Sunday, March 07, 2010

Hartbeespoort's water woes

It's a good sense of reality, coupled with part envy, that makes me think - GOOD RIDDANCE - about these out of touch wealthy whites living on the Hartebeespoort Dam in the North West Province. It's always been the wealthy whites that have been too eager to sacrifice high standards and a good work ethic in our South African society because they always thought THEY wouldn't be affected by any changes in the New South Africa. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how these guys are making a plan and taking matters into their own hands.

from Times Live

A municipality that rakes in millions of rands in rates from property owners is battling to find R3.5-million to build a 500-metre link to a pipeline to ease a town's water woes.

Although Rand Water built a 50km pipeline to supply water to some sections of Hartbeespoort in North West Province more than a year ago, the Madibeng municipality says it does not have the money for a connecting pipeline.

Collectively, the 47,280 property owners in Hartbeespoort, including suburbs such as Meerhof, Melodie and Ifafi, own properties worth R23.6-billion.

But they are fuming after millions of litres of raw sewage flowed into the dam between November last year and January after pumps at the water treatment plants stopped working.

This prompted the municipality to warn residents to boil water before drinking it because of possible health hazards.

In its notice to residents, the municipality said: "Bathing (with tap water) is safe, as long as no water is swallowed."


The problem is not confined to wealthy suburbs. Residents of neighbouring Lethlabile, Oukasie, Madidi, Maboloka, Mmakau, Hebron, Kgabalatsane and Oskraal have also voiced their concerns.

Eighty-nine people were arrested as Oukasie residents blocked roads, burnt tyres and threw stones at police last week in protest over the poor water quality and lack of service delivery.

Madibeng municipality has admitted that the water purification plants servicing residents around the dam were "under stress to handle such extremely poor water quality from the dam".

The municipality received a score of just 10% from the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry last year.

Jaco Malan of Pecanwood Estate recently wrote a letter to a local newspaper calling on residents to withhold property taxes with immediate effect "to stop the rot".

The Madibeng municipality is among 24 municipalities in North West that are being investigated by the special investigating unit, on President Jacob Zuma's instructions, for corruption and unlawful expenditure of public money.

An organisation known as the Hartbeespoort Inhabitants' Forum is planning to establish a section 21 company to assist or even take over some of the functions of the municipality, such as cleaning the town's roads and parks in return for a 50% rebate on property rates.

The chairman of the forum, Pieter Rautenbach, has bought a motorcycle to visit the water treatment plants and pump stations to monitor sewage spillages.

He said there were 11 engineers in the forum. "Almost R30-million has been spent on cleaning up the dam, but owing to the sewage spillage, all that good work has been nullified."

In its Waste Water Quality Summary Report for Madibeng for October last year, the Department of Water Affairs found that the municipality had completely failed to restrict the concentration of ammonia in waste water.

"High ammonia concentrations may indicate the presence of untreated sewage," the report added.

Rick van Rossum, the chief executive of Hartbeespoort's Water Action Group, described the dam as "an extension of Joburg's sewerage farm".

Treated waste water from Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane ends up in the dam after flowing through the Crocodile River.

"We have had (experts) from Israel and America, as well as our own, taking one look at the dam and saying, 'Oops, this is a sewerage farm.' The main problem is nutrients flowing from Gauteng through the Crocodile River. Whatever people living from Springs to Randfontein flush down the toilet comes into our dam."

Van Rossum recalled that former water affairs minister Ronnie Kasrils visited the dam in 2003 and assured a group of residents that he understood their problems but could not assist them.

Van Rossum said Kasrils told them: "You expect me to go back to parliament tomorrow and ask for R200-million for you bunch of Sandton golfers to have clean water. I've got 20 million people who don't have any water."

Another resident, Dirk Bouwer, said sewage frequently flowed from manholes. "Most people are buying bottled water instead of using tap water."

The municipality had also not been chlorinating the water for a number of months, said Bouwer.

2 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Simple solution to the water problem, sink a borehole. Problem solved, and one less thing you have to rely on kaffirs for.

WHITEADDER said...

Time to close the rates and taxes money flow to the boons and use it to organise the service one pays for.