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SA dams, rivers beautiful from far and far from beautiful

Beautiful from afar, but far from beautiful: Many of the SA dams and rivers are choked by water hyacinth, algae blooms, and have dangerously high E. coli levels, caused by sewage flowing into the country’s natural water systems.

The Hartbeespoort Dam in the northwest has long suffered from algal blooms; the Roodeplaat Dam in Pretoria was covered with water hyacinth; while the Wemmer Pan Lake in Joburg was found to be contaminated with sewage and litter.

All three dams have dangerous levels of E. coli, as does the Vaal dam, where Gauteng gets most of the water from.

ALSO READ: “It is a sin not to provide water” – Minister Mchunu tells the summit

Across the country, the Ntshingwayo Dam near Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal posed a very high health risk for cyanobacteria, as did Gariep in the Free State, Spitskop in the Northern Cape and Voëlvlei Dam in the Western Cape.

Raw sewage flowing into the water is a major source of nutrients for the algae bloom.

Last year, the Olifantsfontein water treatment plant in Ekurhuleni was temporarily shut down to pre-test before commissioning the biofilter plant.

Hennops Revival founder Tarryn Johnston said they haven’t received much feedback since the October shutdown, other than delays due to the festive season closing and the factory still not complying.

Kimberley also had its own “sewage lake,” which the spokesman for the public protector, Oupa Segalwe, said was under investigation. It turned out to be the result of an aging and collapsing bulk sewage network.

“According to Prime Minister Zamani Saul, the network will need an estimated R5 billion to overhaul,” he said.

“At least one life was reportedly lost when drivers of a van and truck driving in the area lost control of their vehicles and ended up in the cesspool in two traffic accidents.”

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