Sewage polluting SA farmlands
17 November 2010 Leave a comment
Ventersdorp farmers lay criminal charges against Ventersdorp municipality for illegal sewage-dumping; water-purification expert Willem Cooks sues Parys municipality over toxic pollution of drinking water piped to Parys, Vredefort, Bothaville, Bloemhof, Christiana, Leeudoringstad, Viljoenskroon and Wolmaransstad… From Brits and Magaliesburg, millions of tons of raw sewage and toxic mine-water are polluting the crucial Hartbeespoort Dam and the entire Limpopo River basin… and the once so hardy crocodiles of the Kruger National Park are still dying in the Olifants River…
Raw sewage dumped in Schoonspruit, Elandskuil Dam pollutes boreholes, food-crops, poultry for supermarkets… farmers warn
2010-11-17 VENTERSDORP. Susan Cilliers writes in Beeld newspaper that farmer Johan Bester has laid a criminal charge of illegal sewage dumping against the Ventersdorp municipality.
Area farmers and supermarkets warn that the water in the Schoonspruit and even the borehole-water has become so polluted that crops and poultry from the area are dangerously contaminated with harmful bacteria.
Bester said that supermarkets have warned farmers that they can no longer buy chickens from their farms – unless the dangerous bacteria levels in the irrigation water are reduced. (similar conditions also exist around Parys: story below🙂
Bester showed reporters two places near Ventersdorp on Tuesday where untreated sewage-waste formed filthy, smelly pools because the town’s two sewerage pump stations were “often not working”.Sewage then cannot be pumped to the treatment plant and it forms dams, and then seeps into the Schoonspruit.
’Farming will have to stop if the sewage-dumping continues…’
“The Schoonspruit is the main source of many water schemes that provide water for irrigation, people, animals and industry – up and as far as Bloemhof,” said Bester. Untreated sewage also flowed into the Elandskuil Dam due to the municipality’s “poor service delivery and irresponsibility”.
Bester feared that should the sewage dumping continue, farming activities in the area will have to stop completely.”It looks as though borehole water on farms has been polluted. I became aware of the problem when I saw how awful my water looked: so bad that my cattle don’t want to drink it at times.”
Bester represents a group of farmers who have formed an action group opposing planned town development in the vicinity of the sewage pump station in Ventersdorp.
- They ask that the land should rather be made available to farmers so that they can, through private initiatives, set up a better sewerage system and are able to grow feed in the area. The group are considering launching an article 21 company. “In this way, jobs will be created and feed will be provided for farmers while we also protect the area’s ecology.”
The ‘’ acting municipal manager’ Gideon Moremedi complained that ‘people are vandalising the pump stations.’ He was “aware of the charge that had been laid” and confirmed that ‘the sewage pump stations only worked on occasion,” adding: “we have instructed a company to clean out the sewage pipes because objects in them cause the pump stations to stop working.” “People also vandalise the pump stations. We still want to build a pump station for the town which can be used when the existing pump stations aren’t working.” http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Sewage-polluting-farmlands-farmers-say-20101117
- Concerns about SA’s water quality
- Acid water plan due in December
- R3bn for water infrastructure
- SA in race against toxic mine water
- Experts to tackle water crisis
- Action over sewage pollution
- Parys to stop Vaal sewage leak?
