Sewage continues to spill into the Vaal River, on to the streets of Vereeniging and into people’s homes. 
Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)
Sewage continues to spill into the Vaal River, on to the streets of Vereeniging and into people’s homes.

Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

Article by Sheree Bega | original article here.

On the map, Bernice Maritz lives in Connaught Avenue. But her family have another name for it: Shit Street.

A pool of sewage gathers like a dark stain on the street in Peacehaven or “Poohaven” as it’s been described, in Vereeniging.

The spillages are often far worse. “Usually our whole street is covered in sewage,” said Maritz. “That’s why my mom calls it 'Shit Street', because that’s all there is. The smell is terrible.”

She was home a few weeks ago when a stinking torrent of human waste flooded her yard. “It was horrible,” said Maritz, as she stepped across remnants of the spillage. “This whole area, everything, was covered in sewage. We had poo, toilet paper, condoms and nappies, all over our garden. The sewage went through the walls It’s so unhealthy to live like this, especially now with the coronavirus."

“This stopped being sewage a long time ago,” said local resident Tersia Venter, flicking through an endless stream of photos of sewage spills in the area on her phone. “If you can see human turds in the street, it’s not sewage anymore.” 

The Vaal’s sewage pollution crisis has hit hard in Vereeniging. Many of the region’s 44 pump stations remain dysfunctional, with the impact “particularly noticeable in Vereeniging, with ongoing high sewage pollution levels in the Vaal River and in the streets”, according to local environmental watchdog Save the Vaal Environment (Save).

Between Vereeniging and the Vaal Barrage, the river remains polluted, contaminating water supplies in Parys and communities further downstream.

The non-profit said Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had “taken a leadership role” in the R1.2 billion Vaal Intervention Project, which aims to repair Emfuleni municipality’s wastewater treatment system: a 2600 km pipe network, the 44 pump stations and three wastewater plants that collapsed in 2017. Still, “there’s a long way to go before we see a sewage and pollution-free Vaal River in the Emfuleni area”.

In recent months, the Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (Erwat) took over from the SANDF, which could not complete its refurbishment programme as it was not properly funded.

“We did not really see any improvement in Peacehaven when the army was here and the only change we now see is when the trucks are here to pump out the sewage,” said Venter, the secretary of the Vereeniging community policing forum.

“It looks good today because these guys are here. But if they don’t come back within three days, then we sit with a major problem again. Most of the people here in Peacehaven can’t use their own freakin’ toilets and showers. The moment they do, the sewage spills over into their housesThey cannot walk from one side of their own freakin’ driveway to the other side because they’re walking through sewage. Since 2017, this has been normal to us and that’s unacceptable.”

For the last few months, sewage has no longer been permanently running in her street, said Zelda Mullen, who lives in Peacehaven. But it still pushes up from a manhole, pooling in her flowerbed. The stench is unbearable. “It's been here for years. We can't braai outside here. It stinks. God forbid, you start cooking."

She wondered if her family’s proximity to the sewage could have been to blame for her 63-year-old husband, developing life-threatening septicaemia in March.

“The doctors said it was probably airborne. He didn’t have an operation, no illness, nothing. So we don’t know if it was that (sewage), but hello, when you’ve lived with shit on your street and in your home ..."


Sewage continues to spill into the Vaal River, on to the streets of Vereeniging and into people’s homes. 

Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

John was in ICU for 17 days and had kidney, liver and heart failure. “The kids had to come from the UK because we thought this was it. It will take a year-and-a-half for him to fully recover. We’re so sick of living in the Vaal.”

Across the country, the municipal sewage system has crumbled. The government's Water and Sanitation Master Plan reveals 56% of the 1150 municipal wastewater treatment works and 44% of the 962 water treatment works, are in a poor or critical condition, with 11% dysfunctional.

Between 1999 and 2011, the extent of main rivers in South Africa classified as having a poor ecological condition increased by 500%, with “some rivers pushed beyond the point of recovery”.

Environmental activist Mariette Liefferink, said the Vaal River is the country’s most hard-working. “It’s a very important river system because it supplies water to 60% of the economy and 40% of the population and it augments other river systems like the Crocodile West and Limpopo river system ... What has happened to the Vaal is like a festering sore that took years to manifest.”

Since Erwat took over, it has unblocked pipes in the sewage network, but the "benefits will only be seen when all pump and treatment plants are fully operational,” said Save.

