Water, Sewage & Effluent January-February 2017 - Page 14

The most affected area is the Crocodile River , where it enters the Hartbeespoort Dam . This area is home to a large number of birdlife .
“ We must depoliticise sewage management in particular , and water resource management in general .”
Depoliticise water
“ This will be counterproductive in my view , because it is unfair to expect any new mayor to resolve a complex infrastructure problem that has been developing over 20 years . We must depoliticise sewage management in particular , and water resource management in general .
“ In conclusion , we need to take sewage management seriously . This means that each municipality must prioritise the staffing , procurement and management of upgrades . It also suggests that a request for proposals should be considered to call for new technologies to be trialled . I am thinking here of HCA and engineered wetland technology , both of which is coming of age , and neither of which are in mainstream use because of barriers to entry by gatekeepers ,” he says .
Mike Muller , adjunct professor at Wits University ’ s School of Governance and a fellow of the Water Institute of South Africa , says the spill highlights two problems : “ There is a trend in some areas to use sewers for solid waste disposal and rubbish is frequently dumped down manholes . This causes blockages that , in turn , lead to overflows , as in this case .
“ Second , in many cities and towns , infrastructure capacity has not been increased to meet new demand . This leads to overloading and spills . But in this case , it appears that Joburg Water had little spare capacity to deal with the blockages that arose , as it was actually
working on upgrades at the time .” Muller points out that because Hartbeespoort Dam lies downstream of a number of municipalities , it will always suffer the consequences of poor sanitation management and function as an indicator of what is happening upstream .
Denying responsibility
Following the sewage spill , the National Department of Public Works ( NDPW ) denied responsibility and expressed concern about the spillage , especially “ as the property in question is under the custodianship of the department ”.
“ Joburg Water , an entity of the City of Joburg , has a municipal out-fall sewer line that crosses the [ Leeuwkop ] prison premises , running parallel to the Jukskei River . It is our understanding that one of the out-fall sewer lines has been decommissioned to resolve blockages in the line . This has resulted in spillages into the Jukskei River ,” says NDPW spokesperson , Thami Mchunu .
Mchunu explains that two out-fall sewer lines from Bruma and Midrand areas adjoin in a sewer line passing through the Leeuwkop Prison on its way to the Northern Works Wastewater Treatment Plant .
“ The departmental technical experts have been on site and have made a number of recommendations to resolve the matter together with Joburg Water ,” says Mchunu .
The NDPW says it has written
12 Water Sewage & Effluent January / February 2017