South Africa produces around 5,000 Ml/d of sewage (5 billion litres daily). Of this total around 20% is treated to levels that render it safe to be returned to a receiving watercourse with some degree of confidence.
The rest, a staggering 4,000 Ml/d (4 billion litres) of untreated (or at best partially treated) sewage, is discharged into our national rivers and dams every day, where it destroys the 38 Billion Cubic Metres (BCM) of water held in strategic storage as a national reserve.
It is known as a verifiable scientific fact that between 60% and 75% of our largest dams are now impacted by sewage flows that produce toxic blooms of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).
It is also known that the species of cyanobacteria that is prevalent in SA waters is Microcysis aureginosa, which produces a potent hepatotoxin known as microcystin.
It is also known that levels of microcystin in South African waters are amongst the highest in the world, being at least three orders of magnitude greater than levels of concern in other countries.
It is also known that microcystin is released by these cyanobacteria when they are distressed, such as occurs when they are exposed to chlorine.
It is also known that no bulk water treatment plant currently in existence in South Africa, including the big bulk suppliers like Rand Water and Umgeni Water, has the technology capable of removing this toxin.
We the undersigned urgently petition the Minister NomvulaA Mokonyane in the department of water and sanitation
- To expedite the upgrade and maintenance of our failing sewerage pump systems and piping systems that are the cause of the sewerage entering our waterways.
- To budget funding of the necessary science to inform decision making