Erwat removed "50 tons of rubble in the system, cleaned 25km of lines, fixed or unblocked 383 manholes, replaced 460 manholes" and improved the flow to the three wastewater treatment works, according to Save member Mike Gaade.

The DWS was not extending Erwat’s one-year contract at month end and was “now directly responsible for this project”.

DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said negotiations were still under way. “Whether they continue or someone else takes over is something that will be finalised in a week or two.

“What they have done is what they were expected to, which is quite a good bit. There is improvement but it’s not optimal.

"Until we’re able to resolve the whole situation, we cannot rest on our laurels,” he said.


South Africa - Johannesburg - 18 June 2020 - Mike Gaade from Rietspruit in the Vaal talks about how the sewage continues to spill and affect the river.
Picture:Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

Rietspruit suffers the consequences of ineffective wastewater treatment

The completion of expansion to the Sebokeng wastewater treatment plant is a step in the right direction, says Save. “This project started several years ago and came to a standstill in 2018 due to lack of funds. It was 96% complete at that point. Under the Minister’s watch, this project was restarted in mid-May 2020. July 2020 seems to be a realistic completion date.”

The new module will treat about one third of the Sebokeng treatment plant’s wastewater when operational. The rest of the Sebokeng plant has not been working since it was vandalised two years ago. “Work is required on that plant so that the remaining two thirds of sewage can be properly treated.”

There is no information about when effluent pumped into the Rietspruit from this plant will be fully compliant with required standards, it says.

“Work is required on the Rietspruit plant, which is currently operating at some 30% of its capacity and has been deteriorating for years. Yet, its repair programme has been left continuously on the back burner.

"This plant continues to be a major contributor to pollution of the Rietspruit and Vaal Rivers, and has caused a build-up of some 1.5m of black sludge on the riverbed where the Rietspruit enters Loch Vaal.”

It continues to pump poorly-treated sewage into the Rietspruit. Save's Mike Gaade, who lives on the banks of the polluted Rietspruit, has gone from optimistic to "mildly pessimistic" in the last six months.

“All the promises we get have not been fulfilled ... It's about four years that the sewage sludge has been coming down here to the Rietspruit but it got really bad in November 2017. It's a bit better, partly because they've unblocked some of the pipes and got the flow going ... The sewage crisis affecting everywhere from the Klip the other side of Vereeniging right through the whole town and in the streets and then it's affecting Parys."

In October, Save agreed to suspend litigation to give the intervention team an opportunity to show progress, but it warns that unless there’s a drastic improvement, it will continue court proceedings.

By: Nelendhre Moodley | original article here.

Following poor water control measures over the years, South Africa now finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place as its dire water situation continues to worsen. Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu recently launched South Africa’s National Water and Sanitation Master Plan – but is the plan too little too late? Infrastructure recently caught up with the Federation for a Sustainable Environment’s CEO Mariette Liefferink for a view on exactly how severe South Africa’s water challenges really are and whether the country will be able to meet its sustainable development goals in relation to water by 2030.

Citing the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan’s Call to Action launched in November 2019, Liefferink says the document highlighted South Africa’s shocking water situation, with 56% of wastewater treatment works and 44% of water treatment works reported as being in a poor or critical condition, with 11% dysfunctional.

“More than 50% of South Africa’s wetlands have been lost, and of those that remain, 33% are in poor ecological condition. Furthermore, between 1999 and 2011 the extent of main rivers in South Africa classified as having a poor ecological condition increased by 500%, with some rivers pushed beyond the point of recovery. In addition, municipalities are losing about 1 660 million cubed metres per year through non-revenue water – this includes all water supplied that isn’t paid for, including physical water losses through leaks in the distribution system, illegal connections, unbilled consumption and billed, but unpaid, water use. At a unit cost of R6/m3 this amounts to R9.9-billion each year.”

Added to this are the delays in the implementation of Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (to augment the Vaal River System for greater Gauteng), the uMkhomazi Water Project Phase 1 (to augment the Mgeni System for the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Metropolitan Area) and the augmentation of the Western Cape Water Supply System, which have significantly impacted on water security, and subsequently on the socio-economies of the areas.

“If demand continues to grow at current levels, the deficit between water supply and demand could be between 2.7 and 3.8 billion m3/a by 2030, a gap of about 17% of available surface and groundwater,” notes Lifferink.

