made when undertaking any activity that may affect the water quality of our surface watercourses, estuaries and groundwater.

Strategy Development Phase: The Strategy will need to give effect to the Policy. It will look at the current root causes of the water quality issues the Country is experiencing and will provide clear direction in terms of the actions required to improve and integrate our approaches to Water Quality Management.

Converting Policy into Practice Phase: It is intended that this will not just be a Policy and Strategy that sits on the shelf but that it will lead to actual changes on the ground. The aim is therefore to develop policy, strategy and implementation actions that, whilst being progressive (in our continued endeavor to secure water that is fit for use), are also pragmatic and implementable. In order to implement the Strategy, participation from the larger water sector will be essential and as such the outcomes of the project will not only be relevant to the Department, but also to the water sector.

The 5 phases of the project as shown in the diagram below:

The approach that will be used will be to produce first editions of the Policy and Strategy based on a gaps analysis on existing information and inputs from various experts (i.e. based on the findings from the assessment phase of the project). The first editions will then be discussed with key stakeholders both within and external to the Department, following which the second and final edition will be produced. This will allow early identification of some of the priority issues to be addressed whist the revision is taking place.

Stakeholder participation is a key component of the project and there will be opportunities for key stakeholders and the public to participate and to provide their comments on aspects relating to WQM that should be considered in the development of the Policy and Strategy. This forms the roll-out of the project and is detailed further here

The project, which was initiated in the beginning of October 2015 will take 24 months to complete (i.e. will be completed by the end of September 2017).

The table below provides a list of the documents that will be produced as part of this project. The documents have been split into four, colour-coded, series

  1. Project Reports/Supporting Documents
  2. Policy Reports
  3. Strategy Reports
  4. Policy into Practice Reports

It should be noted that the final approved products will be made available on the website as the project progresses.

1.1 Inception Report P RSA 000/00/21715/1
1.2 Literature Review
1.2.1 A Review of the Water Quality Management Policies and Strategies for South Africa P RSA 000/00/21715/2
1.2.2 A Review of the Water Quality Management Institutional Arrangements for South Africa P RSA 000/00/21715/3
1.2.3 A Review of the Water Quality Management Instruments for South Africa P RSA 000/00/21715/4
1.3 Water Quality and Water Quality Management Challenges for South Africa P RSA 000/00/21715/5
1.4 Water Quality Glossary P RSA 000/00/21715/6
1.5 Stakeholder Consultation and Communication Strategy P RSA 000/00/21715/7
1.6 Stakeholder Consultation and Communication Audit Report P RSA 000/00/21715/8
2.1 Water Quality Management Policy - Edition 1 P RSA 000/00/21715/12
2.2 Water Quality Management Policy - Edition 2 P RSA 000/00/21715/13
2.3 Summary of Water Quality Management Policy P RSA 000/00/21715/14
3.1 Integrated Water Quality Management Strategy - Edition 1 P RSA 000/00/21715/15
3.2 Integrated Water Quality Management Strategy - Edition 2 P RSA 000/00/21715/16
3.3 Summary of Integrated Water Quality Management Strategy P RSA 000/00/21715/17
4.1 Implementation Plan - Edition 1 P RSA 000/00/21715/18
4.2 Implementation Plan - Edition 2 P RSA 000/00/21715/19
4.3 Monitoring and Evaluation Framework - Edition 1 P RSA 000/00/21715/20

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