8 reasons to vote DA for clean running water and decent sanitation

John Steenhuisen says his party can protect communities from a failing DWS


5 October 2021

DA-run municipalities are taking 8 steps to provide a reliable supply of clean running water and decent sanitation to residents and businesses. These are things we are ALREADY doing – not empty promises for the future. Through these 8 steps, we protect communities as best as possible from the failing national Department of Water and Sanitation, whose responsibility it is to ensure bulk water supply.

1. Keeping water loss to a minimum by fixing leaks, responding rapidly to burst pipes, and regularly maintaining and replacing municipal water infrastructure.

When the DA coalition came into government in drought-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay in January 2021, they tripled the rate of water leak repair from 304 per week then to 900 per week now. Between January and August 2021, 17 259 water leaks were repaired. This has helped to keep the taps running.

The water loss percentage in DA-run Drakenstein and Witzenberg municipalities is 17%, less than half the national average of 37%. In contrast, ANC-run Emfuleni Municipality loses 40-50% of its water to leaks, illegal connections and aging infrastructure before it even gets to residents.

Between 2016 and 2019, the DA-led Johannesburg replaced 325km of water and sewer pipes, which reduced water leaks from 29% to 19%.

Before the DA-led council in Tshwane was illegally dissolved and placed under administration by the ANC-run Gauteng Provincial Government, we installed over 600km of new water pipes. Since the DA took back government in November 2020, after winning the court case against the Gauteng Provincial Government, we have repaired over 20 000 water leaks.
City of Cape Town has reduced pipe bursts from 60 per 100km in 2010 to 27 per 100km in 2021, a 55% improvement.

2. Investing in wastewater and sewage treatment infrastructure

Where the DA is in government, we ensure our communities are not exposed to raw sewage and that there is no untreated wastewater contaminating the natural or built environment. We ensure that wastewater treatment works are well-managed and well-maintained, and that they are fully compliant. We invest in plant assets to ensure long-term sustainability of the sewerage system.

SA’s municipal sewerage system is collapsing in most ANC municipalities. The deteriorating state of municipal wastewater and sewage treatment management in SA is one of the largest contributing factors to the numerous pollution problems experienced in most parts of the country, and a major contributor to environmental and human health problems.

3. Connecting more households to water and sewerage networks

Before it was put under illegal administration, the DA-led government in Tshwane connected over 12 000 households to water and sewerage networks.

In the two years that the DA ran Nelson Mandela Bay before it was displaced in a council coup, we reduced the number of bucket toilets by roughly 60%, from about 16 000 to about 6 000.

At 98.8% of households, Cape Town has for years provided the highest level of access to piped water in South Africa (on property or less than 200m away). And 95.5% of households have access to adequate sanitation, with over 33 800 toilets installed in informal settlements in the past eight years. Cape Town is also the first municipality in South Africa to provide a dedicated janitorial service for toilets in informal settlements.

4. Supplying poor households with free basic water and sanitation

40% of households in Cape Town receive basic water and sanitation services free of charge, which is well over double the Gauteng averages of 15.6% for water and 17.6% for sanitation. (Data from StatsSA.)
5. Testing water quality regularly

Where we are in government, we conduct regular testing of water quality, to ensure that municipal water is safe to drink and to prepare food.

The City of Cape Town conducts ongoing water quality sampling at 120 inland points and 99 coastal points in the metro to ensure stringent SANS241 drinking-water quality, publishing comprehensive Inland and Coastal Water Quality reports to promote transparency of results. It achieves “Excellent” compliance status with prescribed national water quality standards.

6. Managing water demand and reducing consumption in water-stressed areas

DA governments are extremely successful at managing water demand using a combination of awareness campaigns, pre-paid water meters and incentives. We use pressure management to reduce water consumption and encourage solutions such as the use of low-flow, waterless or grey water toilet systems. Our interventions to beat Day Zero during the severe 3-year Western Cape drought (2015-2017) are widely considered to be international best practice, so we are well-placed to keep the taps running in other water-stressed parts of South Africa.

7. Augmenting water supply

DA-led Nelson Mandela Bay is sinking groundwater boreholes to add 15 million litres per day by July 2022. They have a plan to ensure that groundwater supplies are used sustainably.

DA-led Hessequa Municipality built the country’s first reverse osmosis solar powered desalination plant in the town of Witsand, with a capacity to produce an average of 140 kilolitres of freshwater per day.
Cape Town’s New Water Programme (NWP) will deliver around 300 million litres per day by 2030 through groundwater abstraction, desalination and water reuse.

8. Clearing invasive alien vegetation from water catchment areas, dams, lakes and rivers.

DA-run Cape Town is targeting a 55 billion litre annual reduction of water losses by ramping up alien vegetation clearing. The City’s R50 million investment in the next two years will be matched by private donations and is set to increase clearing to 9 000 hectares per year from the current 1 250 hectares per year, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.


The DA builds water delivery capability by basing public appointments on merit, the ability to deliver to residents, rather than on considerations of political loyalty and patronage. This, coupled with sound financial management and good governance, as reflected in our consistent delivery of clean audits, makes for local water departments that get things done for residents.

Water crises in municipalities across SA reflect national government failure at its most basic level. Water is essential to life, health and economic activity. The DA can protect your community from national failure because we get the basics right at the local level, the coalface of basic service delivery. For best results, residents need to give us an uninterrupted five years of outright DA administration.

On 1 November, vote DA for reliable clean running water, because the DA gets things done.

Warm regards,

John Steenhuisen