Given the severity of South Africa’s water challenges, the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan called for the following interventions:

  • Revitalisation of the Green, Blue and No Drop programmes and the publication of results annually.
  • Identification and prosecution of major non-compliant abstractors (water thieves) across the country, with a national communication campaign to accompany the action by 2020.
  • Identifying and prosecution of big polluters across the country (including municipalities), with a national communication campaign to accompany the action by 2020.
  • Declaration of strategic water source areas and critical groundwater recharge areas and aquatic ecosystems recognised as threatened or sensitive as protected areas by 2021.
  • Review and promulgation of aggressive restrictions within the legislation to restore and protect ecological infrastructure by 2020.
  • Secure funds for restoration and ongoing maintenance of ecological infrastructure through operationalising the water pricing strategy annually.
  • Establishing financially sustainable Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs) across the country, and transferring staff and budget and delegated functions, including licensing of water use and monitoring and evaluation of water resources by 2020.
  • Establishment of a National Water Resources and Services Authority and Regulator by 2020.

“Although government had planned to have these measures in place, at the time of writing the FSE was not aware that any progress had been achieved on the targeted areas,” says Liefferink. “We hope that the impact of the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan will be delivered through action, and through the recognition that ‘you cannot drink paper plans’.”

Given the depth of South Africa’s water challenges, is there a chance of meeting its sustainable development goals (SDGs)?

In 2015, South Africa committed to adopt the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, including Sustainable Development Goal 6 which aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.

Included in the SDG report, says Liefferink, is target 6.3 which is focused on improving water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimising the release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and reuse globally by 2030; with target 6.6 looking to protect and restore water-related ecosystems.

“According to the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation’s River EcoStatus Monitoring Programme State of Rivers Report 2017-2018, only 15% of South Africa’s rivers are in a good condition and the Vaal River Water Management Area has no sites that are in a good condition; and according to the SA National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) National Biodiversity Assessment: The Status of South Africa’s Ecosystems and Biodiversity, two-thirds of the total length of South Africa’s rivers are in a poor ecological condition.”

Furthermore, the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Directorate’s presentation on wetlands and lakes noted that the SA National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA) 2018 indicated that while 6% of wetlands were protected, 79% were in the threatened category.

In addition, “despite the interventions of the SA Defence Force, Ekurhuleni Water Care Company, the minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation and the South African Human Rights Commission in the pollution caused by spillages of raw sewage into the Vaal River, the situation has continued to deteriorate. Rand Water’s quarterly water quality results show that the in-stream quality of water at the Rietspruit at Sebokeng has E. coli counts of 9 188 000per 100ml. The regulatory limit is 400 counts per 100ml. E. coli in water is a strong indication of sewage or animal waste contamination. In light of these factors, it is difficult to see how South Africa will reach its SDG by 2030,” says Liefferink.

Tackling our water woes

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Liefferink has painted a dire picture of South Africa’s water situation. But can new legislative interventions and the mining industry’s endeavours curb the downward slide?

While practical on-the-ground developments remain sluggish, government has made some headway through the promulgation of new water rules and regulations, which include the Water and Sanitation Department’s publication (a collaboration with the Minerals Council) called Benchmarks for Water Conservation and Water Demand Management (WC/WDM) In the Mining Sector.

The commodity-based national water use efficiency benchmark aims to guide the acceptable levels of water usage by the mining industry, and to improve water use efficiency within the mining operations.

In addition, the Department of Environmental Affairs has published the Proposed Regulations pertaining to Financial Provisioning for the Rehabilitation and Remediation of Environmental Damage caused by reconnaissance, Prospecting and Exploration which notes that “financial provision must guarantee the availability of sufficient funds for the remediation and management of residual and latent environmental damage including the ongoing pumping and treatment of polluted or extraneous water”.

According to Liefferink, this in essence means that the CEO or business rescue practitioner of the company is responsible for implementing the rehabilitation plans.

“What is new is the fact that the liquidator or business rescue practitioner is also responsible for the determination of the financial provision and the implementing the rehabilitation plans and report.”

