The recent spillage in one of KwaZulu-Natal’s main water sources, the Midmar Dam, was not just because of ageing infrastructure, Umgeni Water chief executive Thami Hlongwa has said.
A lack of community understanding regarding pollution had to be remedied, he told the media and stakeholders in Durban on Thursday.
“The sewer network in the Mpophomeni area requires an upgrade, yes, but also there needs to be a lot of community engagement and teaching.”
Hlongwa said protective screens found in piping had revealed a back flow of a lot of strange items.
“Some of the things we found were whole cow skins. We even found chickens thrown in there.”
He said this meant the community were dumping trash in manholes.
“What this means is that the community are opening manholes and dumping everything in there, which gets pushed back up by the rains. Naturally, it gets stopped by screens and pushes back into the manholes and spillages take place.”
Images and videos of sewage entering Mthinzima Bay were captured last week, with many saying water quality could be compromised.
The Witness reported criminal charges were laid against the uMngeni Municipality and uMgungundlovu District Municipality as a result of water pollution.
Hlongwa, however, declined to comment on the charges, saying it was unlikely to affect the scope of Umgeni Water’s work.
He said the water quality in the dam was not compromised.
“The extent of damage to the water quality is quite minimal, but we need to manage the situation so it does not get out of hand, especially since we are still expecting heavy rains in December.”
Meanwhile, Umgeni Water board chairperson Ziphozethu Mathenjwa reported the board had used R220m in irregular expenditure on contracts without following proper procurement processes.
The money was spent on a security and services tender, fixing a lift for chemical transportation, fixing a dam crack, and the awarding of a canteen tender.
Mathenjwa said it was undertaking processes to ascertain how it could curb the expenses.
She added the water board would also invest in two new dams in the province and build them over the next decade.