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Sewage in Swartkops River a major concern
Industrial waste water (bottom) and sewage water (top) is said to be flowing into the Swartkops River and estuary. INSET:The sewage allegedly flowing into the Swartkops River and estuary poses a great threat to marine life inhabiting the river. Photos:supplied

RAW, untreated sewage allegedly flowing directly into the Swartkops River and estuary in Nelson Mandela Bay is contributing to a massive ecological catastrophe that could see the total collapse of one of the metro’s most precious wildlife ecosystems.

This is the sentiment of DA leader in the Eastern Cape and PR councillor in the metro, Nqaba Bhanga, who recently conducted an oversight visit to a pump station at the Markman Canal and Motherwell Artificial Reedbed/Saltpan estuary.

Bhanga, who was accompanied by the party’s shadow deputy minister for human settlements, water and sanitation, Emma Powell, said that the Swartkops River Estuary is every bit as sensitive and unique as the ecosystem of the Knysna Lagoon and needs to be protected.

“Instead, we are currently presiding over the total destruction of this precious wildlife sanctuary,” Bhanga added.

Raw, untreated water has allegedly been flowing into the Swartkops River and Estuary in Nelson Mandela Bay.

The delegation also consisted of Ngqura constituency leader, Yusuf Cassim, DA shadow MEC for finance, Retief Odendaal, Eastern Cape member of the Office of the Premier portfolio committee, Kobus Botha, DA local spokesperson for public health, Leander Kruger, and Zwartkops Conservancy committee member, Jenny Rump.

Bhanga said it appears that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, that is responsible for the treatment of wastewater in the metro, does not have the capacity to manage and maintain wastewater infrastructure in the Bay.

“In several places, raw, untreated sewage and industrial sewage was found flowing into the river and estuary, posing not only a massive health risk to residents but also to our precious wildlife.”

He also mentioned that the discharge of raw sewage into a natural water resource is illegal in terms of the Constitution, specifically the National Environmental Management Act No. 107 of 1998 and the National Water Act No. 36 of 1998.

He mentioned that Powell would take this matter up in national parliament and bring it to the attention of the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu. Cassim would also drive the issue in the provincial legislature while Kruger would hold the municipality to account.

“I will shortly start conducting oversight inspections at the metro’s different wastewater treatment plants to highlight how the metro’s administration is putting our people at risk. The NMB government must be brought to book for endangering one of the most precious water sources and ecosystems in our Bay,” he added.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spokesperson, Mamela Ndamase, said that the NMBM would like to highlight that no raw sewage is discharged from any of the municipality’s Wastewater Treatment Works.

“Reports on performance are reported to the infrastructure and engineering portfolio committee, where all parties are represented.

“We do experience challenges of vandalism to our infrastructure and, as a result, sewage then spills into rivers.

“Councillors were also made aware of this at the portfolio committee earlier this year.

“We urge communities to guard against vandalism as this has a negative impact on our rivers,” Ndamase said.

“The pump stations do fail, but our mechanical electrical teams then take the required action to put the station back into commission in the shortest space of time,” she added.

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