Water Awareness Event – Wildevoelvlei

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 30 March 2011

Issued on behalf of: Liesel James: Founder of Little Green Fingers

On 26 March 2011 a Water Awareness Event focusing on a local issue took place at Blue Water Café, Imhoff’s Gift. The community of South Peninsula, City of Cape Town and Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) were invited to discuss the ongoing eutrophication causing toxicity in Wildevoel Vlei and insisting on finding a successful solution.

The blue-green bloom in December 2010. Locals were warned to keep their pets and visitors away from the water.

50 people including local residents, environmental organizations and volunteer groups attended.

The Wildevoelvlei wetlands form an integral part of the wetland systems in the Noordhoek Valley. Originally the vlei was seasonal and dried out over the summer months. Rainfall, groundwater seepage, stormwater run-off and spring tides regulated the water level.

In 1977, the Wildevoelvlei WWTW was commissioned and the vlei became a permanent water body due to the treated effluent being discharged into it.

Wally Peterson founder of Kommetjie Environmental Awareness Group (KEAG) who was previously involved in trying to resolve this problem gave a comprehensive history of Wildevoelvlei at the event.

He said, “WWTW was upgraded in 1996, but the development in the valley has way exceeded the expected population growth as predicted in the EIA. This placed WWTW under huge pressure through an increase of treated effluent entering the vlei, and through an increase in quantity and decrease in quality of the nonpoint stormwater run-off discharged into the vlei.” Continue reading

SA tap water could be undrinkable in 19 years

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 09 March 2011

Tap water in SA could be undrinkable in the next 19 years if the country does not change the way it uses water, or how it treats used water, scientists say.

Already, some of the tap water in SA contains poisons.

Blue-green algae produce toxins that rob water bodies of oxygen.

Poor quality water will negatively affect the economy, curbing the manufacturing sector directly and indirectly, says limnologist Bill Harding. Limnology is the study of freshwater bodies.

Despite Water Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica promising a turnaround in the parlous state of wastewater treatment almost a year ago, there has been no visible action taken to curb the risk from semi-treated water discharged into SA’s rivers and reservoirs, the scientists say.

Last year’s Green Drop (wastewater quality) report showed that only 32, or 3%, of SA’s estimated 850 wastewater treatment works complied with requirements for safe discharge. The report noted that only 449 of the works had been assessed, with the rest either ignoring, or being unable to comply with, the call to submit to scrutiny.

Only 32 (7%) complied with the Green Drop criteria after being measured for E. coli bacteria, nitrates, phosphates and ammonia and other nasties.

The national Green Drop Programme was launched in 2008 and was meant to cover all wastewater treatment works so as not to harm the water bodies into which they discharge their product. Continue reading

Dysfunctional Madibeng Sewage works polluting Crocodile River

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 30 July 2010

Statement issued by Annette Lovemore, MP, Democratic Alliance Shadow Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will be writing to the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs asking for a precise timetable on the establishment of special environmental courts to enable our legal system to deal with cases warranting special attention.

Polluted water from the Crocodile River flows into Hartebeespoort Dam

While the DA has been lobbying for these courts for some time, a definitive roll-out plan from the minister has become all the more urgent in light of the state of the Madibeng Sewage works which is releasing polluted water into the Crocodile River which flows into Hartebeespoort Dam, one of the principal water sources for many South Africans in the interior of the country.

Our water system is reliant on a complicated system of interconnected networks, the integrity of which need to all be maintained to the highest standards. Any weak component within that system needs to be addressed and those responsible need to answer for failing in their mandate as custodians of our natural resources.

The DA was part of a parliamentary water and environmental affairs portfolio committee visit to Madibeng that took place on 28th and 29th of July. A visit to the Madibeng sewage treatment works  revealed a deeply concerning lack of action, with officials admitting that the plant is so dysfunctional they might just as well switch off the pumps in the plant and allow raw sewage to flow into the already heavily polluted Crocodile River.

The committee was also told that the plant should be receiving approximately 18Ml of sewage per day, and is, in fact, receiving only 4 Ml/day. This means that approximately 14 Ml/day of raw sewage flows through the streets and into the river from the sorely neglected and failing pump stations throughout the area. Alarmingly, three of the pump stations that have failed are now discharging raw sewage into the river at the point where the drinking water supply is abstracted.

Five of the six senior positions in the directorate dealing with water and wastewater are vacant. There is not a single qualified person employed at the activated sludge plant in question.

The Crocodile River flows into the Hartebeespoort Dam – one of the most heavily eutrophied dams in the country, with an abundant growth of highly toxic algae. Continue reading

Water quality deteriorating fast warns MP

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 16 April 2010

“Your department has let South Africa down, and seriously so,” Democratic Alliance MP Annette Lovemore told Water Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica.

Lovemore, speaking during debate on the water affairs budget vote in the National Assembly, called on the minister to show “vital, critical and urgent leadership to address the current shocking level of mismanagement of our water resources”.

Excessive concentrations of nutrients stimulates algal growth resulting in the decrease of water quality and the emergence of harmful algal blooms.

Ground and surface water quality in South Africa was deteriorating fast, and people had died after drinking polluted water, she said.

“Animals in the Kruger National Park and ecosystems across the country are under threat. Tourism is compromised by the eutrophication of rivers and dams. Water treatment costs are escalating due to poor raw water quality.

“Farmers are unable to irrigate with polluted river water. The availability of water to sustain economic development and human and environmental health is diminishing. Opportunities are being seriously undermined,” Lovemore said.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa told MPs they were sitting on a time bomb. Continue reading