Pollution levels in rivers alarming

crocodile river

Crocodile River - Nelspruit/Mbombela

NELSPRUIT – It is not safe to drink water from any river in Mpumalanga.

This alarming fact is just one of the concerns  mentioned in the most recent report by Inkomati in Mpumalanga.
Inkomati is South Africa’s first catchment management agency and was launched in the province in November 2006.
According to this report several rivers in Mpumalanga, including the Crocodile River that flows through Nelspruit, is fast becoming too dangerous to use for the watering of farm crops or even to swim in.
The massive impact of the state of local rivers has forced the Department of Water Affairs (DWA), as well as the Ehlanzeni and Mbombela municipalities to intervene.
Polluters of the Crocodile River are being brought to book in efforts to reduce the dangerous high levels of the E. coli virus.
According to Mr Brian Khoza, national spokesman for DWA, one criminal case has been opened against a polluter of the Crocodile River.
“The department uses a section of the National Water Act to direct those who are linked to  pollution to take measures to prevent further pollution.
“This entails the issuing of notices and directives and in some cases has led to the pursuance of criminal cases against the alleged polluters,” said Khoza in a statement issued to Lowvelder.
According to him the department is also strengthening the regulation unit that was formerly known as the Blue Scorpions (Water Scorpions) and plans to pursue civil cases against polluters.
“The department will also be implementing a waste discharge system in the near future.
“We will  work closely with NGOs and academic institutions within the province to ensure that human resource capacity is being built to be able to respond to pollution challenges,” said Khoza.
The Ehlanzeni Local Municipality has started a community awareness campaign to try and educate community members about water pollution and how to prevent it.
As part of the  awareness initiative the Nkomazi Municipality called a community meeting to create insight   into water purification methods at home and inform the community of rehydration methods for those suffering from diarrhoea and cholera.
A total of 30 Chlor-Floc sachets were issued to 80 community members who attended the meeting. One sachet can purify 25 litres of water.
Municipal officials of Nkomazi also indicated that plans are underway to construct two mini water purification plants, that would be funded by DWA to solve the water crisis in the area.
The Mbombela Municipality indicated that it would ensure that the right measures are taken to curb illegal dumping that adds to water pollution.
In a reply to Lowvelder, the municipality said that traffic officers are designated as law enforcement officers and have a mandate to take drastic steps against those caught dumping refuse illegally.
The Mbombela Municipality also committed itself to tend to all complaints about illegal dumping within 48 hours.

Source: The Lowvelder Online

Intentional (and even unintentional) polluters of waterways should be charged with culpable homicide; every year countless people become seriously ill or die from drinking contaminated water.  Mere fines for big industry does not seem to be a deterrent- the fines are probably incorporated into their budgets and they simply continue polluting. It would be great to see traffic officers apprehending people who are caught dumping refuse illegally, however it seems unlikely that they’ll willingly do this when they can pass their time sitting at speed traps, writing out fines for traffic ‘crimes’.

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