SAVE the VAAL returns to court
Save the Vaal Environment (SAVE) has applied to the High Court to join key government role players in national and provincial government to the structural interdict obtained against the Emfuleni Local Municipality in February 2018.
This latter order called for the Emfuleni Local Council and the Municipal Manager to stop pollution of the Vaal River from the council’s waste water system and to provide comprehensive plans, budgets and timelines to deal with the pollution. Emfuleni Local Council has not complied with this order.
The new application to the court calls for the Ministers of Finance, Water and Sanitation and Environmental Affairs as well as the Gauteng Premier and the Gauteng MEC’s: Finance and COGTA, to be joined to the February order. In this way, these entities will be made responsible with Emfuleni Local Municipality for the prevention of the pollution of the Vaal River, and will have to report back to the court and to SAVE on plans, implementation timelines, budgets and the monitoring thereof. A court date of 14th May has been secured on the unopposed roll.
Sewage pollution of the Vaal River continues unabated. The so-called plans provided by Emfuleni last year were not in line with what was envisioned by the court order.
SAVE met with Gauteng COGTA and the special adviser to the Gauteng Premier after the Premier announced partial administration of the Emfuleni Local Council. Despite commitments made at a meeting with Gauteng COGTA in July 2018, SAVE have not seen the promised action from COGTA. Communication from Emfuleni Local Council and the Gauteng Province has dwindled to nothing.
The process of serving all the respondents is a lengthy process. If any of the respondents decide to oppose the application this could well delay court appearance as the case would have to be transferred to the ‘opposed roll’.
SAVE welcomed the deployment of the Engineering Corps of the SANDF to deal with what SAVE described as ‘emergency repairs’ to attempt to stop the ongoing sewage pollution. The army has been working at Sebokeng Waste Water Treatment Plant since November 2018 but has been constrained by lack of funding.
Many financial numbers have been bandied about but there appears to be little transparency as to actual amounts of funding, where it is going and who is monitoring expenditure.
Visible sewage pollution from the Emfuleni Waste Water Treatment system has been ongoing, contaminating the Vaal River and the streets of Emfuleni. It is estimated that some 200 million litres of raw or partially treated sewage is entering the Vaal River daily. This also impacts on communities downstream of the Vaal Barrage.
To our knowledge at the time of writing, none of the working modules at the Sebokeng plant are operational yet. This waste water works is a major contributor to the sewage pollution. The Rietspruit treatment plant is not fully operational and very little capacity is being used at the Leeukuil plant as a result of a breakdown in the pump stations system.
Most pump stations are not operational and the situation is aggravated by the Eskom black-outs as there is no back-up power. In mid-town Vereeniging, the networks have collapsed with sewage seeping through the ground into the basements of buildings (see photograph).
There’s also the question of what will happen when the army leaves Emfuleni. It is unlikely that Emfuleni Local Council will have the resources to maintain and upgrade the waste water treatment system. It’s therefore
imperative that all government role players are subject to the terms of the February 2018 order and to ensure that these entities must report back to the court on progress and maintain open communication lines with SAVE.
SAVE is appealing to the business community as well as individuals and other organisations to support our fund-raising efforts and help us to ensure that that Government at all levels is focused on stopping pollution of the Vaal River.
We are a committee of volunteers who do not receive any personal financial or material benefit from this work. We need funding to ensure that we can continue to hold Government (and any other polluters of the Vaal River) accountable and responsible by enforcing South Africa’s excellent environmental and water legislation.
You can support us through monthly debit orders or lump sum payments.
All donations are tax deductible in terms of Section 18A of the Income Tax Act.
Irene Maine Resigns
Irene Maine has been the face of SAVE at Vaal Dam. Irene has done an enormous amount of work, singlehanded, to create awareness of the pollution problems and has kept the DWS officials on their toes.
Thank you Irene for the many years of wonderful work. We will miss you. You have left big shoes to step into but we hope that people who are passionate about the Dam will take up the challenge.
Lake Deneys Yacht Club donates R10 000
Vaal Dam’s LDYC donated R10 000 to SAVE’s efforts to clean up pollution in the Vaal. This followed SAVE’s participation at the 2019 Round the Island Race where LDYC donated a portion of the income received from this event.
SAVE committee members and their families spent the weekend at LDYC promoting the work of SAVE and creating greater awareness of pollution issues.
A BIG THANK YOU TO LDYC!
Blue Algae in Loch Vaal – Warning
Cynobacterium, also known as blue algae (see featured image) has made its appearance in Loch Vaal. Blue-green algae occur naturally in water resources. However, when nutrient loading exceeds certain levels, a water body can experience nuisance blue-green algae blooms that may produce and release toxins.
Although most blue-green blooms are not toxic, some blue-green algae produce nerve or liver toxins. … People may become ill after swimming or water skiing in water with toxic blue-green algae. Humans may experience stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhoea, and skin rashes.