Cross-province interventions to tackle Vaal Dam sewer spills

Friday, November 8, 2019

Provinces are working together to implement interventions aimed at stopping pollution into the Vaal River Dam system, Deputy President David Mabuza said on Thursday.

He was responding to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces.

“Given the fact that the Vaal River system cuts through and benefits four Provinces, it has been agreed that a collaborative intergovernmental approach is required to holistically respond to pollution challenges across the entire Vaal River system in South Africa.

“In this regard, the Provinces of Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga, and Northern Cape will be required to work together to implement coordinated interventions that will drastically reduce the pollution of the Vaal River system.

“Within a short while, we will be convening a meeting with the Premiers of affected Provinces to ensure that we agree on the implementation of an integrated intergovernmental plan that will respond sustainably to the ongoing challenge of the Vaal River system pollution,” he said.

Mabuza said despite progress made to date, it is evident that more urgent work still needs to be done to fully contain the Vaal River system pollution.

He said urgent interventions include the upgrading of ageing bulk sewerage and reticulation infrastructure which contributes to the diversion of sewage into the river system.

“The team led by the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has shared a comprehensive plan with clear sets of actions and required resources.

“It has been indicated that R1.1 billion would be required to stop pollution of the Vaal River.”

He said the Department of Water and Sanitation, working with Gauteng COGTA, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency, SA National Defence Force, Ekurhuleni Water Care Company, Emfuleni Local Municipality and Rand Water have developed an intervention plan to stop the pollution into the Vaal River.

He said the intervention plan includes the fixing of 44 pump stations and three waste water treatment plants - Sebokeng, Leewkuil and Rietspruit.

This will also include replacing and repairing gravity raising mains, leak detection and addressing deficiencies in the network system.

“The Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has already appointed the Ekurhuleni Water Care Company to attend to the urgent task of unblocking the sewer reticulation system and fixing leakages to ensure that sewage flows into the Vaal River are eliminated.

“To successfully deal with water pollution and negative environmental impacts, we need to mobilise resources to ensure that the Vaal River situation is completely resolved in short, medium, and long term,” he said.

Mabuza said the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has reprioritised an amount of R240 million of its Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant budget towards the mitigation of the Vaal River pollution and to pay the SANDF.

He said the Gauteng Provincial COGTA Department as well as the Emfuleni Local Municipality have also reprioritised their budgets and contributed R20 million and R90 million, respectively.

The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has further requested funding from the National Treasury for the short fall of R750 million.

“To fast track the Human Settlement Development Programme and contribute towards economic development in the Emfuleni Local Municipality, the capacity of the waste water treatment plants in the area should be augmented. It is estimated that the cost of this project will require R6 billion and a proposal has been submitted to National Treasury to fund this programme.

“As the Presidency, we will continue to work closely with the other relevant stakeholders to ensure that we resolve sewer spillage challenges and restore the integrity of the Vaal River System.” –