Water Crime

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------ Forwarded Message
From: "Morne Viljoen [HQP]" <Morne.Viljoen@consult-cls.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2008 14:00:17 +0200
To: <stywelyn@iafrica.com>, Trev <trev@tnsprint.co.za>, Venter Bernard <BVenter@justice.gov.za>, <elist@beeld.com>, <taem@lantic.net>, <johann.tempelhoff@nwu.ac.za>, <chiswv@puknet.ac.za>, HENK VILJOEN <henkv@tiscali.co.za>, <rkvdw@law.co.za>
Conversation: No Water Crisis in South Africa
Subject: No Water Crisis in South Africa

The government in the past also said that there is no electricity crisis…

No Water Crisis in South Africa
Media release by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
4 February 2008

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry would like to assure the South African public that there is no water contamination crisis in the country as reported in the Sunday Times, 03 February 2008. 
It is important to note that South Africa’s drinking Water ( tap water) quality is rated among the best in the world.

Furthermore, the department would like to clarify that the country’s ground water system is not under threat from waste water from mining operations and this is not in anyway jeopardising future water supply.  Action taken with regard to the Wonderfonteinspruit catchment area is detailed below.  
Wonderfonteinspruit Catchment Area

The Wonderfontein Action Group, consisting of all the mines in the catchment was established and had initiated actions to address the impact of mining related activities in the area.  After the National Nuclear Regulator’s (NNR) report on the matter was published further investigation was conducted in order to identify the key areas of concern and to highlight the most affected areas. Following this investigation the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry embarked on a process identifying appropriate clean-up scenarios.  Due to the environmental sensitivities in the Wonderfonteinspruit, the Regional Office of the Department also identified the need for continuous public participation that will be implemented prior to any steps taken to rectify the current situation.
The Department also conducted an investigation in order to ascertain the extent to which local communities rely directly on the Wonderfonteinspruit for access to water.  During the investigation, which included a 1 km corridor along the river, it was determined that approximately 950 people are directly affected.  The local authority has been informed of this investigation and of the fact that the affected community members should be provided with drinking water by the Water Services Authority (WSA), which is the Local Municipality.
Radio active contamination (action taken by DWAF)

Immediately after the Acid mine drainage started decanting into the Tweelopiespruit and Wonderfonteinspruit in 2004, the Department issued directives to the responsible mines to collect, contain and treat this water.
 In addition, the mines were required to reach an agreement in writing with regard to the liability of each mine and to apportion amongst themselves the costs of treatment, pumping, monitoring and any further investigations relating to the short, medium and long term management of this decant.
Short term emergency measures were put into place by Harmony Gold Mine and medium term measures are currently in place.  Investigations are also being conducted to address the longer term management of this water. 
An Environmental Impact Assessment was also conducted to determine the environmental impacts as a result of this AMD discharging into the Tweelopiespruit.
The immediate measures that were put in place included a collection system for decanting AMD, a containment dam, as well as partly refurbishing an old industrial processing plant which is utilised as an emergency AMD treatment plant.
The mines reached an agreement in writing as was required in the directive issued by the Department, for the apportionment of costs and for the long term treatment of the AMD.   A section 21 water utility company, the Western Basin Environmental Company (WBEC) was established to treat and manage the AMD in a long term financially sustainable manner. Current studies and investigations involve the construction of pilot plants, designing the final treatment plant that will be based on the results of the piloting studies and the construction and implementation of the final long term treatment plant.  The long term treatment plant is expected to be operational within the next three years.
Dam safety

In order to address the backlog resulting from lack of maintenance in the past, the Department initiated a Dam Safety Rehabilitation Programme (DSRP) in April 2005. National Treasury approved R1,25 Billion over a period of five financial years, starting from 1 April 2006, specifically to address the infrastructure maintenance needs of dams.  Dams were prioritised and 42 projects are currently between the planning and construction phases. Work on the other dams will be phased in later. 
For more information contact;
Linda Page
Media Liaison
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
Tel: (012) 336 8250

Cell: 083 460 4482

Response to the Sunday Times Article
Media Release by Mrs LB Hendricks, Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry
4 February 2008

The Sunday Times on 3 February 2008 presents a gloomy picture of the state of water in South Africa and says that we are facing a water crisis similar to that of electricity. Fortunately we are not. 
While the article raises a number of concerns - most of which are in the public domain, what they do not do is outline all the measures and responses taken by my Department to addressing these issues.  South Africa still maintains one of the best quality tap water in the world; and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry monitors and works closely with the municipalities that supply the water to households to ensure clean drinking water.  We have for a few years now established electronic monitoring systems that produce reports on drinking water quality, and the information from these reports allows us to make rapid interventions where problems do arise.
The article lists challenges with the state of the dams in South Africa.  I have in response to a question in Parliament given a comprehensive assessment of what needs to be done, where it needs to be done and the extensive budget of over R1.2 billion that has been allocated to addressing the infrastructure maintenance needs of the dams.
The issues contained in the report by the National Nuclear Regulator are of concern to us and we have publicly stated we are addressing them; however one should be careful in extrapolating an issue that affects 1km of a river and directly impacts on 950 people as something that impacts on the water quality of 48 million people.
What is more concerning for my Department, and should be for all South Africans, is that there are still companies as well as municipalities that pollute or allow the pollution of our water resources.  As we strengthen our institutions so we will be in a better position to ensure that this pollution is stopped or these polluters are forced to pay the clean up costs.  The acid mine drainage referred to in the article has been dealt with comprehensively and the mines in question have been co-operating with us to address this problem.
South Africans can rest assured that we do not have a ‘water crisis’ resulting from poor planning; our planning systems are strong and have looked at future water needs, however, we cannot allow that comfort to lead to inaction.  Water should be a concern for all South Africans.  Our country is in a water scarce region and no matter how many dams we build - if it does not rain there will be nothing to fill up those dams and we will have to implement forced water conservation measures like in the 1980’s when our country experienced a seven year drought.  We must all be water-wise and conserve and protect our scarce water resources. 
In co-operation with eight municipalities we are running a pilot programme on water conservation.  The impact of this pilot programme could result in water savings of at least 15% in these municipalities, and if successful the programme will be expanded. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry also has a contact centre for people to call to alert us of water leaks, our contact number is 0800 200 200. We are seeking to create a culture of Water Conservation and Water Demand Management in South Africa so that all citizens see it as their national duty to save and conserve water.
Because of the limited availability of water in our country we have a system of issuing water licenses to users (including large scale users and farmers).  There are unfortunately unscrupulous individuals who are illegally using water and putting their neighbours and downstream users at risk. These people along with the polluters must be stopped from engaging in these activities so that we can ensure security of supply of water now and into the future.
Saving and conserving water will also have added benefits for the country, because by reducing the amount of water we use we are also saving electricity, as it takes a large amount of energy to pump water.
‘Water is life – protect our scarce resources’





Trevor Babich


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