Liefferink also flags the South African Human Rights Commission which has directed the Department of Water and Sanitation to comply with the following:

  • Include in their annual reports the number of compliance notices or other sanctions imposed including the proportion of successful interventions and/or criminal prosecutions undertaken against non-compliance.
  • Take definitive steps to ensure legal protection of our water sources areas through the deployment ofthe relevant legislative tools in place.
  • Provide a report on the current state of water monitoring, including:
    • Conducting regular determination of the water reserve, including how the DWS accounts for anticipated migration and population growth, limitations or inadequacies in municipal infrastructure as well as other potential impacts on the availability of water resources, such as drought.
    • Audit on all existing water-use licences to ensure they adequately protect the water reserve, including basic needs and ecological requirements.
    • Monitor compliance with water-use licences and its impacts, particularly in mining areas, and the impact mining has and will have on the water reserve and how this aligns with the National Strategic Plan for Water.

The FSE has yet to receive a response on the Human Rights Commission’s progress in relation to the directives, says Liefferink, however the mining industry has been more proactive in progressing its water agenda, especially Sibanye-Stillwater and DRDGOLD.

Diversified mining house Sibanye-Stillwater, which was recognised as the most ‘collaborative’ and ‘water-saving’ company in the local mining industry by Rand Water in November last year, has participated in the creation of the Water Conservation and Water Demand Management (WC/WDM) Assessment Tool.

In line with its water-wise agenda, the miner has a number of initiatives under way including:

  • Potable water independence: using alternative available groundwater sources and rainwater harvesting to help reduce its reliance on purchased water sources.
  • Reduce water loss through:
    • implementing effective real-time metering, water balance management reporting, proactive leak detection and immediate repair initiatives.
    • minimising losses of water through evaporation and seepage by optimising the density of tailings deposition and recovering and recycling of water at our tailing facilities.
    • improving water-use efficiency by tracking and managing water-use efficiency KPIs for all consumers.

Gold surface retreatment company DRDGOLD too continues to progress its water conservation plans, which include reclamation interventions at its operations aimed at removing sources of pollution, rehabilitating targeted areas and enhancing ecosystem functioning, including attraction of fauna and flora, and improved water quality, among others.

“We hope that more mining companies will be proactive rather than reactive as far as mine water management is concerned and that businesses will realise that water security presents a critical and profound challenge to South Africa’s social well-being and economic growth. Poor water quality is one of the major threats to South Africa’s ability to provide sufficient water of suitable quality that can support development needs. The financial resources currently available for managing water quality are insufficient for the task, and do not recognise the level of investment that is required to counteract the economic harm done by declining water quality,” says Liefferink.


Image: Jozi Gold ©Maanda-Nwendamutswu

 

‘n Voortgesette en oormatige geraas van die Tiger Brands fabriek in die industriële gebied het inwoners in die Suiddorp genoodsaak om die fabriek vir geraasbesoedeling aan te kla.

Tiger Brands in Potchefstroom word van geraasbesoedeling aangekla.
 

‘n Voortgesette en oormatige geraas van die Tiger Brands fabriek in die industriële gebied het inwoners in die Suiddorp genoodsaak om die fabriek vir geraasbesoedeling aan te kla.

Een van die inwoners, Sarel Eloff, wat vir 43 jaar in Pepplerstraat woon, sê die geraas het al in November 2019 begin. Hy het die fabriek in Desember geskakel om formeel ‘n klag in te dien, maar is aangeraai om dit aan die begin van Januarie 2020 te doen, omdat die fabriek in Desember gesluit het. Hy het op 4 Januarie ‘n e-pos aan Cornelius Mtshali gestuur wat die ontvangs van die brief erken het en dit ook aan ander personeellede, onder meer die fabrieksbestuurder en ‘n ingenieur, aangestuur het.

Mtshali het na ‘n klep aan die agterkant van die “ace plant” verwys en voorgestel om Momentum vir ‘n geraasopname te nader.

Intussen het die inwoners gewag dat die probleem opgelos moet word. Aan die begin van Mei het ‘n polisiebeampte die Herald gebel en gevra dat daar ondersoek ingestel moet word, omdat daar niks aan die geraasbesoedeling gedoen word nie. “Die geraas duur dag en nag voort. Ek werk skofte en is desperaat omdat ek nie kan slaap nie,” het hy gesê.

Ander inwoners het hulle ontevredenheid met die geraas op die Potchefstroom Facebookblad gedeel. Een daarvan was Magda Kroukamp wat op 4 Mei om 21:35 skryf: “Naand almal, ons bly in Chris Hanistraat. Ons hoor ‘n harde snaakse geluid buite. Kan dit nie beskryf nie, maar dis irriterend. Wie hoor dit ook?” Adelle Kock reageer op dieselfde boodskap en skryf: “Ja dit irriteer baie mense en Tiger Brands doen niks daaraan nie.”

