Marina Schoombee
3 minute read
8 Dec 2020
12:40 pm

Concerns raised over unrelenting pollution of the Vaal River

Marina Schoombee

According to the report’s blue drop status, the colour of the water in Lekwa, exceeds the limits, but the water is not unsafe.

The stream of water in Florapark that flows into the Vaal River.

Unabated pollution of the Vaal River can not be ignored as water flows into the Vaal Dam, which makes it a national problem.

The Standerton Advertiser began investigating behind Bergenheim Complex in Berg Street on Thursday, 3 December to see firsthand where blocked manholes created a stream of water.

The area is lush and provided photo opportunities to confirm that the grass is always greener on the other side.

It was suggested that this stream later joins a stream behind Laerskool Jeugkrag in Florapark, on its journey to the river.

Water under the small bridge behind the school was flowing freely on account, no doubt, of the good rain that fell.

Two blocked manholes in this area have been reported at the Lekwa Municipality and a reference number obtained.

The intersection at Coligny and Schwickard Streets, which was given coverage on the Facebook-page of ‘SAVE the Vaal’, and Frederick Street in Meyerville are also problematic.

Mr Piet Boer, a local businessman, said in 2018 that the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) was calling for submissions on the pollution of the Vaal River.

He referred the newspaper to the ‘SAVE the Vaal Environment’ on Friday, 4 December and a conversation with Mr Michael Gaade proved enlightening.

Mr Gaade was quoted on a national website in 2018, saying it’s not a river, it’s a sewage pit.

“Whatever is dumped in Standerton, becomes our problem,” the Vanderbijlpark resident commented.

“Even though SAVE only has a mandate to oversee the Vaal River from Vaal Dam to Parys, any of the sewage treatment plants around the Vaal Dam and upstream to Standerton, that are not operating to specification, will pollute the dam, which is Gauteng’s main water supply.”

August this year saw the DA’s PR-councillor, Ms Sithi Silosini, laying charges against the Municipal Manager, Ms Gugulethu Mhlongo-Ntshangase, at the Standerton Police Station and in September, the caucus leader, Mr Rosier de Ville, followed suit.

In both their affidavits, the Vaal River pollution through the waste water treatment plant, in line with the National Water Act 36 of 1998, is mentioned.

Mr Werner Weber, provincial leader of the Freedom Front Plus, issued a press release in October this year about sewage pollution in the province.

Mr Weber said natural resources, that are subjected to untreated human waste, have a long-lasting effect on residents and the environment.

He also said that even a High Court interdict against the municipality did not prevent pollution, because the infrastructure is not properly maintained.

Zanika Swart tries to find a good spot to cross the stream.


AfriForum has been actively involved in testing the drinking water of various towns in the province and released their blue drop status and green drop status on Thursday, 3 December.

“We will continuously test the water quality because residents have a constitutional right to clean, drinking water,” Mr Hennie Bekker, district coordinator for the Lowveld, said.

According to the report’s blue drop status, the colour of the water in Lekwa, exceeds the limits, but the water is not unsafe.

The green drop results for Standerton indicate that after testing sewage treatment plants, the town’s water has had E-coli content since 2015.

“AfriForum’s national blue and green drop project focuses on the state of drinking water and sewage treatment plants in towns,” Mr Bronwen Pretorius, district coordinator for the Highveld, said.

“This project does not necessarily focus on the condition of the plant itself, but rather on the quality of the water that is supplied as the end product in the form of drinking water and treated sewage water.”

Their statement concluded with saying the Department of Water and Sanitation does not fulfil its obligation to enforce legislation, when municipal authorities are the guilty parties.

Communications manager of the municipality, Ms Thobeka Mtshiselwa, had not responded to questions about whether Lekwa has put plans in place to curb pollution of the Vaal River at the time of publishing.

This article was republished from Ridge Times with permission 

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