- More than 86% of all SA sewage plants are ‘non-functional’
- SA sewage standards ‘poor ‘– report
- Crocodiles dying off in the Olifants River due to widespread pollution warns Parks Board
- National Toxicity Control Programme
1-million e-coli bacteria per 100ml of water measured at Parys sewerage outlet:
Johan Brits of Volksblad writes that pensioned-off water-purification expert Willem Cooks, 71, of Gouws Street in Parys is suing the local ANC-run municipality; he fears for the health of residents as the disfunctional sewerage plant causes dangerous pollution in the drinking water with the toxic disease-causing Escherichia coli. http://www.volksblad.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Bejaarde-wil-hof-toe-oor-vuil-water-20101115
————Picture: Water-purification expert Willem Cooks, 71, with the water-filters he installed a year ago inside his own home to filter the reticulated municipal water again: the filthy goop is loaded with toxic bacteria – and this is the ‘safe drinking water’ which the disfunctional water-purification plant in Parys delivers to all the local residents. The municipality on September 17 2010 was served with a court order by the High Court in Bloemfontein against the “Ngwathe” municipality. Judge Molemela ordered the ANC-municipality to “stop the deliberate sewage spillage into the Vaal River that has been occurring unabated for some time”. http://www.save.org.za/happenings/news_popup8.html
SAVE experts recently measured one-million parts of e-coli bacteria per 100ml of water in the Vaal river outlet from the Parys municipality sewarage plant. SAVE’s officials were denied access to the Parys water-purification plant after they warned that ‘clean water was being pumped into the river in the daytime and dirty, untreated water at night’.
Cooks says he’s “fighting-ready to deal with the person in charge of that water-purification plant. I will not remain silent.’ He showed Volksblad the incredible filth he’d filtered out with his two water-purification filters which he installed in his own home, to re-filter the ‘clean’ reticulated water from the municipal plant. He has two filters: one to clean the water with before it goes into the boiler-system and the second one to purify the water used in the kitchen. Within a year, the filters showed ‘very thick, brown filthy layers of pollution.
“If the filters look like this after they had filtered supposedly clean reticulated water coming from the municipality, I am very worried about the health of all the people in Parys. Not everybody can afford to install their own filters. And why do taxpayers have to spend even more money when their rates already are supposed to pay for a water-reticulation system from the municipality? I am supposed to receive clean water. Consumers should not have to clean their own water,’ he said.
He says that even after the water has gone through the home-filters, ‘it still reeks as if there’s a dead mouse in the water…’ Cooks has 40 years of experience in working with water- and sewerage installations. He has worked at water-purification plans in many municipalities. He lays the blame for the dangerously filthy water of Parys squarely on the so-called “Ngwathe-municipality’s disfunctional water-purification plant. He said there is ‘an extraordinarily high concentration of ferrichloride in the drinking water because the plant is disfunctional.
Save the Vaal river – waging a desperate struggle
Cooks is not alone in his complaints: the ngo SAVE THE VAAL (SAVE) also recently revealed that the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry had from last year started writing to the municipality with written warnings specific sewerage-installations were not in working order, and that they had to be repaired and maintained urgently.
- Officials will be imprisoned as criminals:
- Said SAVE in a statement: “We will no longer tolerate this type of conduct by Ngwathe municipality. We will now seek to imprison those officials who disregard the court order. Last year, the Johannesburg High Court ordered the Emfuleni municipality to cease a similar practice. River users are tired of empty promises by municipalities and Ngwathe’s total disregard for our health by allowing dirty, untreated water to run into the Vaal River and then that very water is used as a basic commodity by communities, including the Parys community. There are communities who are dependant on the river water for their primary water use and Ngwathes’s total disregard for these people’s basic right to clean water is criminal conduct that must now be addressed in the criminal courts”…
Since the warnings by the government nothing was done – and the raw sewerage has since April 2009, been pouring directly into the local spruit (stream) leading to the Vaal River. On 19 October 2010, the Department delivered a final ultimatum to the municipality to fix the problem under Section 19 of the Water Act.
Officials from SAVE were barred from accessing the water-purification plant – shortly after testing at the outlets in Parys showed dangerously high e-coli levels of 10-million parts per 100ml water. E-coli bacterii come from the gut of humans and animals.
Drinking water is not allowed, by law, to contain ANY e-coli bacteria and a river should never contain more than 1000 units per 100ml of water to make it safe for humans and animals to drink. The ‘Ngwathe’ municipality meanwhile has refuses all comment http://www.volksblad.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Bejaarde-wil-hof-toe-oor-vuil-water-20101115
“… it came to SAVE’s attention that the Ngwathe (Parys) municipality was pumping raw sewage into the Vaal River. This criminal conduct causes unlawful pollution of the Vaal River. Recently, when a SAVE Parys committee member did a random inspection at the Ngwathe waste water works, it became apparent that clear water was being let into the River during the day but raw sewage was being pumped into the Vaal River at night.