Die Herald het daarna ‘n fabrieksbestuurder van Tiger Brands geskakel om te hoor of hulle van die klagtes bewus is. Hy het gesê dat hy niks daarvan af weet nie, maar dat hy sal ondersoek instel.

Inwoners het hulle klagtes aan raadslid Johan Zerwick oorgedra wat weer op sy beurt ‘n gesondheidsinspekteur van J.B Marks genader het. Thebe Gaonnwe, waarnemende bestuurder vir munisipale gesondheid van die Dr. Kenneth Kauda distrik munisipaliteit, is tans aangestel om die saak verder te ondersoek. Gaonnwe het die Herald verseker dat hulle eersdaags beplan om ‘n telefoniese onderhoud met die bestuur van Tiger Brands te voer en dat hulle dit later met ‘n skriftelike kennisgewing sal opvolg.

Die Herald het intussen Mariëtte Liefferink, die hoof uitvoerende beampte van “The Federation for a Sustainable Environment” gekontak, om meer agtergrond oor geraasbesoedeling te kry.

Sy sê dat geraasbesoedeling deel is van omgewingswetgewing wat in die grondwet vervat is. Die grondwet lê neer dat almal die reg het op ‘n omgewing wat nie skadelik vir hulle gesondheid en welstand is nie.

Liefferink sê dat geraasbesoedeling net so skadelik vir mense is as enige ander besoedeling. “Blootstelling aan voortgesette of oormatige geraas kan gesondheidsprobleme veroorsaak wat stres, swak konsentrasie, verlies aan produktiwiteit by die werk en uitputting weens ‘n gebrek aan slaap tot gevolg het. In meer ernstige gevalle kan dit lei tot kardiovaskulêre siektes, kognitiewe gebreke, tinnitus en gehoorverlies.”

Sy haal die Nasionale Omgewingsbestuurswet 107 van 1998 aan wanneer sy besoedeling verduidelik en sê dat besoedeling enige verandering in die omgewing is wat ‘n negatiewe uitwerking op die gesondheid en welstand van die mens het.

Verder verduidelik sy steurende geraas en sê dat dit volgens die geraasregulasies van 1998 verklaar kan word. “Steurende geraas in terme van die geraasregulasies van 1998 beteken die vlak van geraas oorskrei die omringende klankvlak wat deurlopend op dieselfde meetpunt van 7dBA gemeet word. Die dBA beteken die waarde van die klankdruk vlak in desibels. “Steurende geraas beteken enige geluid wat ‘n persoon se gemak en vrede versteur of belemmer,” sê Liefferink.

Gemeet aan Liefferink se verduideliking van geraasbesoedeling, is dit dus duidelik dat die Suiddorp aan geraasbesoedeilng blootgestel word.

Liefferink sê verder dat plaaslike gesag moet vasstel of die geraas bo die aanvaarbare norm is. Munisipale gesondheid is dus hiervoor verantwoordelik en moet ‘n skrywe rig aan die persoon/instansie wat die geraas veroorsaak waarin hulle aangespreek moet word om die geraas te stop of om die vlakke van geraas te verminder.

Die Herald het Tiger Brands vir kommentaar genader en gevra wat hulle beplan om die geraasbesoedeling op te los.

Mediawoordvoerder van Tiger Brands, Kanyisa Ndyondya, sê hulle het dadelik die klagte van die publiek opgevolg en het die departement van Arbeid se goedgekeurde inspeksieowerheid genader om ‘n omtrek geraasopname te doen.

“Die opname het aangedui dat ‘n hoër vlak van geraas (5 desibels hoër) in die nag by die oostelike kant van die fabriek voorkom, wat toegeskryf kan word aan die waaier wat by die area geïnstalleer is. Om die probleem op te los, het die fabriek se ingenieur ‘n knaldemper (silencer) by die waaier geïnstalleer.

Ndyondya sê verder dat hulle ‘n onafhanklike derde party met die nodige kundigheid en toerusting genader het om die situasie te evalueer en hulle verwag dat dit deur die loop van die week afgehandel sal wees. “Dit sal die fabriek in staat stel om die mees betroubare en akkurate inligting aan die aangrensende gemeenskap te verskaf.

