The department had warned that legal action will be taken against the municipality should it not comply within the 10-day period
THE SHOCKING inaction of Sol Plaatje Municipality in preventing environmental pollution and the spillage of raw sewage into Kamfers Dam has been exposed, after the local authority was given a 10-day deadline by the provincial Department of Water and Sanitation to take the necessary steps to address the malfunctioning Homevale Waste Water Treatment Plant and the leaking Gogga Pump Station.
Since the last directive was issued by the national Department of Water and Sanitation last year, another three months have passed without any steps being taken to protect the wildlife, birds and habitat around the dam.
City residents are meanwhile continuing to suffer from blocked drains, sewage that is overflowing in their yards and the unbearable stench oozing from the drains.
The provincial Department of Water and Sanitation, in a directive dated last month, instructed the acting municipal manager at Sol Plaatje Municipality, Ruth Sebolecwe, and the compliance manager, Sabelo Mkize, to stop the uncontrolled flow of raw sewage into the environment from manholes, pump stations and the wastewater treatment plant in the municipal district.
The municipality has been instructed to provide the department with an action plan on how it plans to address the spillages as well as to provide short-, medium- and long-term measures, along with cost estimates, to prevent raw sewage from entering the city’s water resources.
The department had warned that legal action will be taken against the municipality should it not comply within the 10-day period.
Sol Plaatje Municipality was expected to appoint an independent environmental consultant to compile and submit a rehabilitation plan for approval by the department for all areas affected by the continuous spillage of raw sewage.
The recommendations of the rehabilitation plan are expected to be implemented within 30 days of receipt of the directive.
The rehabilitation plan must address the ailing infrastructure, identify the skills, technical capacity and funding needed to prevent recurring sewage discharges and environmental pollution.
According to correspondence, the municipality had over the years failed to take the necessary steps to remedy the problem.
“Despite upgrades at the Homevale Waste Water Treatment Plant and waste conveyance infrastructure, there are continuous discharges from pump stations and manholes.”
Notice was sent to Sol Plaatje Municipality as far back as November 2015, where the national Department of Water Affairs had advised that the spillages from the Gogga Pump Station be rectified.
Representations submitted by Sol Plaatje Municipality in response to the problem, were found to be “unsatisfactory and incomplete”.
The Department of Water and Sanitation found that the municipality was “unable to foresee and evaluate the risk of infrastructure failure, the efforts to repair and replace infrastructure and mitigation of spillages”.
Sol Plaatje Municipality submitted an action plan with reference to the Gogga Pump Station, dated March 1 2018, while on October 24 2018 another notice was issued from the national department to repair spillages from the pump station and manholes in the Homevale area.
On August 17 2018, an audit was conducted at the Homevale Waste Water Treatment Plant on the licence conditions, where it was found that there was non-compliance with 17 conditions that contributed to partially-treated waste being discharged into Kamfers Dam.
Issues of non-compliance were discussed with relevant municipal officials on October 30 2018 after no response was received to a notice of intention to issue a directive.
A sample analysis, that was conducted in November 2018, confirming that untreated effluent was being discharged from the Homevale Waste Water Treatment Plant into Kamfers Dam, was e-mailed to the municipality, highlighting the risks it posed to the environment, water resources, habitat, bird and water life as well as to the suburbs in close proximity.
Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture repaired a sewerage system after sewage overflowed into a mine stormwater trench, where the leaking sewage was left unattended for two weeks after the Department of Water and Sanitation and Sol Plaatje Municipality had been notified on November 9 2018.
The municipality was warned that any person found guilty of contravening the regulations and engaging in activities that were likely to cause pollution to the environment would be liable to a fine and/or term of imprisonment.