CHAIRMAN’S STATEMENT – 2015/2016 YEAR

A warm welcome to the 2015/16 AGM.

 

The SAVE committee has made significant progress in its strategy to ensure that  the National Department of Water and Sanitation accepts its legal responsibility for water quality in the Vaal River system. Action is required at national level to prevent ongoing  pollution of this valuable resource.

 

We held our first meeting with the DWS In September last year when the authority was informed of its responsibility and SAVE’s intention to approach the High Court for a Court Order to ensure that the Minister would take urgent action to prevent pollution, especially from waste water works and broken sewer lines.

 

Since that meeting, the Director of Compliance, Chris du Preez, has shown his willingness to communicate.  The Department audited the 26 waste water works whose effluent decants into the Vaal River.  The authority set aside R300 million for emergency repairs to these waste water works. These repairs are expected to be completed between June and September this year.

 

We meet regularly with DWSEmfuleni Council and Rand Water representatives  to follow up on progress and to ensure action.

 

The Department is being responsive to SAVE’s reports of sewage spills from the Emfuleni sewer lines and pump stations and has ensured that urgent attention is given to these problems and ensuring that funds are paid directly to contractors.

 

However, our battles with the Department of Water and Sanitation are not over as many issues remain.  Work required to upgrade the works, incease capacities and to revitalise the outdated, ageing and poorly maintained sewer lines, especially in Emfuleni.  This will require a lot more than R300 million if we are to see effluent from these waste water works meeting acceptable standards.. 

 

The number of large, low cot housing developments is another issue in Emfuleni. Many of these are not connected to the sewer system with this wastes water eventually flowing  into the river. 

 

We intend to maintain our pressure on National Government to ensure that sufficient funds are made available for this essential work. 

 

SAVE is concerned regarding the impact of the Sedibeng Regional Sewer System on the Rietspruit and the Loch.  The Emfuleni Local Council and the Department of Water and Sanitation plan to establish this plant adjacent to the current Rietspruit Waste Water Works.   The new plant is unlikely to be trouble-free.

 

SAVE will register as  an Interested and Affected Party for the Environmental Impact Assessment for the mega-plant  and will provide input at the appropriate time.

 

We are also placing pressure on the authorities about the current Rietspruit Works. Repairs to this works fell off the list.  This plant needs attention as it is a major problem area and is operating over capacity in terms of hydraulic load and has isufficient emergency dam capacity – to name a few. We need to ensure that this plant is upgraded with a acapacity increase for the 10-plus years it will take to get the new mega works commissioned. There is a strong possibility that Court proceedings will be required for the authorities to find the money.

 

The Vaal Dam has its own problems.  Apart from industrial and sewage pollution, an organization by the name of Rhino Exploration has applied for oil and gas exploration rights over a large area in and around the Vaal Dam.   This presents a serious threat to the integrity of Gauteng’s water supply.  Irene Main, our Vaal Dam representative is working with Mariette Liefferink in regard to this threat. SAVE have also lodged a complaint with both the DWS and will be writing to the Department of Mineral Affairs.

 

MEDIA

We are most appreciative of the support that the media have given to our cause.   We have had two excellent TV programmes – Carte Blanche which highlighted the Vaal Dam problems, and 50/50 which focused on the health risks from contact with polluted water.  

 

The Star, Beeld and of course Vaal Weekblad have been our strong supporters over many years.  We thank all the journalists involved and were delighted to note that Sheree Bega of The Star won an award for her article on the plight of the Vaal River.

 

OFFICE

Two years ago, we established an office with our secretary Megan Daymond who works part-time for four days a week. Megan is earning her keep in terms of administrative duties, fund-raising events, attending meetings and water forums on behalf of SAVE and keeping the SAVE boat floating.  Thank you Megan.

 

FINANCIALS

At this point I will deal with the financials for the year from which you will see that we clearly need more financial support.

 

Total income and expenditure comments

Balance Sheet comments

 

FUNDRAISING

On the fundraising front, we raised R33 000 for the Wine under Willows event held in October last year. Many thanks to Viccy Baker who sparked the initiative and put in a lot of hard work and financial support.   Thanks too, to Frans Britz for the use of his magnificent venue which set the scene for a great day.

 

We also held another Saturday  cruise on the Spirit of Jen.  To those who attended, many thanks. We are also most appreciative to Rex and Rosemary Anderson and Stonehaven on Vaal for their ongoing support.  This cruise raised R………… from auctions and ticket sales.

 

Lake Denys Yacht Club invited SAVE to be a partner and beneficiary of the Round the Islad race.   SAVE received a donation of R2 700 which was based on the number of boat entries in the 2016 event. It was  also a great opportunity to create awareness of our work.

 

We wish that other boating clubs on the river would follow their example and will be in contact with these clubs to encourage their support.

 

Andrew Surtees of Luciana Estate came up with a wonderful concept – a River Rats day to create awareness of the benefits of the river.  Some 70 boats joined in the fun, with people and boats in various attire.  It was a great day on the river.  SAVE had a strong presence with flags and banners.   I will meeting with Andrew to discuss the next event with the aim of making it a fund-raiser for SAVE.

 

Sincere thanks to our regular donors.  However, these are few in number.  We are asking you to set up a recurring monthly payment of R200 per month.  We know times are tough but it is in the interests of all people who love the river, and, in particular, river property owners  have a vested interest in our cause to ensure a clean, safe river.

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

Many thanks to our committee members who have worked well together this year to take SAVE forward.  Hope you will all stay with us into the future.

 

We plan to continue our strategy with the DWS and build relationships with the new Mayor and Municipal Manager at the Emfuleni Local Council.  We will be informing them about the existing Court Orders and will try to ensure that some budget is allocated to resolving sewer problems.

 

Thank you for attending this meeting.   I am happy to take questions now.

 

 Tea and coffee is available and you might like to purchase a red flag for your boat and a cap and golf shirt.