Ndyondya sê verder dat Tiger Brands die gemeenskap bedank vir hulle volgehoue ondersteuning. Hulle verseker die inwoners ook dat hulle toegeweid is om die probleem op te los.

by Venessa van Der Westhuizen | original article here.

The following comments are submitted – with diffidence and deference - on behalf of the Federation for Sustainable Environment (FSE). The FSE is a member of a number of theDepartment of Water and Sanitation’s Steering-, Project- and Strategy Steering Committees, Implementation Task Teams; Expert Steering Committees; the WSSLG’s SDG6 Task Teamand a number of Catchment Management Forums.

From a reading of the Inception Report in terms of the Development of the National Eutrophication Strategy we deduce that the Scope of Work will include inter alia a report on eutrophication challenges in South Africa and their causes; the development of the National Eutrophication Strategy; putting the Strategy into Practice detailing the actions, the roles and timeframes; developing a monitoring and reporting system; stakeholder involvement; etc. The estimate timeframes from the 1st component to the implementation of the Strategy (“putting the Strategy into Practice”) will be approximately 20 months.

While we welcome the development of actions that would provide the detail necessary to turnthe National Eutrophication Strategy into action (s 2.4 of the Inception Report, titled “Strategyinto Practice”), such as the assignment of roles and responsibilities and the timeframes for undertaking the actions, it is the FSE’s considered opinion that it is not necessary to wait forthe development of the National Eutrophication Strategy to immediately implement a number of actions to address the challenges of eutrophication. Analogous to the FSE’srecommendation, the IWQM Policy identified eutrophication already in 2016 as one of the five aspects of water pollution as being priorities for immediate regulatory action at the national level.

The following challenges were identified by the DWS, which require immediate action:

1. The lethargy in completing the roll-out and delegations to catchment management agencies

page1image26058816page1image26066304page1image26058048

The Inception Report on page 1 informs us that “this project is entirely reliant on activities performed within the Department, the CMAs, together with other institutions within the watersector”.

It is common cause that the number of WMAs was reduced from nineteen (19) to nine (9) in 2013 and that the establishment of the CMAs has been slow. By the end of 2016, only two of the nine CMAs were established in terms of the National Water Act, 36 of 1998 and functional. No functions have been delegated to these bodies which are therefore currently only responsible for the limited initial functions of a CMAs as set out in the Act. DWS acts as CMAs in most of the country.

The National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, 2018 called for the establishment of financially sustainable CMAs across the country and transfer of staff and budget1 and delegate functions including licensing of water use and monitoring and evaluation of water resources by 2020.

Atthetimeofwritingweareunawareofanyprogressinthisregard. ThedevelopmentoftheNational Eutrophication Strategy (“the project”) is at risk to be aborted unless CMAs becomefunctional.

2. Dysfunctional Waste Water Treatment Works

A key contributor to the deterioration of water quality of South Africa’s water resources and the marked increase in nutrients and microbiological contaminants with associated health risks is the result of untreated or partially treated municipal wastewater discharges from sewage treatment works.

To exemplify:

The recent instream water quality results of the Rietspruit@Sebokeng within the Rietspruit Catchment Management Area as provided by Rand Water show an e-coli count of 9,188,000 per 100ml for the period January to March 2020.

The resulting eutrophication in major dams has caused health threats to livestock and humans.

We are of the considered opinion that the most important driver of eutrophication is dysfunctional waste water treatment works, dense informal settlements without proper sanitation, vandalism of sewage reticulation systems, and sewage spills over many years into receiving steams2. The tipping point has already been reached, beyond which, our ecosystems can no longer absorb and process the nutrients and other pollutants being passed on to it.

The actions proposed by the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan is to, by 2020: “Identify and prosecute big polluters across the country (including municipalities), with a national

1 There are substantial financial shortfalls if Catchment Management Agencies are to be fully implemented and operationalized.

2 The state of our waste water treatment works (56% of waste water treatment works and 44% of water treatment works are in a poor of critical condition; 11% are dysfunctional) has significantly impacted upon the ability of downstream ecosystems to operate effectively with nutrient build-up and a general drop in water quality. This has resulted in a nutrient build up in our rivers and wetlands. According to the NW&S Master Plan between 1999 and 2011 the extent of main rivers in South Africa classified as having a poor ecological condition increased by 500% with some rivers pushed beyond the point of recovery. South Africa has lost over 50% of its wetlands and of the remaining 3.2 hectares, that is, one third are already in a poor condition.

page2image25992704

communication campaign to accompany the action inclusive of reviving the Blue Scorpions”(1.4.8).

