Water Wednesday: Residents warned not to drink heavily polluted water from the Vaal River

The Vaal River is a major water resource around the country. Since the drought relief in the past year its water levels have been recorded at full capacity but despite this, the river has been in crisis mode for some time. According to Maureen Stewart of Save the Vaal raw sewage has been flowing directly into the Vaal because of mismanagement by the Emfuleni and Ngwathe local authorities.

Reports of fish dying in the water resurfaced in the last week prompting the Department of Water and Sanitation to conduct tests to investigate the causes.

Preliminary test results showed that the water of the Vaal River is very poisonous and contains high amounts of E.coli. Water and Sanitation department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the pollution is mostly from municipal sewage.

“Preliminary results show a high amount of E.coli that implies that there is a high inpour of partly-treated sewage,” said Ratau.

He said a number of municipalities are to blame for this and singled out Emfuleni as one of the municipalities with a problem. Ngwathe Local Municipality, which includes Parys, is downstream from Emfuleni.

“The sewage crisis along the banks of the Vaal River in Emfuleni is out of control and causing unbearable living conditions for residents,” said Stewart.

This is causing a major health risk and environmental disaster. Ngwathe municipality manager Bruce Kannemeyer said treated water is safe for consumption and that worried residents can boil water as an extra measure. This has impacted the electricity bills for residents.

In terms of the failing infrastructure at Emfuleni Municipality, Ratau said the department is carrying out its regulatory functions and support is being provided to the municipality.

To date, Ratau said, the department has issued five notices and six directives to the municipality in relation to the sewage spillages along the Sedibeng sewer scheme.

These kinds of issues speak to a larger crisis within the municipalities around the country, most of which have gone bankrupt and are highly mismanaged.

Here is your weekly dam update:

  • The Vaal River System consisting of 14 dams serving mainly Gauteng Sasol and Eskom is at 99.4%.
  • The Cape Town Dams System consisting of six dams serving mainly the City of Cape Town this week is at 51%.
  • The KwaZulu-Natal Dam System is at 63.1% this week while the Eastern Cape Dam System sits at 62.2%.

Here are the latest dam percentages throughout the country:

For a more in-depth rainfall update, visit WeatherSA or click here. For more information on the water storage levels across the country, visit the DWS site. For a comprehensive drought status report from the Department of Water and Sanitation, click here

 

  AUTHOR
Caxton Central

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