VEREENIGING. – Thousands of megalitres of raw sewage continue to flow unabated into the Vaal River.
The environmental pressure group SAVE (Save the Vaal Environment) has discovered that sewage, which is no longer leaking at pump stations near Vereeniging, is being channelled to the Rietspruit Water Works.
SAVE made this discovery during a recent “in situ” inspection of sewage works when it was found that the Rietspruit Works are not functional.
As early as 2008, SAVE had clinched an interdict against the Emfuleni Local Municipality (ELM) to stop a massive raw sewage spillage into the Vaal River from the Vereeniging infrastructure, which killed fish, birds and other animals.
According to SAVE chairman Advocate LΓÇ¥tter Wepener, recent water tests at the Rietspruit Works show that thousands of megalitres of raw sewage continue to flow into the Vaal River via the Rietspruit and Loch Vaal, causing further pollution, which is a serious health hazard to humans, fish and birds. He describes it as “a major ecological disaster”.
“SAVE plans to embark on yet a further court action against Emfuleni to rectify this problem and stop this criminal conduct,” he said in a press statement this week.
He says the Vaal River below Vereeniging is so polluted that “it is dangerous for any human being to have contact with the water”.
Thousands of rotting fish contribute to an increasing health risk. He reports that the stench of rotting fish and sewage is unbearable in certain areas.
“Emfuleni Municipality, which caused the spillage and resultant dead fish and other animals, was requested in 2008 to remove the dead fish and birds from the river and to give an undertaking that this would be done by the weekend of 6/7 December 2008. As Emfuleni still fail to act and take responsibility, SAVE will, once again, approach the High Court for assistance to prevent further pollution of the Vaal River,” says Wepener.
He advises-river users to be aware that the water will not be safe for a considerable period of time and that contact with the water is “dangerous to humans”.
“SAVE is also making contact with the Department of Water Affairs and Rand Water with an appeal to ΓÇÿflushΓÇÖ the barrage reservoire by opening more gates at the Vaal Barrage,” says Wepener.
Rotting fish in themselves create a further health problem. Raw sewage in the water is highly dangerous and can cause illnesses such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery, cryptosporidium cysts and giardia cysts. It also leads to the formation of cyano bacteria in the water which is an extremely toxic algae which can kill off both aquatic and bird life, as experienced over the past two weeks.
* On Friday September 17 SAVE, together with its local branch SAVE Parys, also obtained a court order in the High Court of Bloemfontein against the Ngwathi municipality. Judge Molemela ordered Ngwathi to stop the deliberate sewage spillage into the Vaal River that has been occurring unabated for some time.
The court order followed after it came to SAVEΓÇÖs attention that the Ngwathi municipality was pumping raw sewage into the Vaal River.
News source:┬á Mooivaal Media – Vaalweekblad