Neels Blom Writer at large

As the water and sanitation crisis on the Vaal River and its catchment escalates, two government departments have issued a joint statement denying a positive link between mass fish mortality and raw sewage flowing into the river. Reports over the past weeks have shown fish kills as evidence of sewage discharge into tributaries on the north bank of the Vaal River, and linked that to health risks to millions of people and a constraint to development. The presence of excessive levels of E.coli in the river is linked to disease outbreaks in especially poorer communities and threatens the phytosanitary status of export farmers who irrigate from the river. This means the demand for clean water to dilute polluted water downstream rises in relation to pollution levels. Clean water is supplied by the Lesotho Highlands Water Project into the Vaal River upstream from the Vaal Dam, where Gauteng’s drinking water is abstracted for distribution by Rand Water. About 60% of SA’s economy is dependen...

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