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13.10.2015, admin
Less than half of South Africa’s 821 sewage works are treating the billions of litres of effluent they receive each day to safe and acceptable standards, according to the latest Green Drop Report. It is understood the report does not cover treatment works owned by public works, such as those at prisons, and other private operators. Many of the poorly performing plants are located in the country’s poorer provinces, including the Eastern Cape, Free State, Northern Cape and Limpopo. More than one third of 231 ­local municipalities do not have the capacity to perform their ­sanitation functions, a new study by the Council for ­Scientific and Industrial ­Research (CSIR) has found.
The report, discussed at a United Nations water ­conference in Cape Town, includes a comprehensive survey of South Africa’s levels of water pollution. It found that the situation was so bad, it called for waste-water facilities that did not comply with their licences to be prosecuted.
Water quality, the report ­stated, was excellent in metropolitan areas, but in many rural areas and towns, drinking water quality and waste-water effluent quality were frequently below the standards set.

The breakdown of ageing sewage treatment works and the discharge of bacteria into rivers and streams pose a deadly health risk to water supplies, the African Christian Democratic Party warns. In a written reply to parliamentary questions, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said revealing such information could lead to “serious misinterpretation” of the data. South Africa faces a far more disruptive threat than Eskom power failures, one that is potentially calamitous and may even be seen by religiously-minded citizens as the coming of the biblically predicted apocalypse. It will be characterised by the failure of wastewater purification systems, the pollution of rivers and dams and even the poisoning of waters in reservoirs or dams serving as reservoirs if the purification process is inadequate at that level. Though water and environment affairs minister Buyelwa Sonjica denies that there is a water crisis at present, she implicitly admits that one is inevitable unless strenuous action is taken to prevent it when she warns that South Africa will have to spend R23-billion to prevent the collapse of the wastewater treatment system. An excellent synopsis of the main dimensions of the impending crisis if appropriate and urgent measures are not taken is contained in a publication by the Centre for Development and Enterprise and Business Leadership SA. The publication summarised the contents of a round table discussion by representatives of government, business and academia on the genesis of the problem and the threatened crisis.

And it warns that South Africa is heading for ­disaster unless it tackles the problem of water pollution, ­including its failing sewage treatment ­systems. It is therefore unhygienic and dirty; containing dissolved and suspended particles of sewage and surface matter. The bigger ones like paper, bottles and plastics go first, then the lesser ones such as silt. Some of it( the sludge) is squeezed to expel the excess water it hold while the remaining is reused. It is therefore crucial for a wastewater treatment process to be undertaken before consumption.

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