Dept issues notice to Magareng Municipality while DA says a criminal charge was opened as raw sewage was polluting the Vaal River and causing significant damage to the environment.
THE DEPARTMENT of Water and Sanitation has issued notices and directives to Magareng Local Municipality regarding effluent that is leaking from the Warrenton Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) that may contaminate water sources.
The spokesperson for the Department of Water and Sanitation, Sputnik Ratau, stated that there were recurring failures of the pump stations in Warrenton resulting in raw spillages entering the WWTW stream.
“This can pollute the water and needs to be stopped. Notices and directives have been issued to the local municipality. If there are recent spillages the department will investigate and enforce,” said Ratau.
Magareng DA councillor Willem Potgieter said a criminal charge was opened as raw sewage was polluting the Vaal River and causing significant damage to the environment.
“Four oversight inspections, between October 2020 and July 2021, have consistently exposed a deserted and stagnating plant. The only difference over the past year is the addition of a single security guard on the plant’s premises,” said Potgieter.
He stated that the plant had been out of commission for some time as large amounts of mud was stuck to the rotators.
“In October 2020, the municipal manager, Ellen Monch, indicated that she was aware of the situation at the plant and that she was busy arranging for quotations to do repairs and maintenance at the plant.
“Despite operations coming to a standstill, raw sewage continues to be dumped into the non-functioning dams at the plant, posing the risk of seepage into the Vaal River and creating a crisis for the health of Warrenton and the greater environment.
“Nine months later, Magareng Municipality has done nothing to remedy the situation. The municipality has neglected its duties in the repair and maintenance of the sewerage plant in terms of the environmental regulations.”
Magareng Municipality spokesperson Thapelo Jacobs attributed the disrepair of the plant to historical challenges, inadequate capacity of the plant, incorrect design (process flow) and wrong location of the plant.
“Given the magnitude of these historical challenges and the municipality’s financial position, we are unable to correct all these issues at once,” said Jacobs.
He added that the plant was vandalised and the pumps stolen during the 2020/’21 financial year while the plant was being refurbished.
“The WWTW has reached its design lifespan of operation and the major processing units are old and dilapidated. It needs total redesign of the process flow and replacement of the units. All these activities require huge financial resources, which the municipality does not have.”
Jacobs said they were in the process of appointing a service provider to conduct a feasibility study to assess the available options in relocating the Warrenton WWTW (in compliance with applicable laws) and the re-routing of bulk sanitation pipelines.
“This feasibility study will be used as a business case to motivate and source funding from sector departments and other institutions such as the Development Bank of South Africa.”