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Pollution of Vaal Dam – the facts:

02 June 2015, 13:28

PRESS STATEMENT FROM SAVE THE VAAL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DATE:   Friday 29 May 2015

Pollution of Vaal Dam – the facts:

The Deneysville waste water plant  for which the Metsimaholo Municipality is responsible, has its final discharge point within 400m of  where Rand Water  abstract their water for tap water in Johannesburg.  This waste water effluent does not comply with required standards and represents a threat to the quality of tap and drinking water in the Gauteng region.

At a water forum meeting, an official from Water Affairs suggested that a trench be dug from the waste water plant to the Taaibosspruit, to divert the non-compliant effluent,

1 km away from the Rand Water inlet pipe. To move the discharge point in this instance would make no difference as the non-compliant effluent will still flow downstream towards the Rand Water abstraction point. 

The Metsimaholo Municipality has already started construction of a pipeline for sewage effluent away from the Rand Water pipeline.  Yet, another Department of Water Affairs official stated that as at 25 May 2015, no application had been received for a water use license as required by the National Water Act.  Such application should be made prior to construction of the pipeline.

However, she has advised that the Metsimaholo Municipality’s intention is to move their final discharge point (which goes into the Vaaldam), 1 kilometer away from the existing discharge point, which they say, will not impact on the water that Rand Water abstract from the Vaal. (The 'reed bed' project has been stopped.) According to the Department of Water affairs official, funding that was given to the municipality from Water Affairs Bloemfontein was to repair the dam wall that had collapsed at the sewage works and not for a pipeline to be built.

“A task team needs to be set up by Water Affairs to tackle this problem and find solutions on an urgent basis. The Municipality needs to upgrade their plant which is between 90-100% over capacity, and to treat their effluent properly. Water Affairs are aware of this and have been aware of this for a number of years”, says Irene Main, SAVE the VAAL’s representative for Vaal Dam.

“Deneysville waste water plant has not been compliant for a number of years. Several spillages and ongoing sewage issues have been reported to them”, Irene Main continued. 

This situation is the direct result of allowing development to take place and not upgrading the necessary infrastructure simultaneously, which in fact is occurring throughout South Africa daily. 

At Deneysville, the Department of Housing is preparing to build some 2 500 houses without any finality regarding the need and costs of  expanding  the infrastructure to cope with these additional homes.  At a recent water forum meeting, it could not be established whether funding will be provided by the Department of Housing as officials from DWAS were still in the early stages of negotiating this issue. DWAS also advised that their funds were limited.

“It is about time that Water Affairs, who are the custodians of our water courses, take this matter in hand and resolve this ongoing sewage issue, which is impacting not only on the quality of the water in the Vaal Dam, but also  the drinking water of the whole Gauteng region. The Metsimaholo waste water plant needs to be upgraded on an urgent basis and any funding that the Municipality receives, should be ‘ring-fenced’ for this purpose only, instead of wasting taxpayers monies on a pipeline that will actually serve no purpose at all at this stage”, Irene Main said.

  

Kathy Manten from the Ratepayers Association in Deneysville stated that since the media had highlighted this matter, the Metsimaholo Municipality had sourced chlorine supplies and were now treating the effluent, but she could not say how long this would last, and was concerned that once the spotlight was off this issue, the Municipality would revert back to their normal sporadic treatment of effluent.

The Government regulators dereliction of duty coupled with the shameless and irresponsible actions of Municipalities is destroying the Rivers and Dams in South Africa and threatening clean water supplies.

Ends

For further information:

Contact:  Irene Main: 078 521 1676

SAVE the Vaal Environment

Website: www.save.org.za

e-mail: save@mweb.co.za

Phone:   Maureen Stewart 082-5705058

SAVE is a community based non-profit environmental watchdog that aims to protect and maintain the environmental integrity of the Vaal River and its environs for future generations.  SAVE’s mandate extends from the Vaal Dam and the Vaal River System to the Barrage and Parys.

SAVE aims to achieve its mission by raising public awareness about polluters in national, provincial and local government, mining and industry and, where necessary to obtain High Court Interdicts against polluters of the Vaal River and its environs.

SAVE relies on donations to maintain a war-chest of funds to fight polluters in the High Courts where possible.  With the exception of a part-time secretary, all members of the committee are volunteers.

Organisations and people wishing to support SAVE’s efforts should contact SAVE at 083-286-3500 or visit the website www.save.org.za.

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