The AHi calls on an immediate nationwide assessment by water experts of all incidences related to the deliberate discharge of raw sewage from municipal sanitary sewers into South Africa's river systems and wetland areas. An action plan is urgently required to investigate such incidences, to stop the discharge, to ensure compliance and to act against those found guilty of gross neglect.
Untreated sewage not only contaminate our waters, causing serious water quality problems, but it poses a health threat and impedes local economic development.
The dilapidating state of water and sanitation infrastructure in rural towns, especially in provinces such as the Eastern Cape, Frees State, Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo has led to growing incidences of raw sewage from municipal sanitary sewers contaminating local river systems.
This in turn has led to an increase in community protests. A considerable decline in the local agriculture and tourism activities is also noticeable in areas where water systems are contaminated.
Efficient water and sanitation management and related infrastructure development is a necessary prerequisite for maximising social development and economic growth, to attract investment and to improve the quality of life of local citizens. This golden rule has however been compromised due to incompetence and ignorance at local government level.
Municipal officials and councillors must realise that South Africa is one of the most water-scarce countries and that water and sanitation management is of crucial importance.
Of even greater importance is the fact that business growth and economic productivity go hand in hand with the availability of efficient and affordable water and sanitation services. Poor water and sanitation management on the contrary stifle economic growth, employment opportunities, wealth creation and ultimately human development.
Read: SA is on sewage time bomb
South Africa’s Constitution and Bill of Rights enshrine the basic human right to have access to suf?cient water and a safe and healthy environment and the AHi recognise the huge strides made to provide access to basic services such as water and sanitation.
However more and more municipalities fail in their legislative duty as prescribed in the Water Services Act, 1997 (Act 108 of 1997) to manage the water and sanitation infrastructure under their control according to national standards and norms.
This act also places an obligation on the Minister to maintain a National Water Services Information System and to monitor the performance of all water services institutions, such as municipalities.
The AHi calls on local chambers to report any incidences of raw sewage discharge into the water system to the authorities and to work hand in hand with municipalities to prevent such incidences.
E Cape sewage health risk
Most SA sewage work sub standard
Image: raw sewage flowing into a river, Shutterstock