The inaction of the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation, as well as the Chris Hani District Municipality in remedying the constant flow of raw sewage into the Great Fish River has now reached crisis proportions.
It has been more than a week since I wrote to the Green Scorpions to intervene and investigate the flow of untreated wastewater into the Great Fish River. This is caused by the total shutdown of the wastewater treatment plant near Cradock in the Inxuba Yethemba Local Municipality. (letter attached)
The leakage of untreated sewage – which present a human health, environmental and economic crisis as a result of pollution – was also, more than a week ago, confirmed by the Department of Water and Sanitation.
In spite of my letter to the Green Scorpions and the admission of the crisis by the Department, no steps have been taken to remedy the situation.
The Department has issued, over the past couple of months, many directives to the Chris Hani District Municipality ordering them to remedy the situation, but these have fallen on deaf ears.
Given the significance of the Great Fish River and the vital role it plays in the irrigation of hundreds of thousands of hectares of agricultural land, the discharge of raw, untreated sewage into this river is both a looming ecological and economic disaster.
Even more disturbing is the fact that a number of settlements lower down the river have no choice but to draw water for human consumption directly from the Fish, given the severe drought that has crippled our region.
I have written to the Minister of Humans Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, calling upon her and the Department to urgently intervene and within the next seven days:
- Immediately launch an court application to compel the District Municipality to rectify the situation;
- Publicly release all data from the water samples taken from the Great Fish;
- Provide the necessary assistance and information to all local authorities and farming communities who draw water from the Great Fish for human consumption and irrigation.
Local residents are risking their lives drinking water from the river. Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right and if no satisfactory feedback is received from the Department within 7 days, I will escalate the matter to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for further investigation and action.
Retief Odendaal MPL
DA EC Midlands Constituency Leader
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