The review of the legal framework for water management and establishment of two legal bodies being, Water Resources Council (WRC), and Water & Energy Regulator (WER) is currently underway and expected to be completed by the end of this year with the drafts before parliament.
Water Utilities Corporation, Infrastructure Director- Gaselemogwe Senai revealed last week at a Water Forum organised by a non-governmental organisation, The Botswana Society.
Senai said the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) and WUC are currently preparing to carry out the new roles of being a water resource manager and water supply authority, respectively.
Senai explained that currently there is a water Apportionment Board which oversees compliance to the Water Act, issues license for water rights for abstraction of ground or surface water and pollution control.
“The other development is the Regulator, which will amongst other things deal with issues of water pricing, various utility standards (water quality compliance, search billing) to safeguard interest of the customers. Currently when we want to increase tariffs we talk to government first, but with this reform the Regulator will preside over it before presenting it to government.” explained Senai.
Another development is the introduction of the water levy, which Senai indicated is meant to underscore that water was valuable and doesn’t belong to an individual but rather the government. He said those who get water from the rivers, boreholes, that is WUC, farmers and others will have to pay a marginal levy. “It is work in progress, I cannot say much on the subject. WUC will be subjected to the same levy because we are also abstracting, we will not be executing or implementing it ourselves. The Council and DWA will be working together on its implementation. I don’t know what will come first, but we are anxious to see what will come out of the levy, we have large volumes that we are extracting to meet the escalating demand of water across the country, so it would be interesting to know how much we have to pay,” he added.
Commenting on the developments, Mokwadi Sekompane, of Green Engineers, a citizen owned player in water conservation, said that the WRC and WER were long overdue.
“We have been waiting for these for some time now; in other countries such developments have been very helpful. The introduction of the levy is a most welcome initiative as well, it will help us realise how valuable water is. However, we hope the charges will not be too much,” he said to Gazette Business.