The Department of Water and Sanitation has set aside more than R300 million to upgrade 26 dysfunctional waste water treatment plants in parts of Gauteng and the Free State.
This comes amid fears of untreated sewage flowing into the Vaal River, posing a serious threat to the environment.
In 2015, the department appointed an engineering and consultancy firm to determine if Refengkgotso Waste Water Treatment Plant in Deneysville contributed to pollution in the Vaal River.
According to the preliminary report released recently, Refengkgotso plant, which is managed by Metsimaholo Local Municipality, though originally designed to treat 2.0 mega litres per day, exceeded the capacity by more than 150% by the end of 2015.
The plant was receiving an average daily inflow of about 57 litres per second, which works out to about 5Ml/d, meaning that it was overloaded.
A technical analysis done on the infrastructure of the plant shows that the quarry where the non-compliant treated sewage was pumped is small.
However, the Metsimaholo Local Municipality undertakes regular maintenance on the facultative pond, two aerobic ponds, bio-filter tanks, humus tanks, maturation channels and sludge dry beds as they are in good conditions.
This and other events elsewhere resulted in an emergency intervention being launched by the department to repair 26 dysfunctional waste water treatment plant, through the allocation of about R300 million.
Addressing a media briefing during a visit at the Bothaville and Viljoenskroon Waste Water Treatment Plants in the Free State on Tuesday, the department's project manager in the Free State, Alfred Mbelu, said the department's intervention in refurbishing the 26 plants would have a socio-economic and environmental spin-offs on the Vaal River and would create jobs for locals.
Acting Chief Executive Officer for Vaal Catchment Management Agency, Dr Khononani Khorombi, said the Vaal River is a strategic water resource that supplied the economic hub of South Africa with water for economic development.
The river provided 60% of water to Gauteng and 40% to the country, making it the lifeblood of South Africa.
"Since the beginning of the year, we have met with municipal managers and technical directors from 18 local governments to get to the bottom of the pollution.
"In these meetings, we found that dysfunctional waste water treatment plants were at the heart of pollution of the Vaal. We intervened by taking samples of the polluted system and subsequently we put aside R320 million to address the problem," Khorombi said.
Minister Nomvula Mokonyane promised the mayors of affected municipalities that she would do something about the problem.
Director of Internal Control at the department, Mfanukhona Hlatshwayo, said: "The department would train technicians in the municipalities with a view to transfer skills to local governments to ensure proper management of treatment plants, after the completion of the project."
The refurbishment of all 26 plants is planned to be completed by December this year.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK