vaal river sewage
Vaal River Sewage filmed by Carte Blanche in 2018. In parts the river looks like a snowy Alaskan river... but this is scum foam from sewage permeating the Vaal River system.

South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) announced today that R911-million has been committed for the current 2020/21 financial year to help solve the Vaal River’s ongoing sewer spillage problem. The DWS said in a statement that it “strongly reaffirms its commitment to continue working with stakeholders to speed up the longstanding sewer pollution of the #VaalRiver”.

South Africans were shocked in 2018 by an expose on Carte Blanche of the Vaal River ‘drowning in sewage’ and posing a threat to 45% of Gauteng’s drinking water. At the time the broadcast was aired, crisis levels had been reached as raw sewage had been spilling onto land and into the river for up to three years already, with an e-coli level 500 times above the limit considered safe for human consumption, and a rise in dysentery amongst school children. Some land owners had had to sell their livestock as horses had been left sick and sheep had died.

Today the DWS announced the R911-million towards the sewage ‘challenge, as well as a total investment by the department for the year of R1.2-billion which will include the “building of additional wastewater treatment capacity and associated pump stations”.

The department said that it has recently finalised the scope of all that needs to be done to solve the sewer challenge.

In addition, 26 work packages will be advertised in the coming weeks for competent contractors to be part of solving the protracted sewer challenge, said the DWS.

“This means that the appointed contractors will be on the ground during festive season. Provided there are no community protests leading to work stoppages, and these have become more frequent in recent times, the department plans to launch module 6 in Sebokeng Water Care Works before the end of current financial year,“ said the DWS on Friday.

Sources – DWS, and Carte Blanche.