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The Polluters Of Hartbeespoort Dam
Article by Helen Duigan
Hitting the Polluters
For months, from late July, Joburg Water polluted the Jukskei-Crocodile Rivers by releasing sewage directly from Northern Wastewater Treatment Works into these water courses which feed Hartbeespoort Dam.
As the reality of the continual sewage flows hit home - and the river flowed dark, dirty and stinking, day after day - anger rose. A petition was begun with one aim: hold the responsible authorities accountable for this damage.
Photo: Sludge flowing from Northern Works through the Steyn City fence to the Jukskei.
More than 400 people along the river and in the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy signed the petition which was went to 30 officials in Joburg Water and the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), 15 media and 16 NGOs in late October.
The Green Scorpions and Joburg Water responded promptly, the latter with a planned roll-out of actions to address the pollution. DWS took two reminders to elicit a response.
Responding on 4 November, Etienne Hugo, Acting Chief Operations Officer of Joburg Water, said: "Sewage spills for Northern Wastewater Treatment Works are due to frequent operational failures as a result of ageing infrastructure, continuous power failures due to vandalism and theft of cables and limited emergency storage capacity in the Emergency Retention Dams due to silting up over the years."
He outlined a series of actions over the coming few months, starting with plugging effluent leaks. He suggested a meeting in late November to present Joburg Water’s plans and their impacts in detail. The Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy will alert as many people as possible affected by the pollution once the meeting date is fixed.