Rou riool word al vir ‘n geruime tyd in die riviere wat die Vaaldam voed, gepomp. Daar was vroeer berigte sowel foto’s geneem waar rou riool direk in die riviere ingepomp word wat die dam voed en miljoene mense van water voorsien. Intussen vang mense te lekker vis en daar is geen manier as hierdie water so besoedel is dat vis nie gekontamineer is nie.
“Willfully pumping raw sewerage into a fresh water source is a criminal act prosecutable under the National Water Act. The Vaal Dam is a critical fresh water source for South Africa’s economic heartland and is of vital importance to many communities along the dam’s shoreline in the Free State.
A project which will pump raw sewage into the Vaal Dam is in an advanced stage, James Letuka, a DA member of the Free State provincial legislature. After receiving a complaint from local councillors, Letuka visited Deneysville and saw the pipes being laid. The pipes lead directly from the sewerage system to the dam.
“I saw it with my own eyes. The people working on the pipeline were very busy and I could see they were hurrying to get the job done. This is unacceptable,” Letuka said.
A planned artificial reed bed project at the centre of Deneysville was recently canned after it was met by opposition from the community.
“The Vaal is a source of water not only for the people in that area, but also for large parts of Gauteng,” said Letuka.
He said the sewerage project suggested the municipality had little regard for the environment and the welfare of local communities.
“We want to stop this project. The area where the pipes are leading is a recreational area with a caravan park. This pipeline will have serious repercussions. Not only will the plant and birdlife be affected, but it will also be a serious health hazard.”
Letuka has written to MEC Olly Mlamleli, requesting her to immediately intervene and put a stop the project.
“Access to water is a human right. The municipality’s intention to pump raw sewerage into the Vaal Dam threatens water security, the environment and most importantly the health and well-being of every single person dependent on the dam’s water.”
This was one of the submissions, made by Sonnyboy Bapela of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) inquiry into the water crisis in and around the Vaal River.
It was one of several submissions the department made to the SAHRC inquiry on Monday.
The SAHRC held the second session of its inquiry into how about 150 megalitres of raw sewage spilled into the Vaal River daily, affecting the quality of life of residents in the area.
Petrochemicals giant Sasol has denied that it is responsible for pollution in the Vaal river. However, it has admitted struggling to interpret some compliance requirements with regard to regulations on the discharge of waste. According to a report by the Department of Water and Sanitation Department, three of Sasol’s waste incinerators were closed after failing to comply.
Petro-chemical giant Sasol says three of its waste incinerators were closed because it struggled to interpret some compliance requirements. This comes after a report by Water and Sanitation showed that Sasol had failed to comply.
The City of Ekurhuleni is however resolute that they have not polluted the Vaal river system.
This emerged during the second day of an inquiry into spillage of raw sewage into the river. The Human Rights Commission which is holding the inquiry says there has been a violation of human rights in the crisis.
During day two of the inquiry municipalities insisted that they have clean hands. Ekurhuleni, which was implicated by Emfuleni municipality, proclaims its innocence.
However, the commission would not be taking that at face value. “The city says they do not contribute to the pollution in the Vaal River but we will be conducting a site inspection in Ekurhuleni to make sure we verify these allegations,” says Human Rights Commission’s Buang Jones.
Due to intense industry in Gauteng, pollution is a challenge. Compliance remains an even bigger issue. Sasol failed to comply with some requirements, relating to how they discharge their waste.
The commission continues on Wednesday as the City of Johannesburg and Treasury are expected to testify.