Comment from the webmaster;
The authorities are hell bent on promoting tourism as part of the job creation project. Are they so dumb that they do not realise that South Africa will gain adverse international media coverage once water born diseases start breaking out in the country. This will scare the living daylights out of prospective tourists and they will simply not visit South Africa.
All the millions being spent on promoting tourism will be wasted. Methinks it may even lead to the 2010 World Soccer Cup being moved elsewhere as has already been suggested by some overseas critics, albeit for other reasons.
It looks like some the authorities responsible who run the sewage systems are not even capable of running a bath.
Is our Minister of health so busy promoting the eating of garlic that she does not realise the implications on the country of water born diseases? Read On - Trevor
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From: Morne Viljoen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2006 08:41:20 +0200
To: <email@example.com>, Bernard Venter <BVenter@justice.gov.za>, razor-spike <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Elise Tempelhoff <email@example.com>, Elise Tempelhoff <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Eugene Kruger <email@example.com>, OutdoorPAGES - South Africa's Nr1 Outdoor Resource <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Trevor Babich (Fishingowl)" <email@example.com>
Subject: National sewage crisis a 'ticking time bomb'
National sewage crisis a 'ticking time bomb'
Melanie Gosling (iol.co.za)
June 21 2006 at 04:22AM
South Africa's underfunded, badly managed sewage works in many towns are "ticking timebombs" that could lead to outbreaks of waterborne diseases, while drinking water in many rural towns fails to meet government health standards.
These were some of the startling submissions made to parliament's water affairs portfolio committee on Tuesday on the first of two days of public hearings on water quality.
The committee heard that a national survey by the Water Research Commission last year found that almost 30 percent of the country's sewage works needed urgent intervention "to avoid a crisis" like an outbreak of waterborne diseases, while 66 percent required short- to medium-term attention.
Another survey found that two-thirds of municipalities did not know it was their job to treat drinking water before supplying it to the public.
The committee heard submissions that in many cases officials in charge of drinking water quality were poorly paid and some had no training at all.
Grant Mackintosh, managing director of Emanti, a water and environmental engineering services company, told the committee many municipalities budgeted on average only R4 000 a year for the treatment of drinking water, whereas they needed at least R300 000 a year to maintain the national health standards.
"That's the size of the gap - and it's pretty widespread," Mackintosh said.
The World Health Organisation considered drinking water quality to have the biggest impact on primary health care.
Mackintosh said although there had been significant efforts, under the National Water Quality Draft Framework, to tackle water quality issues, there was a widespread lack of understanding of the matter at municipal level.
"At one municipality we had a meeting with the councillors, the technical staff, the executive mayor, the municipal manager, and found they all had a significant lack of awareness of the importance of drinking water quality," Mackintosh said.
"The financial director said: 'Wow, I didn't realise chlorine was such an important thing.' Chlorine was one of the things at the bottom of the budget if he had any money left over."
A survey of the sewage works in the Free State last year found that 51 percent did not function properly and were discharging sewage into the environment.
At one rural sewage works, there was no fencing and children swam in the sewage ponds.
Gerhard Offringa, of the Water Research Commission, told the committee that while water quality in South Africa's urban areas was among the best in the world, this was not the case in rural areas.
The commission had carried out extensive research on the problems and remedies for maintaining drinking water quality and had given the findings to municipalities, but it did not have a mandate to implement these.
"What (municipalities) do with the research is a bit of a problem... nothing has happened yet," Offringa said.
Research showed only 50 percent of water treatment plants in the Western Cape and 49 percent in the Eastern Cape complied with Department of Water Affairs standards for bacteria, compared with 100 percent in the Free State, 95 percent in Mpumalanga, 78 percent in North West, 67 percent in Limpopo, and 67 percent in KwaZulu-Natal.
Offringa said the reason for the Free State's high compliance was a programme, under the province's local government and housing department, in which teams of experts visited rural municipalities to help with water quality problems.
Offringa said there was little interest by rural councillors and managers in water quality, little money budgeted for equipment and none for maintenance, plants were overloaded, and labs and officials' skills inadequate.
Morné ViljoenNatural Resources Law Department
(W) (011) 886-4628
(F) (011) 886-4452