The assessment data from the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Green Drop water quality certification programme suggests that municipal performance in wastewater management has improved steadily and significantly over the last five years since the programme was launched in 2008.
South African municipalities are currently performing better than they did in 2009 and 2011. Compared with fewer than 20% of municipalities in 2009, more than 90% of municipalities in 2013 had design details, drawings and a clear knowledge of their systems, as well as the ability to make informed decisions.
The majority of municipalities by 2013 were measuring various types of flows and were able to show flow-meter calibration certificates to verify the credibility of their flow information.
The programme has also recognised progress in small and rural towns across South Africa, with notable performance improve-ments in the North West municipalities of Tsantsabane and Kgatelopele, which improved by 70% and 75% respectively.
The number of municipalities participating in the Green Drop quality assessments has been increasing steadily since 2009. In 2013, 152 municipalities participated in the Green Drop assessments, which is a 55% increase, compared with the 98 municipalities assessed in 2009.
Similarly, the number of wastewater systems assessed in 2013 has also increased from 444 in 2009 to almost 1 000 wastewater systems, representing a 56% increase over five years.
In this regard, 100% of the municipalities participating in the Green Drop programme have responded positively to the challenge and showed up for audits every year, with more and more municipal systems managing to achieve higher scores each year.
This is despite the stringent nature of the Green Drop certification criteria, which are designed to incrementally become more rigorous, as the programme aims to change behaviour, improve and stretch performance and manage risk more effectively.
Since the Green Drop water quality certification programme was implemented, the department has noticed a significant reduction in the national average cumulative risk ratio.
The risk-based approach, through the Wastewater Risk Abatement Plan (WWRAP) guidelines, has played a significant role in enabling municipalities to identify their critical risks, plan in advance and motivate successfully for budgets and other resources for Council to address the identified risks.
Continuous risk control translates into lower-risk scores, improved effluent quality and improved wastewater management in South Africa.
Currently, 77% of all wastewater systems have developed site- specific WWRAP guidelines, which are now in the implementation phase. These systems will all lead to an overall improvement in wastewater management.