Environmental courts to be established

Environmental courts are to be established to address water crimes that threaten an already water-stressed nation, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica announced on Wednesday.

“We are working closely with the South African Police Service and the directorate of public prosecutions to address water crimes that threaten the security of supply to lawful water users,” she told the Agri SA water conference in Johannesburg.

“We will invite you to the launch of the first courts in the near future. I understand that water pollution is one of the areas of great concern for the agricultural sector today.”

It is caused by agricultural practices, mining, industries and urban development.

Unauthorised or illegal water abstraction was also a problem and the department was strengthening its enforcement capacity.


She said the capacity of the Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement Directorate (Blue Scorpions) had increased significantly, and that 14 water management inspectors had been recruited and trained.

In the 2009/10 financial year, the department had issued 239 directives, 31 of these were “resolved positively” and 14 were pending in court.

The others were in the process of being resolved.

“We will intensify this aspect of our work to ensure that we bring to book all offenders.”

Regulating water use
The minister urged farmers to regulate water use as it could run out.

“Without effective regulation, your water may dry up or the quality may deteriorate significantly.

“The department is very concerned about the impact of deteriorating water quality on our water resource and on agriculture.”

She said the agricultural industry shared concern about the impact of poorly managed sewage systems on the quality of water used for irrigation.

Sonjica said the discharge of waste or waste water into a stream may only be done if authorised by a water-use licence or authorisation.

The department had therefore developed the Green Drop certification programme to address challenges in the municipal waste-water sector.

“Currently we have more than 50 qualified assessors conducting consultative audits on the management of the waste-water treatment works.”

The 2009 Green Drop report found that 203 waste-water service systems out of the 449 (45%) assessed scored better than 50%, measured against the stringent set criteria. At least 7,4% of all waste-water systems were classified as “excellently managed”.

“We are well on our way to meeting the 2010 target of assessing 100% of the municipal waste-water treatment works.” — Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

‘Terrorised’ family shines a light on traditional leadership for vulnerable...

The ambiguity between traditional and constitutional leadership has been exposed by the violent banishment of an Eastern Cape family

Matrics fail at critical subjects

The basic education minister talks of quality passes achieved by the class of 2020, but a closer look at the results tells a different story

More top stories

Zulu land body challenges audit outcome

Ingonyama Trust Board chairperson Jerome Ngwenya has challenged the audit process in the face of a series of unfavourable ratings

The many faces of Idi Amin

Was he a joke, an oaf, a hero, or the evil dictator the West loved to hate? Decades after his death, his legacy is still a puzzle.

Review: Volvo XC40 is never intimidating

When you’re asked to drive 400km on a business trip, it really helps if you don’t have to do it in an old skorokoro. In this Volvo, it becomes a road trip to rival others.

Aliens in Lagos: sci-fi novel Lagoon offers a bold new...

Nnedi Okorafor’s ‘Lagoon’ is an immersive reimagining of Nigerian society that transports us into a future where queerness is normalised
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…