This conduct prompted SAVE to approach the High Court to interdict Ngwathe/Parys from committing this criminal offence and to stop killing fish and bird life.
- Communities such as Parys, Vredefort, Bothaville, Bloemhof, Christiana, Leeudoringstad, Viljoenskroon and Wolmaransstad all draw water supplies from the Vaal River. Sewage in water is highly dangerous to human health – a fact well know to the general public and municipal officials as a result of it being spelt out in past court applications and the media and which fact is by now common knowledge to all South Africans who followed the Zimbabwean disaster.
The disgraceful conduct of Ngwathe by surreptitiously pumping it’s excess sewage into the Vaal at night must immediately cease. Today, judge Molemela ordered the practice to stop by no later than 24 September 2010 and also ordered Ngwathe Municipality to take steps to properly maintain its sewage works in order to ensure that there is no overflow or spillage from the sewage works into the Vaal River.
SAVE chairman, Lötter Wepener and SAVE Parys chairperson Annalien Burger, said that SAVE will not rest until Ngwathe ceased pumping raw sewage into the Vaal River and also until Ngwathe ensures that the effluent which it pumps into the Vaal River complies with the Department of Water Affair’s standards.
‘We will no longer tolerate this type of conduct by Ngwathe” Wepener and Burger said. “We will now seek to imprison those officials who disregard the court order. Last year, the Johannesburg High Court ordered the Emfuleni Municipality to cease a similar practice.
“River users are tired of empty promises by municipalities and Ngwathe’s total disregard for our health by allowing dirty, untreated water to run into the Vaal River and then that very water is used as a basic commodity by communities, including the Parys community”, Wepener and Burger said. “There are communities who are dependant on the River water for their primary water use and Ngwathes’s total disregard for these people’s basic right to clean water is criminal conduct that must now be addressed in the criminal courts”.
“River users who hailed the court order expressed dismay that it was once again necessary to go to court to compel a municipality to properly maintain its waste water treatment plants and to stop polluting the Vaal River.
We will continue to do water tests (at great cost to ourselves) in weeks and months to come and promise further action by SAVE should we find that Ngwathe continues to disregard the right of the public to a clean River”, Wepener and Burger said.
“. . . “SAVE will now be employing a team of experts to compile a comprehensive report in order assist us to imprison the guilty parties. 17 October 2010 Contact Lötter Wepener (Chair; SAVE) 082 552 4714 http://www.save.org.za/happenings/news_popup8.html
Also: the dangerously polluted Crocodile/Limpopo river basin:
Crocodiles dying in the Kruger National Park
From May 2008, crocodiles in the Olifants River gorge in the Kruger National Park suddenly started sickening and dying, with a mortality rate of 20 crocodiles per week reached during June and July. A total 170 crocodile carcasses were recorded by late November 2008. Post mortems revealed yellow-orange coloured, hardened fat in the tails and abdomen – a condition known as pansteatitis. Researchers analysed water, sediments, fish and crocodile tissue samples for potential toxins and chemical compounds at laboratories, both locally and around the world, and found many heavy metals, agricultural pesticides, fertilizers, organic waste and persistent organic pollutants – however in 2008, none of these were found to be above the levels “where adverse effects could be expected” and were therefore not individually responsible for poisoning the crocodiles. The Consortium for the Restoration of the Olifants Catchment (CROC) was set up to find a clear cause-effect relationship. This found that the crocodiles’ die-offs were ‘symptomatic of serious and growing environmental problems in the Olifants River system… http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/news/2009/crocodile_deaths.php
National Toxicity Control programme: http://www.dwaf.gov.za/iwqs/water_quality/ntmp/index.htm