The Sedibeng Regional Sanitation Scheme was supposed to protect the Vaal River but shifting responsibility may have allowed pollution to continue
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has made another written submission to the South African Human Right Commission’s inquiry into the pollution of the Vaal River.
“OUTA’s submission is intended to aid the Commission in its inquiry into whether the state of the Vaal River violates or threatens human rights including environmental rights in terms of section 24 of the Constitution,” says Yamkela Ntola, OUTA’s Water and Environment Portfolio Manager.
OUTA recommends that the Commission investigates the Sedibeng Regional Sanitation Scheme (SRSS) project.
The SRSS was initiated by Emfuleni Local Municipality following an assessment of the status of the sewer infrastructure. It aimed at addressing the following challenges:
• The spillage of raw sewage in to the Vaal River;
• The discharge of non-compliant effluent into the Vaal River;
• The likely environmental and health effects of that pollution;
• The affect on economic and socio-economic growth in the region; and
• The high maintenance costs and frequent failures of the old sanitation infrastructure.
The project aimed to expand the capacity of the waste-water treatment plants in Sebokeng and Meyerton. This included reducing the spillage of raw sewage into the Vaal River.
OUTA has drawn the Commission’s attention to the fact that the national Department of Water and Sanitation stopped the project from being implemented by Emfuleni Local Municipality in 2012 and put in place Rand Water as the implementing agent.
OUTA thus recommends that the Commission:
• Assesses how the suspension and transfer of the SRSS from Emfuleni to Rand Water may have contributed towards pollution in the Vaal;
• Assesses the legality of the suspension and transfer of the project;
• Assesses how the removal of the SRSS from Emfuleni and other relevant municipalities adversely affected the operation and maintenance of sewerage networks, particularly those networks that contribute to pollution in the Vaal; and
• Requests audited and verified reports from Rand Water on the progress of the SRSS, with an indication of the extent to which such progress has reduced pollution in the Vaal.