More than 14,245 community members of Prieska in the Siyathemba Municipality in the Northern Cape are now proud beneficiaries of a new R34.2million waste water treatment works.
Population growth has led to socio-economic development and construction of human settlements in Prieska, which meant the Prieska Waste Water Treatment (WWTW) works could no longer cope with the load of sewerage and was compromised.
To remedy this, the Department of Water and Sanitation in the Northern Cape, in partnership with Siyathemba Local Municipality, increased the capacity of the WWTW from 2.175 ML/day to 3.6 ML/day (Megalitres per day).
“The project commenced in March 2020 and was practically completed at the end of June 2021. Some minor and additional works are now being completed,” said the Department in a statement on 16 August 2021.
The Prieska Waste Water Treatment Works is now in compliance with the South African National Standards with all spillages eliminated. Further upgrades will include: installation of a sludge pump; drying beds; bulk sewer outfall line of 247 metres; and construction of four primary ponds.
Addressing waste water pollution in South Africa
The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) continues to address water pollution from wastewater treatment works as it oversees infrastructure maintenance projects.
Municipalities submit monthly reports to the DWS on the quality of the effluent they release into rivers and oceans. DWS data suggests that 75% of municipality-run wastewater treatment works in the country achieve less than 50% compliance to minimum effluent standards in 2020.
Acting Chief Director in the Department’s Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement unit, Siboniso Mkhaliphi, said the main source of pollution comes from wastewater treatment works due to sewer blockages, poor operations and maintenance, as well as pollution from mining operations resulting in problems of acid mine drainage, particularly in mining provinces.
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Mkhaliphi said the DWS has designated officials known as the Green Scorpions, who are members of the Environmental Management Inspectorate and working to prevent and curb the extent of water pollution.
“The Green Scorpions have a wide range of powers and functions and are empowered to investigate and effect arrests for water crimes,” Mkhaliphi said.
According to Mkhaliphi, the Green Scorpions has investigated a total of 598 cases related to dysfunctional waste water treatment since 2014, with most of the cases investigated following public complaints.
Enforcement actions, including administrative, civil and criminal actions, were taken by the department against municipalities found to have violated the water legislation in relation to WWTWs. Mkhaliphi said the department embarks on legal processes as a last resort, and only takes legal action after numerous attempts to persuade and compel the municipalities to rectify their non-compliances.