Residents flush raw sewage into dam

The dam in Entokozweni.

TEKWANE SOUTH – Some of the residents of Entokozweni, near Tekwane South, have taken to flushing their sewage directly into a nearby dam which runs through to the Crocodile River.

The area does not have a bulk sewer line, and most of the households use septic tanks, but residents said it was too expensive to service them.

City of Mbombela Local Municipality spokesman, Mr Joseph Ngala, said normal spatial-planning processes were not followed, as residents settled in the area before bulk services were put in place.

Also read: No harmony as sewage flows into streets 

The municipality has set aside R16 million to install a bulk sewer line in the financial year – starting in July. Residents, however, cannot wait. Some have been living in the area for more than eight years.

The locals claim they have been engaging with the municipality to try and find a permanent solution, but there was no action from its side.

The connection of their sewer line to the river already posses a health hazard, but residents say they have no other option. “If you are a big household, your drain gets full quickly because the drains are small. “All the water from the shower and sink goes through to the drain,” said one resident who wanted to remain anonymous. He added that they feared a disease outbreak.

Also read: Sewage could cause ecological disaster 

In 2015 residents placed buckets with faeces at the former councillor’s house in protest against the septic tanks that had began to overflow. It sparked municipal action. “They sent out a company to clean our drains for free.

That’s the only time they arranged a temporary measure for us,” the man said.

Ngala told Lowvelder that the affected households were notified of their responsibility to service their own septic tanks.

“The municipality even went as far as assisting the households to engage with a service provider and agreed on a negotiated price for them,” Ngala said.

Also read: End in sight for sewerage saga 

Inkomati Usuthu Catchment agency’s CEO, Mr Thomas Gyedu-Arabio, said the agency was unaware of the problem and expressed surprise at the municipality’s silence on the matter.

“We are concerned about the state of our streams and dams. If the community is doing that then we will send a team to inspect the problem,” he said.

The chairman of the Crocodile River Forum, Mr Theo Dormehl, said the issue will be raised with the relevant stakeholders but was worried about the dangers of spilling sewerage into the river.

“If people continue to do that, it will result in waterborne diseases. There might already be cases that we don’t know of so which warrants an investigation into the matter,” Dormehl said.

“We view the channelling of sewerage to streams very seriously as this can lead to waterborne diseases and appeal to those doing it, to stop immediately,” Ngala concluded.

Trevor Hlungwani

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