The country’s local governments are inundated by complaints about sewage as sewage freely leaks out somewhere in the country at any given moment, subsequently causing a major health risk to South Africans as well as water pollution. AfriForum branches all over the country receive complaints from despairing community members in this regard almost on a daily basis.
The department of environmental affairs recently provided the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee with its 2014 Green Drop Report, which highlights the conditions of South Africa’s sewage plants and infrastructure. The report has not yet been made public, however.
According to Marcus Pawson, AfriForum’s Head of Environmental Affairs, it is safe to assume that the 2014 report does not paint a pleasant picture of the country’s sewage situation. It can certainly not be acceptable to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to have received the 2014 report only in 2017. Moreover, the report was only released to the Committee – the rest of South Africa knows nothing of either the state of its sewage plants or the degree of pollution it causes as a result.
The Department had to pay back R827 million to Treasury in the 2015/2016 financial year, as these funds were not spent. It brings the total unspent funds over the last few years to more than R2 billion; this while an estimated 4 200 megalitre of raw sewage seep into our river systems every day as a result of 82% of the country’s sewage plants not adhering to applicable legislation and standards. AfriForum released this information at the recent Sewage and Wastewater Symposium held at Emperors Palace.
“For this reason, AfriForum had decided to annually conduct water (blue drop) and sewage test (green drop tests) as part of our watchdog function, and to compile a report on the basis of these tests. Tests are conducted in every town in which AfriForum has a branch to inform communities of the state and quality of their town’s drinking water, as well as the degree of pollution present, by way of credible and accepted methods,” says Pawson.
He emphasises that AfriForum will also put pressure on Government to make its report public.