Water & Sanitation

Water Services Act (Act no. 108 of 1997) and National Water Act (Act no. 36 of 1998) provide the legislative framework within which water and sanitation services are to be conducted. Water Services Act legislates the municipal function of providing water supply and sanitation services. It provide institutional arrangement for water services provision.
National Water Act legislates the way water resource (surface and underground) is protected, developed, used, conserved, managed and controlled. The mandate of Water Services Act is derived from Section 27 of the Constitutional Bill of Rights, which indicates that everyone has the right to have access to sufficient food and water. National Water Act is derived from a constitutional Bill of Rights which says; everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being.
EMalahleni Local Municipality (ELM) is a Water Service Provider (WSP) according to Water Services Act number 108 of 1997 and appointed as Water Services Authority (WSA) by provincial Department of Water and Sanitation (DWAS). The function of WSP is to provide water services to the local municipality that is sustainable, efficient, good quality, and support local economic growth.

WSA is responsible for the following:
  • Ensure access to efficient, affordable, economical and sustainable access to water services to all consumers.
  • Prepare water services development plan
  • Makes bylaws
  • Decide on mechanisms for water services provision.

ELM is a water stressed mining town and has a challenge of an ever-growing water demand. The Olifants River is the main source of surface water supply to the municipality, supplying more 70% of municipal water provision capacity. ELM is located along the Upper Olifants River catchment and it has a catchment of approximately 3540km2. The catchment land-use activities is inundated with coal mining, energy generation and agricultural land-use activities which have adverse effects on the deterioration of resource water quality. The municipality has been unable to exploit underground water resources due to underground coal mining which results to generation and decanting of acid mine drainage. Water and Sanitation Department manages provision of water and sanitation services from raw water retaining structures (municipal dams), bulk raw water

abstraction, potable water treatment, potable water and distribution reservoirs, water reticulation system, water meters, sewer reticulation and waste water treatment plant.

ELM has three municipal water supply schemes (Witbank, Rietspruit and Ga-Nala) and three external (Anglo, Glencore and Eskom Kendal) responsible for bulk water provision. The municipal also has a modular package plant which is used to augment Witbank scheme.

The municipal water supply schemes can be summarised as per the table below:


Scheme name

Design/ Required capacity (Ml/d)

Operational Capacity (Ml/d)


Witbank dam
Over capacity
Rietspruit Dam
Being upgraded to 4Ml/d
Usuthu Scheme (DWS)
Below design capacity
Package Plant (NuWater)
Witbank Dam
To be upgraded to 20Ml/d
Package Plant (NuWater)
Mine water reclamation
To be upgraded to 28Ml/d
Usuthu scheme (DWS)
To be terminated upon commissioning of Glencore scheme
Mine water reclaimation
Operating within capacity
Witbank Water Purification Works is a Class B plant and it gets water from Witbank Dam. It has a design capacity of 75Ml/d and it is currently operating at approximately 80 to 90Ml/d. The plant is a conventional design which is mainly aimed at eliminating suspended solids and has limited efficiency on the removal of dissolved solids.
Ga-Nala Water Purification is a Class C plant and it gets water from Usuthu water supply scheme (DWS scheme). It has a design capacity of 15Ml/d and it is currently operating at approximately 6.7Ml/d. The plant is a conventional design and it is mainly designed to handle suspended solids of fairly good raw water quality.
Reitspruit Water Purification works is a Class C plant and it gets water from Rietspruit Dam. It has a design capacity of 4Ml/d and it is currently operating at 3.5Ml/d. The plant is a conventional package plant design and it is mainly designed to handle suspended solids of fairly good raw water quality. ELM also is responsible for the provision of waste water and sanitation services to all customers in the municipality. The Municipality operate with eight (8) Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW).