ENVIRONMENT: Activists kick against Vaal pipeline construction
by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
VEREENIGING, (CAJ News) – THOUSANDS of people across the world have voiced their concern at plans by the South African government to construct a pipeline environmentalists have warned could spill raw sewage into the Vaal Dam.
Minister of Water and Environment Affairs, Edna Molewa, has commissioned the sewerage pipeline project.
However, there has been an outcry as Vaal Dam is Gauteng Province’s source of drinking water and is the source of livelihood to wildlife within the surrounding areas.
More than 12 million residents (20 percent of the total population) of South Africa’s economic hub depend on water from the dam although the bulk of its supplies comes from Lesotho.
Amid the plans to construct the pipeline, Avaaz, a global civic organization that promotes activism on issues such as climate change, human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty, and conflict, has led a campaign against the project.
By Tuesday evening, more than 12 000 people had signed the petition demanding that the project be halted.
“Water is one of the most precious resources we have in this country (South Africa)– and it is already under severe pressure. As citizens of South Africa, we are alarmed by the construction of a pipeline that would pump raw sewage into the Vaal dam, a resource that supplies 12 million people with water every day.
“We call on you to save the Vaal by urgently reviewing the project and cancelling the pipeline for good,” one resident said.
Environmentalists and concerned residents of areas such as Johannesburg, Vereeniging and Pretoria, who are reliant on water from the dam, condemned government plans strongly.
An international environmental activist, Mike Baillie, pointed out that the Vaal Dam was a critical water resource for millions of people across the region.
He said it was also the last refuge for fish eagles and delicate aquatic life.
“Its future is on a knife’s edge: pollution is already a major problem and this pipeline could be the tipping point, causing a serious health hazard and poisoning the ecosystem.
“We have just days before the pipeline reaches the water’s edge. If we build a huge national petition we can amplify local opposition voices and give this monster project the negative publicity it deserves,” Baillie said in a statement to CAJ News Africa.
Ballie said as the country faced the worst drought in two decades, it needed to preserve water and not poison it with untreated human sewage.
“The project is supposedly aimed at alleviating the pressure on Deneysville’s overflowing sewage plant.
“But pumping excess sewage into the Vaal could cause a bigger disaster than the one it’s trying to solve, threatening water security, the environment, and the health of millions,” Baillie said.
– CAJ News
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