South Africa: Water Dept Acts to Fix Water Challenges in North West

26 November 2020

The Department of Water and Sanitation has met with the officials of Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality, as a follow up to the court order issued by the North West High Court on 10 September 2020.

The court order instructed the municipality to properly manage the Vryburg waste water treatment works (WWTW), to take remedial steps to stop pollution of water resources, as well as to ensure that raw sewage is not discharged in the streets of Hududi township in Vryburg and at Rosendal Farm.

Since 2017, the Department of Water and Sanitation has been receiving complaints of raw sewage flowing in the streets of Naledi Local Municipality, which is under Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality.

The complaints were caused by the blockages of sewage pipelines, as well as the malfunctioning waste water treatment works situated in Vryburg town.

The raw sewage spillage has also affected the nearby farms and also polluted the adjacent Blesbok Spruit tributary.

The department's Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement Unit conducted several inspections in the area, and issued several directives in terms of Sections 19 (3) and 53 (1) of the National Water Act, but the conditions remained the same.

This led to a court order being granted against the municipality to take remedial steps to stop pollution and fix overflowing manholes in Huhudi and rehabilitate the affected areas.

The municipality was also ordered to immediately cease their usage of furrows to direct the flow of raw sewage.

The department has previously provided R80 million towards the upgrade and delivery of water and sanitation services at the local and district municipalities.

A company was appointed by the Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality to operate and manage the Vryburg WWTW.

However, it was observed that the final effluent discharged into Blesbokspruit is not properly treated and sewage spillages in Huhudi township were also persisting.

It was also observed that a trench or a furrow was dug to channel the raw sewage into the open environment, which may cause health hazards for the community.

These incidents have proven that Dr Ruth Segomotsi District Municipality failed to comply with the directives issued by the department, and has also failed to abide by the court order issued.

Chief Director of Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement at the department, Siboniso Mkhaliphi, said they have done their administrative enforcement processes and are now doing inspections to ensure that the municipality has complied with the court order.

"We have committed in our discussions with the municipality manager that they will provide us with an action plan with timeframes.

"We will then interrogate the plan and determine the course of action from here. However, we have noticed that there are areas that need improvement from our site inspections and that is a serious cause of concern for us," Khaliphi said.

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