Polluters snub conference

2014-07-11 00:00

POLLUTERS of our rivers and dams snubbed the uMgeni System Catchment Management Forum Conference yesterday.

No representations were made by big industrial corporations and commercial farmers responsible for dumping waste into rivers and dams at the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation conference, held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The purpose was to share ideas, experiences and challenges faced by the Catchment Management Forums (CMFs), to monitor the quality of water in uMgeni River, Msunduzi River, Inanda Dam and lower uMgeni.

During their presentations, a gloomy picture of the quality of water was painted by various chairpersons of the CMFs.

Msunduzi River CMF chairperson Rod Bulman described Pietermaritzburg as “a bowl and everything slides down in it”.

“For us to be successful in our work we need to establish a network where every actor in the network is autonomous and takes informed decisions,” he said.

Bulman said the time to ask for what government can do to help change the situation is gone. “We need to adopt a see-judge-act approach and that we can only do once we have change in our mind-set,” he said.

He said councillors were the ones who took decisions during the budget votes and if they attended CMF meetings they would be able to justify why monies should be pumped into water infrastructure.

Bulman said one of the problems in the Msunduzi River was that sewage seeps into it from informal settlements near the river and in the uMgeni River, and blocked drainage flows into Midmar Dam.

The problem of industries dumping oil into Camps Drift was also highlighted, as well as the problem of commercial farmers who also dump their waste into the river.

KZN Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation director Jay Reddy said when it formed CMFs about 10 years ago, the aim was to have a link with various community members on how the department can improve the quality of water by working with others.

“This is working because we cannot be everywhere,” he said.

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