By Janho Engelbrecht MPL, DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Environmental Affairs:
Residents of Gauteng have been placed in a precarious situation by government, as the quality of water that flows through the majority of dams and rivers in the province has deteriorated to such an extent, that in some instances, water quality is so poor it cannot even be used for irrigation.
According to a report published in the South African Journal of Science, South Africa’s water bodies – poor filtration has created the perfect climate for a process known as eutrophication to take place.
Eutrophication is a process whereby an aquatic environment becomes enriched with nutrients. This can lead to, as is the case in Gauteng, the development of blue-green algae blooms that are toxic to not only the environment but to humans and animals.
The reason for the sad state of water affairs in the province can only be attributed to poor waste water management.
It is a well-known fact that the vast majority of waste water treatment works in Gauteng release water far below acceptable waste water quality standards. This in turn pollutes rivers and streams running into dams.
Foremost among these are the Hennops and Jukskei rivers, which feed the Hartbeespoort dam through the Crocodile River.
Hartbeespoort dam is the most polluted dam in the country and is described as toxic in the Journal of Sciences’ report.
Should this trend continue, residents of Gauteng will be faced with elevated costs of bulk services from municipalities linked to the cost of purifying contaminated water, food price increases and even the possibility of being denied access to this basic human right as a result of water shortages.
With all signs pointing to a crisis in the very near future, all spheres of government must endeavor to take every measure possible in ensuring quality, availability and accessibility of this scarce resource.