WATCH | ERWAT Kicks off VRIP (Vaal River Intervention Plan)
Posted 18 Dec 2019
GTCoC welcomes ERWAT role in Vaal sewage pollution crisis
By Craig Kotze
Organised business has welcomed waste water specialists ERWAT’s transparency and frankness in addressing the Vaal’s sewage pollution crisis and allegations that the company is itself a polluter elsewhere in Gauteng.
ERWAT formally started in Emfuleni on 1 December and last week its MD, Tumelo Gopane, participated in a high level press conference hosted by Executive Mayor Gift Moerane.
Golden Triangle Chamber of Commerce (GTCoC) Water and Sanitation spokesperson Rosemary Cloete-Anderson has responded at length to Erwat’s announced strategy and related issues as follows:
ERWAT MD Tumelo Gopane’s was addressed with some difficult questions at the 26th November’s Media Briefing. One of them being that ERWAT currently does not have a blemish free reputation at their 19 waste water plants and therefore why should we believe that ERWAT can do the job of addressing the Emfuleni sewerage carnage and finally rehabilitating the Vaal River Reservoir - when they themselves have problems with some of their waste water treatment works within Ekurhuleni.
He answered candidly but with a lack of defensiveness. He detailed how ERWAT was not perfect and specifically has structural problems at their Olivantsvlei waste water treatment works which has required major infrastructure intervention.
The materialization of this intervention should shortly see a major improvement in the quality of the effluent discharged and that overall, ERWAT had a 89% compliance which was substantially higher than the national average.
Gopane also said that we had two options, we can either do nothing and just accept the fate we are in, or we can try to remedy the situation with the ERWAT intervention – and that is exactly what he intended to do. With a sense of determination but with no sign of arrogance, he mentioned that he had decades of experience both overseas and in South Africa and that he had every intention of making a success of this challenge. He was simply going to do it.
Mr Gopane also briefed the media that there would be several parallel programs - of simultaneously unblocking network pipes, repairing pump stations, restoring functionality at the three wastewater treatment plants and dredging at the two discharge points (Rietspruit and Klip). He also accentuated that there was no point in doing any of this if there was not a program of operations, maintenance and security set in place from the onset. This was heartening to hear, since this has been a concern expressed by many before regarding the maintenance of these points once they were rehabilitated including the security aspect.
MD Gopane also warned that due the need to unblock the network pipes that had been blocked for so long, obviously there will be a spike in the pollution as the sewerage blocked within these pipes is released. However, this unfortunately is a necessary part of unblocking of the pipes – and the rehabilitation of the system.
With all the false promises, starts, let downs and disappointments we have had for well over a decade – it is difficult not to feel jaded and sceptical regarding any new promises regarding the rehabilitation of the Vaal River System.
However, as MD Tumelo Gopane said, we can either do nothing - or we can start this new intervention with ERWAT as the implementing agent.
If Mr Gopane pulls this off – he will indeed be the Vaal’s hero since the major positive ramifications of the rehabilitation of the Vaal River System – will have a significant catalytic effect on the approval of the billions of rands worth of development projects currently on hold in the Vaal due to the moratorium.
Perhaps time to root for MD Tumelo Gopane!
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@DWS_RSA Just another expensive joke at the expense of citizens who live with the stench of sewage, have to walk through it to get to work, can no longer fish in the rivers because they are so polluted. DWS get your act together and fix the problem. No more pontificating bureaucrats.