Blue Drop statement by the actine CE
Umgeni Water-WSA partnerships scoop 9 Blue Drop Awards
11th May 2012

There is simply no stopping the team of Umgeni Water from forging ahead with achieving our organisation’s objective of providing the finest quality drinking water to the people of KwaZulu-Natal. On Monday this week, Umgeni Water and all six of its customers became the proud recipients of 9 Blue Drop Awards in the 2012 assessments done by the Department of Water Affairs. Just a year ago, teams from the Engineering and Scientific Services and the Operations divisions took on a challenge that the eThekwini Metro-Umgeni Water partnership would appear in the Top 10 of the 2012 Blue Drop award recipients and – guess what – we achieved it! On behalf of the Board and my colleagues in the Executive Committee, thank you teams E&SS and Ops – the awards received for the 9 systems in the 2012 assessment are both a tribute and an acknowledgement of your dedication and hard work. You have made all of us proud to be associated with Umgeni Water.

For the record, the Blue Drop Certification Programme is an incentive-based regulatory tool used by the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) to acknowledge excellence in drinking water quality management in South Africa. The Blue Drop Certification is both a rigorous and stringent process that measures drinking water quality management performance of Water Services Authorities and their Water Services Providers against predefined minimum requirements based on legal requirements and international best practice. Five performance areas are evaluated, namely Water Safety; Treatment Process Management; Drinking Water Quality Compliance; Management Accountability, and Asset Management. An overall score of 95% is required in order to receive a Blue Drop award. Umgeni Water and its partners exceeded the score of 95% in 9 systems which suggest, from a water quality and systems management perspective, performance had exceeded minimum requirements for certification, and that the public can be safe in the knowledge they are receiving excellent water quality.

The 9 systems that obtained Blue Drop certification were:

  1. eThekwini Main (Midmar, DV Harris, Durban Heights, Wiggins, Maphephetwa, Amanzimtoti and Hazelmere WW), in partnership with eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality
  2. Msunduzi (Midmar and DV Harris WW), in partnership with Msunduzi Local Municipality
  3. Ixopo (Ixopo WW), in partnership with Sisonke District Municipality
  4. Mathulini, Mthwalume and Qoloqolo (Mthwalume WW), in partnership with Ugu District Municipality
  5. Umzinto and Pennington to Scottburgh (Umzinto WW), in partnership with Ugu District Municipality
  6. Howick, Camperdown and Mshwati (Midmar and DV Harris WW), in partnership with uMgungundlovu District Municipality
  7. Dolphin Coast (Hazelmere WW), in partnership with iLembe District Municipality
  8. Groutville (Hazelmere WW), in partnership with iLembe District Municipality
  9. Ndwedwe (Hazelmere WW), in partnership with iLembe District Municipality

Some of the significant achievements that emerged from the 2012 assessments were:

  1. Overall 4th place in South Africa went to the Umgeni Water-eThekwini Main System
  2. Blue Drop certification was achieved by each Water Services Authority to which Umgeni Water supplies bulk water
  3. Hazelmere Water Works achieved the award for the Best Medium-Sized Waterworks in South Africa

Put in context, the performance of Umgeni Water and its partner WSAs represents a significant improvement over the previous assessment period (2011) when four awards were made and in the period before that (2010) when just one had been made. I want to believe, in the face of the number of awards made over the past three years, that we are now on an upward trend. I am convinced that our teams at E&SS and Ops will make us proud again next year.

It is worth reflecting on some of the comments made by the judges:

eThekwini MM (98.79%): “The Department wishes to congratulate the municipality and, in particular Umgeni Water, on their performance and justifiable place in the National Top 10 Blue Drop performers.”

Msunduzi LM (95.38%): “Msunduzi Local Municipality and Umgeni Water worked well to maintain Blue Drop status for a second year. The panel of inspectors was impressed with the level of preparedness shown by both the municipality and the water board.”

Sisonke DM (95.13%): “Sisonke District Municipality provided DWA with sufficient reason to believe that the municipality is striving towards drinking water quality management improvement. While the performance in some systems still requires considerable attention, the municipality should be encouraged by the Blue Drop status awarded to the Ixopo water supply system.”

Ugu DM (95.22% and 96.27% for two systems): “In spite of the Blue Drop criteria becoming increasing implementation-focused, Ugu District Municipality once again submitted evidence in support of outstanding performance equivalent to Blue Drop status in 3 supply systems. Special mention has to be made that the performance of Umgeni Water, directly responsible for treatment in two of the systems, contributed significantly to the ability of the WSA to maintain Blue Drop status in the respective supply systems.”

uMgungundlovu DM (98.78%): Blue Drop status awarded to the WSA and Umgeni Water for the “Umgeni Supply-Zone”, which accounts for most of the population in the municipality, accounted largely for the improved municipal score. Residents of Howick,

Camperdown and Mshwathi are assured of drinking water quality that meets excellence requirements.

Ilembe DM (98.30%; 95.94% & 96.72% for three systems): The site inspection impression was excellent for the Hazelmere WTW (well operated and maintained WTW with knowledgeable and dedicated staff).

Like with many other things, there are some challenges that we have to address collectively as Umgeni Water in sofar as Blue Drop is concerned. The areas identified as requiring improvement include:

  • Further development of Water Safety Plans together with our Water Services Authority partners;
  • Ensuring stand-by dosing systems and adequate chemical storage onsite;
  • Improvement of operational monitoring at water works;
  • Development and implementation of a strategy for Process Controller registration and training;
  • Development of comprehensive Operational and Maintenance manuals at iLembe schemes;
  • Improved water quality compliance at some of the iLembe schemes.

These challenges are currently being addressed by the Blue Drop Task Team. In addition, this task team has also commenced with implementation of quarterly Blue Drop audits of Umgeni Water waterworks and quarterly water quality liaison meetings with our Water Services Authority partners. These liaison meetings focus on water quality safety planning and risk management and capacity-building requirements of each Water Services Authority.

For the next Blue Drop assessment period, the following Targets have been set:

  • Maintenance of Blue Drop status for the existing systems;
  • Achievement of Blue Drop status at Mvoti WW;
  • Improvement of Blue Drop scores at other iLembe schemes.

As I conclude this report-back communique, it is important to say thank you again to every employee within the organisation as you all have played a role, whether in the E&SS, Operations, Finance or Corporate Services, for the splendid work done in making it possible for Umgeni Water and its WSA partners to obtain 9 Blue Drop awards. Keep up the good work.