Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Day 3 of the HRC Vaal River Inquiry continues, and today we had researchers who spoke to the commission

Community Alerts/Mduduzi Tshabalala/VEJA-Vaal/27/09/2018

Dr. Victor Munik presented to the commission on the research work he did together with counterparts, and one of the stemming issues raised was the Green Drop campaign which. Munik started with VEJA back in 2008, and the purpose of the campaign was to assess the management systems and functionality of the Waste Water Treatment plants in local municipalities. The progressive of environmental justice activism saw the collapsing of the Green Drop campaign being compromised by the inter-ministerial interventions.

Prof. J Templehoff from the North West University in the Vaal Campus spoke about the historic significance of the Vaal River, and that industrial development started on the Vaal River corridor as early as 1900, and today the Vaal River is supplying more than 20 million people in South Africa through the Vaal Dam and Lesotho highlands scheme. The Vaal Dam was constructed in 1938 solely for the purpose of feeding the industrial hub, and with the increase of population influx the local municipality is incapable of managing waste water in treatment plants, which therefore in a result the Vaal River is vehicle to carrying pollution impacts sending it down to Bloemhom Dam as one of the mahor recipients of the Vaal River residues with estimation of 910million kg of sewer residue per annum. Therefore the historic negative impacts dates as far as 100 yrs back. Prof Templehoff emphasised about “We need to start simulating what nature is doing, the wetlnds are a good example to learn from, in order to develop what is Scial Ecological Systems, and break free from the ways and orders of the past” he said. In conclusion Prof Templehoff mentioned that “the social ecological systems of governance in South Africa have failed in 2018 thus far, are we in the right track or in chaos of disorder”?

Mariette Liefferink from the Federation for Sustainable Environment presented to the commission about the mining impacts and law enforcement within the Vaal River system. Her opening remarks were that “the role of government spheres in the water sector is to protect; prevent and rehabilitate not only the symptoms but inculded starting with the causes factors”. Marriete told the commission that salinity has to be treated from the source point, instead of allowing it to flow into the river system for dialution, because it adds up residues that are suspended and as a result there is increased deficit of a degrading environment. “Metals dont disappear when diluted but they turn into other solubles suspended in the Vaal River System” she said. “The DWS is not ignorant as custodians for they have developed what is Water Quality Management Policy, despite many other related water management policies and are failing, simply because there was no water quality monitoring of AMD between 2013 and 2016, and without monitoring there is no proper management”. Marriete demonstrated the historic results of e-coli in the Rietspruit catchment and the number of counts have escalated since 2007.