‘Government must intervene in Blyvoor water crisis’

Children and women at the polluted pond that was not only used for drinking water, but also for washing clothes in Blyvoor during the past week.
Children and women at the polluted pond that was not only used for drinking water, but also for washing clothes in Blyvoor during the past week.

A well-known environmentalist has called on government to intervene in the ongoing water issue at Blyvoor.

The Herald previously reported that Rand Water had cut the water supply to Blyvoor Village on 12 May. The instruction had come from the Merafong City Local Municipality after Blyvoor had failed to pay an outstanding water account of almost R183 million.

While the new owners of Blyvoor village, Double D&G Building Contractors, businesses and schools in Blyvoor had offered to pay about R600 000 per month to the municipality, it was considered too little to keep the water supply connected.

This week, many Blyvoor residents told the Herald of how they are suffering without water. The community initially rejected a municipal offer to deliver water by tanker, but were forced to accept the arrangement later in the week. “We did not want to accept the arrangement because Blyvoor has a serious crime problem and it is easy for someone to sabotage our drinking water. In the past, people have thrown dirty nappies into the water tankers. Another reason is that the mayor has warned us that this service could be interrupted as a result of problems with the trucks delivering the water,” Mr Pule Molefe, a concerned member of the community, explained to the Herald.

Molefe also pointed out to the Herald that several women from the community were washing their families’ clothes in a small pool. This dam was previously used to catch the water that had spilled over from mining activities. Apparently, desperate residents had even resorted to drinking this water before others made them aware that it was polluted with mining waste.

On Tuesday, some residents also complained that some of the water that the municipality had delivered in water tankers was not clean enough to drink.

After the water supply was cut, the Department of Education ensured that tanks were put up at the three primary schools in Blyvoor. While this ensured that there was, at least, some water at the schools, it was not enough to supply to all needs. Toilets at the schools are allegedly only flushed after all the children have left in the afternoons because there is not enough water to flush more regularly.

“The schools are asking children to each bring two bottles of water along every day. Some families do not even have water at home, however.

“What must they do?” Molefe also lamented.

“The alleged failure by the relevant organs of state to enforce the pollution pays principle, as set our in Section 28 of the NEMA and Section 19 of the NWA, the closure requirements on cessation of mining in terms of the MPRDA Regulations and the requirements of the Water Services Act for the allocation of 25 litres of water per person has resulted in a situation which may be classified as violations of human rights. Blyvoor’s residents’ right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being, the right to life and the right to sufficient water has been particularly affected.

We hereby, grounded upon the subjoined reports and above-mentioned, beg the DEA, the SAHRC, the DWS and the DMR to urgently intervene,” the well-known environmentalist, Ms Mariette Liefferink, wrote to relevant departments and structures on Monday.

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