Parliament portfolio committee concerned about Mpumalanga sewerage spillages

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JOHANNESBURG, February 1 – Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation on Thursday said it was concerned by the state of Waste Water Treatment Works in Mpumalanga province’s Gert Sibande district municipality, which has resulted in hazardous spillages in streams and rivers in the area.

The committee said it has received information that none of the Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) in the district were fully functional. The problem has been exacerbated by the growing population and increased demand on the available infrastructure.

“It is unacceptable that raw sewer finds its way into the rivers, in particular, the Vaal River and the dams around the province,” said Mlungisi Johnson, the chairperson of the committee.

“At the Standerton WWTW, the malfunction of filters has resulted in untreated water finding its way into the Vaal river system.”

Johnson said the municipality cited the long procurement process as an impediment to dealing with some of the urgent challenges. “Furthermore, the rate of implementation of projects is disturbingly slow which must be looked into.”

The committee said it decries the sluggish intervention by all spheres of government in resolving such an environmental risk factor. It is the committee’s considered view that a piecemeal approach will not work in resolving the challenges faced by the district.

A comprehensive response is necessary to deal with this hazardous challenge.

Johnson said there is no sign of evidence-based planning happening at municipal level.

“The committee has encouraged the district municipality to reach out to Statistics South Africa to gather information that it can use for projection into the future.”

In Amersfoort, the committee learned that the township community is still using septic tanks which spill over when table water rises, especially during rainy season.

“It is totally unacceptable that our people are exposed to such raw sewage as part of their daily lives. This robs them of their dignity and must be resolved urgently,” said Johnson.

The committee said it has called for urgent solutions and collaborative efforts between the provincial departments of human settlements, cooperative governance and water and sanitation and the district municipality to unblock some of the identified blockages.

Johnson said the committee, which is in Mpumalanga on an oversight visit to assess the state of service delivery, has also nominated two members based in the province to assist the multi-sectoral team to come up with workable solutions.

– African News Agency (ANA)