The above-mentioned actions, we respectfully suggest, must be implemented concurrently with the development of the National Eutrophication Strategy. Failure to prosecute municipalities and other polluters will render the objectives of the National Eutrophication Strategy impotent.

3. Eutrophication challenges in South Africa and their causes

As a deliverable in terms of s 2.2 of the Inception Report, a Report on eutrophication challenges in South Africa and their causes is envisioned.

Mining, in particular platinum mining, can result in increased nitrogen levels in groundwater through the use of nitrogen-based explosives. These various nitrate sources can contribute to mining-related impacts on the water resources.

Most commercial explosives contain between 70% and 90% ammonium nitrate – which is highly soluble in water. Spillages, dissolution in wet holes and incomplete detonation during blasting activities will result in soil and water contamination with nitrates, nitrites and ammonia. Nitrogen-rich water is typically pumped from the underground workings and then circulates through process water dams, the tailings dam return water and the concentrator plant. If not contained in the mine water circuit, surface spills or seepage through unlined facilities may pose a risk to groundwater. (Reference: https://www.srk.co.za/en/za-helping-mines-find- real-source-nitrates-water.)

Since algae and other plants use nitrates as a source of food, it may result if unchecked, in eutrophication.

In view of the aforesaid, the FSE recommends that the Report also includes the impacts of mining in the eutrophication challenges.

4. National Eutrophication Monitoring Programme

Finally, kindly advise regarding the status of the National Eutrophication Monitoring Programme which assesses trophic status, risks and trends of single impoundments, river reaches or canals.

SUBMITTED BY:
Mariette Liefferink.
CEO: FEDERATION FOR A SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT 2 June 2020.

Comments attached for download.

Saturday, 23 May 2020 13:53

COVID-related Directions Gazette

Attached hereto kindly find 3 Directions, made by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, in terms of regulation 4(10) of the Regulations issued in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (that was published on 29 April 2020 in Government Notice No. 480 in Government Gazette 43258), for your information.

Saturday, 23 May 2020 13:50

FSE's Report for April 2020

Find report attached for download. 

 ANNEXURE G ( FINAL RQOs - UPPER VAAL) - attached for download.

ANNEXURE B (NATIONAL WATER RESOURCE STRATEGY)
ANNEXURE C (IVRS RECONCILIATION STRATEGY)
& D (NEMA FINANCIAL REGULATIONS) - attached for download.

APPENDIX A - NATIONAL WATER AND SANITATION MASTER PLAN - attached for download.

Page 4 of 22

SA NEWS

FSE - DONATION OF TREES AND TREE PLANTING IN SIMUNYE, WEST RAND IN ASSOCIATION WITH SOUTH DEEP MINE

The FSE, in association with Gold Fields’ South Deep Mine, donated 40 white Karee Trees (Searsia penduline) during Arbor Week to the mining affected community of Simunye in the West Rand and participated in the tree planting ceremony with the community of Simunye, the local Municipality and officials from South Deep Mine.  The FSE also delivered a presentation during the ceremony.

"Varkies" gou op hok, maar als nie pluis | Beeld

Article also available for download as an attachment.

Radon Alert - Carte Blanche

Millions of South Africans are exposed to radioactive radon gas in their homes and workplaces every day, as the naturally occurring gas escapes through cracks in the earth. The second leading cause of lung cancer in several countries, radon breaks down and when inhaled, decaying atoms emit alpha radiation that can damage the DNA. There are no safe levels of radon concentration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency emphasises any radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. Carte Blanche investigates why South Africa has no regulations to protect against radon accumulation in the home and what you can do to test your home and prevent lung cancer.   Watch the video here.

WITS Economics & Finance Courses: Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage

Economics & Finance Courses at the University of the Witwatersrand. Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage - Understand taxation for development and sustainability in mining. View the course here. Enrolment starts on the 7th of October 2019.

WATER

How Relevant are the Vaal Barrage's Catchment Corums

Article in North Star - Vereeniging & Midvaal.Author: Johann Tempelhoff Article attached for download.

UNPACKING THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN WATER

PDF article attached for download....

The Federation for a Sustainable Environment’s ongoing role in addressing the sewage pollution in the Vaal River

‘People the same as pigs’ in the VaalBy Sheree Bega | 16 Oct 2020 Foul: Pigs ro...