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Raw sewage spillage in DBP unresolved since 2016


13 September 2022

Raw sewage flowing into living areas is also a major health hazard, The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) stated.

What was initially touted to be modern, safe and secure living, has turned to a sewage-soaked headache, with both new home owners, and residents in Autumn Ridge, Camden-and President Fouchè Avenues, Mauritz Read, Harold Edges and Mel Mentz Streets, all being at the end of their patience. The once-flagship security village project, Autumn Ridge, is rife with residents hot under the collar due to the constant stench of raw sewage. “They just keep building and building, but they don’t finish what they start. If a drain is blocked, we have to wait days, sometimes weeks, and even months for the municipality to assist us, if they ever do. In many cases, we have to make a plan ourselves, because the municipality never arrives. We have to think of our health and the health of our children,” one complex resident lamented. It is evident that the aged and dilapidated sewerage network in this area quite simply can not handle the influx of sewage and wastewater produced by the ever-growing number of houses. What one can only assume to be poor town planning from the municipality has now created a ever-expanding issue of environmental pollution. Alas, the municipality simply ignores these specific overflows, which ave been ongoing since 2015, and reported by numerous residents in this area in August 2016.

At the time, the Tribune visited the site, which already showed evidence of overload, and since then, the residences have multiplied exponentially, without infrastructure provision being made by the municipality. Upon visiting the site in 2022, the environmental impact and pollution from these sewage overflows are simply flabbergasting. There are at least four overflow sites that could be noted in the vicinity of Camden Avenue, with more being visible in the distance. The sheer amount of raw sewage is shocking to behold, a stench to choke on. The Vaal River, a source of water for approximately 19 million South Africans, has been slated as polluted “beyond acceptable levels”, impacting on natural ecosystems and endangering the people's health. Raw sewage flowing into living areas is also a major health hazard, The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) stated. However, the issue of MLM’s blatant disregard of environmental impact is no news. In 2014, Municipal Manager at the time, Mr M.W. Zungu, the Head of the Water Department, Mr B. van der Merwe, and the Director of Technical Services, Mr S. Magudulela, received a summons, whilst performing in their capacity as managers of Msukaligwa Local Municipality, in connection to blocked and overflowing sewage sites. Almost all of these sites, including the spillages near the Pet Dam, to this very day, still overflows into the Pet Dam and surrounding water bodies. In 2014, it was estimated that the spillages deposits a quantity of >1 000 000 E. Coli per 100ml of water. Currently, the situation has greatly increased in severity.

The fact that, in terms of the National Water Act, 36 of 1998, as read with the National Environmental Act, 107 of 1998, the pollution of a water resource is a criminal offence, the municipality pays no heed. With brazen nonchalance, MLM had recently dug trenches to redirect the constant sewage spillage in President Fouché towards the middle of the field, in an attempt to make the overflow less noticeable. To date, the municipality has failed to provide reasoning behind this, despite various enquiries by the Tribune. More laughable is the fact that the municipal manager at the time, is no longer serving the municipality. Unfortunately, the fact that scores of “acting” municipal officials trot through the municipal service delivery system doorways, leaves nobody in charge to take responsibility for the disasters left behind.

However, this is of little comfort to residents in this area, as well as the local school, who have to suffer in the unsanitary environment and gagging stench, day in, and day out. This overflow, coupled with a myriad of other spillages, connect directly to the Klein Drinkwater stream. This stream flows through several farms an small holdings, to eventually contaminate the Vaal River with thousands of kiloliters of raw sewage each month.

See more photos and a video on our Facebook page, Tribune Ermelo.

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