The Department of Water and Sanitation has established the Vaal River Catchment Management Agency, which will be responsible for ensuring that water from the area is protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner. Water Affairs Minister Gugile Nkwinti has also announced R341-million has been set aside for the resuscitation of all wastewater treatment infrastructure in the Vaal Triangle.

Vaal wastewater infrastructure rehabilitation continues

The announcements come shortly after the Minister signed a memorandum of understanding between the department, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority. This memorandum of understanding will allow the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority to manage projects such as the Giyani Water project, the Nandoni Nsani Pipeline, the Vaal Gamagara project and the Tzaneen Dam.

The establishment of the Vaal River Catchment Management Agency is part of the Vaal River Rehabilitation Project. This project began last year after raw sewage flowed into the river from pump stations in the Emfuleni Municipality on the northern bank of the river, posing environmental and health risks. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was deployed to the area to help fix the problem.

The SANDF is set to complete plant repairs at the Vaal wastewater treatment facility by March 2020. However, there are concerns about the preservation and maintenance of the plants after the project is completed. As a result, an “implementation protocol” has been put in place.

The protocol was signed by the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department in Gauteng, Emfuleni Local Municipality, the SANDF, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) and the East Rand Water Care Company (ERWAT). ERWAT, which is an entity of the Ekurhuleni Metro, is the implementing agent. The agency will be responsible for ensuring that all wastewater treatment infrastructure is restored to an operational state and that pollution in the Vaal River is stopped.

Speaking to the media at the announcement of the Vaal River Catchment Management Agency, Nkwinti said that a portion of the R341-million budget has been allocated to train 250 youth and community members on plumbing, carpentry, brick-laying, paving and agriculture. The SANDF will also train 2000 youth and community members to guard 44 pump stations until the completion of the project.

In addition to these latest measures, the department is busy completing the construction of the Sebokeng Wastewater Treatment Works which will provide bulk sanitation to the region. Module 6 expected to be complete by the end of May 2019, while Module 7 of the project is expected to start by July 2019.

Image Credit: Flickr/GovernmentZA: https://www.flickr.com/photos/governmentza/43856154222


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