CHAIRMAN’S REPORT 2017 – SAVE THE VAAL
The SAVE committee has had another challenging year. Since the DWS emergency repairs were completed In March, the focus has shifted to the Sedibeng Regional Sewerage System (SRSS) announced by the Minister of Water and Sanitation in August 2015.
Plans have changed from a proposed new mega-waste water treatment plant to upgrading and increasing capacities of the three existing plants. The plan includes upgrades to ageing and poorly maintained pump stations and pipes which are the source of many sewerage spillages that pollute the Vaal River.
The SRSS plans have thus far changed three times! So it seems that a lot of the work is still on the drawing board. It appears that the focus of the upgrades will now be Leeukuil. The Sebokeng Waste Water Works currently has a capacity of 100 megaL per day and is treating 160 mega L daily.
Registration Number - 011015200004
Committee members: Malcolm Plant - 0825662101 (Chairperson); Maureen Stewart (Vice-chairperson) – 0825705058; Thomas du Toit - 082 419 6526; Andy Henegan - 083 700 0452; Samson Mokoena – 084 291 8510; Johan Smit- 0832044674; Irene Main - 078 521 1676; Mike Gaade – 0825686826; Belinda Daymond- 0828078888.
Patron: TheHon.JusticeW.L.Wepener
                        
Module 6 is under development and plans have been approved for Module 7. This work is expected to commence in July. On completion in a few years, total capacity will be 200 mega L. So it is unlikely that Sebokeng will ever catch up with capacity demand.
In the meantime, tenders have been invited for the development of an R11 billion green fields project Vaal River City. This project is spearheaded by the Gauteng Province. It comprises mixed housing and commercial developments. There has been talk of package sewerage plants for this development. However, Emfuleni has not yet written regulations to deal with technical, management , legal and other issues for such plants.
A senior official of Emfuleni Council has provided a written assurance that no connections will be made for Vaal River City until the SRSS is ready.
However, SAVE is concerned that the requirements of Vaal River City will take precedence over the badly needed capacity increases and upgrades to existing infrastructure. We are following up the Gauteng Province in this regard and if necessary will use the Public Access to Information Act to get the required information.
Emfuleni Local Council
SAVE has a long list of serious spillages which have polluted the river. The latest of these is a two week-long spillage of raw sewerage into the Vaal River at Vereeniging due to serious issues with several pump stations. The stench has been unbearable for rate-paying residents in Vereeniging. 2
Our attorney wrote a strong letter to the Mayor threatening Court action. This resulted in some action by the authorities. The Council met the deadline date set out in the attorney’s letter, after which Court action was planned. However, the stench has remained for over a week because the Council has not done a clean-up operation. Further sewerage spills have also been repoted in this area. This despite a commitment made at a meeting with sAVE and DWS. Work is continuing on the R28/N1 pipeline – another major source of pollution to the Rietspruit. This was supposed to have been completed in February but work is still ongoing. It’s difficult to take this problem to the Courts because work is ongoing, albeit at a slow rate.
In addition there’s a long list of other spillages reported by SAVE.
What is SAVE doing about it?
We meet regularly with the Emfuleni Management and DWS to maintain pressure and will not hesitate to take court action when we are confident of winning such actions.
We also interact with the authorities at the Rietspruit Forum and need to do the same with the Klip River Forum. However, we are a small group of volunteers and can only do so much.
Our prime target remains the Department of Water and Sanitation. This Department has ultimate responsibility for water quality in our dams and rivers.
Parys:
Johan Smit has formed his own committee in Parys to deal with the problems there and to fund-raise. We wish you luck, Johan.
Vaal Dam
Irene Maine continues to do a sterling job at Vaal Dam. Our sympathies to Irene on the death of her husband Bruce. Sue Sellschop
SAVE committee members were saddened at the loss of a stalwart and founder member of SAVE. Sue Sellschop worked tirelessly as a member of the team that prevented strip mining in Cloudy Creek – SAVE’s first success. She remained a committee member until the time of her passing and we will miss her.
FINANCES
Total funds amount to R1097000. Expenditure this year amounted to R138000.
Fund-raising
The wine tasting event was successful despite a disappointing turnout. This is a fun event for the whole family with great entertainment for a cause which should be close to the heart of all people who love the river. Yet, we only 160 people attended the event (compared to 190 the year before). Our income was from 3 donations, raffles and auctions. Our expenses increased due to the need to have a marquee and purchase a liquor license so the net contribution of this event was R30000.
We are planning our next wine tasting event for 7th October. Please support us at this fun family day.
SAVE enjoyed a high profile at the Round the Island Race at Vaal Dam and received financial benefit from the number of entries and raffles. We raised R4000 as a result.
Other issues
SAVE has also spent time and effort on the prevention of undesirable property developments along the river banks. There are also several applications for mining licences which we are being opposed.
Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is of concern. Mariette Liefferink and the Federation for Sustainable Development are doing a sterling job in identifying the areas where the DWS is not meeting its own standards. We are fully supportive of her work in this regard.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the committee and our secretary, Megan Daymond for their support.
I would also like to appeal for people to consider joining our committee, especially those with legal, financial and engineering expertise. We really do need your help.
In the current year, we aim to focus more on DWS and to ensure that the Department takes responsibility and accountability for water quality in the Vaal River System.