Minister warns of water diseases

2011-01-26 22:33

Cape Town - The massive floods that have swept across parts of the country have raised the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa warned on Wednesday.

The flooding had "created conditions that are conducive to the possibility of water-borne diseases like cholera", as well as animal diseases such as Rift Valley fever, she said in a statement.

Her department had already started work on an anti-cholera campaign, including "educating communities on water safety and ways of treating water".

Water affairs was also working very closely with the health and agriculture departments in this regard.

"People will be encouraged to take normal precautions in the use of water from rivers and streams of affected areas. The inoculation of livestock will also be critical."

Safe water sources

Molewa said in some parts of the country’s bridges had been washed away, and with them pipelines, cutting people's supply of safe water.

"(Our) intervention will therefore prioritise communities that have been left without safe water supply and may end up using raw, untreated water from the rivers.

"In these areas, most of which are in KwaZulu-Natal, the department will ensure the availability of potable water through tankering [sic] and also the installation of rainwater tanks."

She said an assessment of water-related infrastructure had been carried out in those parts of the country hit by flooding.

"This was with particular emphasis on water treatment works that have been flooded and are likely to threaten the quality of water."

The department was also working with the water boards in the affected areas.

"The boards will bring in their resources and expertise to assist in stabilising the situation. Where the boards operate in the different provinces, assessments have already begun."

Damage to infrastructure

The department was also assessing the cost of the floods to its own infrastructure, mainly water and dam monitoring equipment.

Molewa said she was setting aside R20m from a discretionary fund towards "the resolution of the current flood disaster".

The floods have so far claimed an estimated 70 lives, and affected 8 000 households.
Earlier on Wednesday, the government was sharply criticised for its management of the floods.

Maphaka Tau, a senior manager at the National Disaster Management Centre, told Parliament's portfolio committee on co-operative governance that the disaster had shown up weaknesses in government structures in containing the fallout from extreme weather.

Opening of sluice gates

He cited a failure to open sluice gates on the over-flowing Gariep and Vanderkloof dams - both 111% full - and a delay in opening the sluices on the Vaal Dam as an example of lack of expertise in the water affairs department.

"Somebody with a risk management understanding... would have monitored these dam levels. We would not have had a situation where the dam level comes to more than 100% and then they just leave it."

The government has defended the handling of the situation on the Vaal, saying it managed the release of water the way it did to prevent massive flood damage.

Molewa's statement made no mention of what repairs to pipelines, treatment plants and other infrastructure might cost. The department was not immediately available for comment.

  • Allin - 2011-01-27 06:00

    "Water diseases"? WTF@

  • Zion - 2011-01-27 06:42

    The honourable minister should also warn the public on water-borne diseases in tap water in many municipal areas. Now that is toxic.

  • Stephanie - 2011-01-27 08:01

    There is lack of expertise, the people with the knowledge and know how is now overseas!

  • Madelane - 2011-01-27 08:05

    Waffle waffle as if you actually understand something and perhaps the general public will think you do......waffle waffle waffle

  • bill - 2011-01-27 08:34

    Risk management understanding.The greatest risk is not appointing people to these positions on merit instead of neo-aparheid racial criteria.

  • MP3 - 2011-01-28 09:41

    wow, don't we feel all much safer now...

  • 2c - 2011-01-28 10:45

    She has also been warned about the "water diseases" lol, where sewrage is flowing into dams, and what has that helped? Now she wants to warn us? She must rather not open her mouth as frogs jumps out every time.

  • Israel - 2011-07-17 21:52

    I would like to send you attachments were I show the a photo of the greek I was working before & many photos showing his factory polluting the environment with toxic granite waist from his machines that cut blocks of granite, just Google this question Is Granite Toxic? Yes, very much so! There are three main dangers, dust ingestion, dust inhalation, and heavy metal leaching caused by acidic food or drink. Granite contains Polonium, Lead, Plutonium, Uranium, and Thallium. Other heavy metals like Arsenic, Mercury, Tungsten, Cadmium and Vanadium are also present . it can lead to increased risk of cancers of the lungs, pancreas, and blood. If ingested, there is an increased risk of liver diseases. Granite has more poisonous substances in it than any other countertop material, by far.So every 6 months or less the filter press malfunction making a build up of toxic slurry in the main silo then , the slurry start going into the tank of the recycle water making all the recycle water of the factory unusable so the only way this greek deal with this problem is dumping most of the contents into the storm drain of the factory polluting the recycle water of the municipality and that the filters of the municipality could never take all the toxics from the polluted water before putting it back on circulation for the people to drink without knowing the toxic elements left in the water all this and more will be send to the green scorpions when my case is done at the Labour Court

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