Blue Drop (drinking water) and Green Drop (wastewater) certifications are key measures of the quality and safety of water provided by municipalities and their service providers.  This can be particularly important in areas where the economy depends heavily on tourism.


Planning for water safety and wastewater risk abatement is essential for the sustainable and reliable provision of services. 


A project was initiated in April 2014 to assist in the assessment of current practices at selected municipalities, and to provide guidance and technical support where required.  The project also assisted in the development of new risk management processes for both water and wastewater in district municipalities, and of capacity among municipal officials.


The Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were the target provinces for the first roll-out of the project.  The project started with a review of risk management practices for both water and wastewater in each of the 12 district municipalities identified, to see where they were most vulnerable.  Aspects such as the planning team, system assessment, hazard and risk assessment, corrective actions, and monitoring and evaluation were considered.


Water safety plan scores ranged from a low of 37,75% in Alfred Nzo District Municipality, to 86,69% in Ugu District Municipality.  Wastewater risk abatement plans saw even lower average scores, with the lowest score (11%) found in Uthungulu District Municipality.  In contrast, Amathole District Municipality in the Eastern Cape had a 100% average wastewater risk abatement plan score.  From this initial assessment, it was evident that some municipalities needed more support than others.


It was found that most district municipalities had challenges with monitoring and evaluation, documentation and communication procedures, management and support programmes, and plan reviews.  While municipalities were aware of risks, they had difficulty in working out action plans to mitigate them.  Workshops were conducted to help them do so. In addition, new safety plans were crafted at selected municipalities, and technical support and skills transfer was emphasised. 


Finally, a qualitative assessment of the new plans was completed.  The project team also carried out a sample survey at the close out of the project in December 2016, to establish the impact of the risk management support, the understanding of risk management processes, and where support was still required.


Water safety planning and wastewater risk abatement plan video


Implementing agent


Water Research Commission

012 761 9300