Dear YWG supporter,
It will not surprise you that this month’s newsletter is devoted solely to the mid-Vaal and the complete destruction wrought by the discharge of at least 150 million litres of raw sewage daily into SA’s most important river from Emfuleni’s sewage plants which decant into the Barrage reservoir. This was a disaster just waiting to happen despite SAVE’s (Save the Vaal) heroic efforts over the last 12 years to prevent this.
DWS put out a pathetic press release trying to describe this as a natural phenomenon with fish kills the result of dropping oxygen levels. We must be clear about this. The massive fish kills were followed by the death of virtually every living thing in the river and riverine area. Insect life, birdlife including fish eagles, and otters to name just a few. And as for our indigenous fishes it was just before the onset of the spawning season. How far down the river this disaster extends we do not know yet, but it will certainly be as far as the Bloemhof Dam, itself a badly polluted reservoir.
How long will it take for the river to recover, if ever, we do not know at this stage, but if it does recover eventually it will take many, many years. If you wish to see how badly the river is polluted refer to the recent August report click here.
Where was Water Affairs? Nowhere, and if you want to see the open letter SAVE chairman sent to the Minister click here .The DEA? Nowhere to be seen. Like DAFF probably dreaming up new ways of persecuting the aquaculture industry and ordinary law-abiding citizens.
I must admit I still have friends in the DEA and DWS who are hard working and well aware of the threats to the environment, but their voices seldom count these days.
FOSAF and the YWG are represented at SAVE by Chris Williams (FOSAF NR chair) who also appeared on Carte Blanche a couple of weeks ago. There is a ray of hope as explained at the mass meeting (300 attended) last Saturday. The premier of Gauteng has promised that the funds will be made available to make the waste water treatment plants operational again. This will take several weeks but we do believe that David Mahkura is a man of his word.
What was important about last Saturday’s mass meeting which was addressed by SAVE’s environmental attorney, Jeremy Ridl and their chairman Malcolm Plant was that this tragic event must be the turning point and that government must now be forced to implement the plan they have been sitting on to clean up our fresh and estuarine waterways. DWS say they cannot fund it but they lost a cool R2,5 billion in wasteful expenditure etc, etc. in last financial year.
So, once again it is up to civil society and the hard- pressed environmental NGO’s to win this battle and if it is not won SA faces a very bleak future. For more about the future read Anthony Turton’s article by clicking here
PeterReturn to Yellowfish Working Group News