Water and Sanitation takes Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality to court for pollution of rivers

DWS takes Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality to court to stop pollution of rivers

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has approached the courts to ensure the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality responds positively to the requisite remedial actions to stop pollution emanating from some of the water treatment plants within the Metros jurisdiction. This inaction has a direct impact on the DWS being able to drive its obligation to provide safe and drinkable water to affected communities.

The matter is being heard in the Gauteng North High Court today with the hope of receiving an urgent interdict in this regard.

The department has been seized with the matters of malfunctioning Waste Water Treatment Works within the Metro since 2010. In particular the following Waste Water Treatment Works are identified: Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Works, Klipgat Waste Water Treatment Works, Baviaanspoort Waste Water Treatment Works and Sunderland Ridge Waste Water Treatment Works.

The department points out that there is an inherent risk of people getting sick to the extent that they can lose their lives. Pursuant to the complaints raised by South African Human Rights Council in August 2018, the Applicant and the Respondent were put on terms to ensure that water pollution should be stopped immediately. Unfortunately, due to the Respondent’s non-cooperation, the commitments made to HRC have not been met and the situation is deteriorating daily.

DWS notes that failure by the Metropolitan municipality to redress the problem as required the South African Human Rights Commission, will render the department a party to the on-going pollution of the resource and degradation of the environment. This cannot be as the department must adhere to legislation as the sole protector of water resources in South Africa tasked also with providing clean drinkable water.

The Respondent had submitted an Action Plan dated July 2018 to the Applicant, which plan was rejected by the Applicant since the Respondent failed to treat the issues raised as a disaster. It was also not acceptable that the Respondent’s action plan reflects the delivery target of 30 June 2019, despite the critical nature of the state of Rooiwal, Sunderland Ridge, Baviaanspoort and Klipgat Waste Water Treatment Works.

The DWS will hope for the necessary strengthening of its arm whilst continuing to engage the Metro in terms of the Inter-Governmental Relations Act, without further endangering the resource, the environment, and the lives of South Africans.

Source: Government of South Africa