RECENT

Over the past months, the pollution of the Vaal River has turned into a disaster. AfriForum, therefore, has announced how this organisation plans on rehabilitating this river and the areas next to it.

The campaign was launched in Parys, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ngwathe Local Municipality, as this is where the pollution is at its worst. Untreated sewage is dumped into the river here, which has led to a high fish mortality rate.

According to Marcus Pawson, AfriForum’s Head of Environmental Affairs, the campaign is innovative and will help address the current environmental disaster by releasing active (good) bacteria into the water, which will break down the sewage and reintroduce oxygen into the river. Hopefully, this will prevent remaining fauna and flora from dying.

AfriForum had planned to deliver a memorandum on the municipality’s poor water and sewage management practices to Bruce Kannemeyer, the Municipal Manager, but he refused to accept it.

“Together with the memorandum, we also planned to deliver dead fish, as well as sewage and water samples (which do not adhere to national standards). E. coli levels in the river’s water are higher than what an accredited laboratory can measure. This shows that the water from the Parys sewage plant is not treated sufficiently – if treated at all. AfriForum also laid criminal charges in this regard against Kannemeyer,” Pawson says.

According to Stephen Nel, AfriForum’s Provincial Coordinator for the central region, Parys is often subjected to water problems.

“The residents of Parys often struggle with insufficient water delivery, and stinking, often brown to green tap water. In the meantime, businesses along the river suffer great losses because of the pollution – without the municipality communicating any active steps to residents. AfriForum’s Parys branch approached the municipality earlier because of its concerns about pollution in the Vaal River. Despite promises that it would address the problem, the municipality has done nothing to resolve the matter.”

“The pollution of the Vaal River is a punishable crime, and this happens with other rivers as well. AfriForum will soon publish its blue and green drop report for 2018, which shows for the sixth consecutive year that almost 80% of South Africa’s sewage plants are dysfunctional or even non-functional. Government daily dumps about 5 000 megalitre partially-treated or untreated sewage in rivers,” Pawson says.

All AfriForum branches along the Vaal River will launch similar action in their respective towns. Medium-term action will focus on the repairing of sewage pumps and plants, which are the greatest sources of pollution.

“AfriForum’s long-term aims with these projects include the creation of affordable community infrastructure with the latest technology to allow communities to purify water themselves without having to rely on government.”

According to Nel, AfriForum hopes that this action will result in better communication by the municipality, and that an action plan will soon be implemented to resolve the situation.

“AfriForum will monitor the situation continuously. People who want to help rehabilitate the river can register on AfriForum’s website to participate in the next rehabilitation action. Together we can save the Vaal River.”

Is your river polluted? SMS the name of your town to 45354 (R1) and give AfriForum the mandate to test the quality of your town’s water.

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