Concern over rivers of waste

Concerns are growing that faulty municipal water treatment works that leak sewage are destroying South Africa’s rivers and endangering the communities that live around them.

The Mail & Guardian reported two weeks ago that Environment Minister Buyelwa Sonjica told Parliament that at least 24 municipalities in South Africa had been issued with warnings about sewage leaking into rivers.

Water resources consultant Anthony Turton said the spillages were serious, but that the minister’s answers showed there were too many instances where municipalities simply ignored the directives.

‘This is what happens when the law is not applied appropriately,” he said. ‘The municipalities have no fear of being held accountable.”

He said if local government continued to ignore central government, there would be ‘anarchy”.


Although the Wilge River is a big cause of concern, other affected rivers include the Bronkhorstspruit, Brugspruit, Eeufees River, Vleispruit and the Blesbokspruit in Springs, Ekurhuleni.

‘The department has adopted a zero-tolerance approach to the contravention of regulations,” said Linda Page, department of water affairs spokesperson.

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