Categories: EconomyGovernmentNews

South African Ministers Establish Task Team to Combat River Pollution

  • South African ministers have formed a Technical Task Team to address concerns regarding the use of glyphosate by Rand Water in clearing alien invasive plants along the Vaal River.
  • Immediate short-term interventions involve revising control approaches, intensifying compliance and enforcement, and reviewing the Vaal River Catchment Strategy.
  • Long-term strategies include fast-tracking wastewater treatment works refurbishments and exploring multiple control strategies for sustainable management of the situation.
Published by
Miriam Matoma

In response to growing public concerns over the management of alien invasive plants along the Vaal River, Senzo Mchunu, Minister of Water and Sanitation, and Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment, have initiated strategic measures. Together, they’ve established a Technical Task Team aimed at identifying interventions with tangible outcomes to address the challenge effectively.

The task team, led by the Directors-General of both departments and the Chief Executive Officer of Rand Water, has swiftly identified immediate short- and long-term interventions with clear objectives to tackle the issue head-on. These measures come amidst apprehension regarding the use of glyphosate, a chemical, by Rand Water for clearing alien invasive plants along the Vaal River.

In a joint statement, the ministries highlighted the urgency of the situation and outlined a comprehensive plan to address it. Immediate short-term interventions include revising the integrated control approach, assessing the use of herbicides registered with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development.

In the medium-term, the focus will be on intensifying compliance and enforcement measures against pollution sources exacerbating the situation. Additionally, long-term interventions will involve a thorough review of the Vaal River Catchment Strategy pertaining to invasive alien aquatic species. The aim is to implement a strategy that offers a holistic approach to managing the issue sustainably.

Furthermore, the refurbishment of the Rietspruit, Sebokeng, and Leeukuil Wastewater Treatment Works will be expedited. This initiative aims to reduce pollution contributing to the high eutrophication levels in the Vaal River System, thus enhancing the overall ecological balance of the region.

The ministries emphasized the importance of deploying multiple control strategies simultaneously, including biological, chemical, and manual removal of alien invasives. Such an approach is deemed essential for achieving a sustainable solution to the challenge at hand.

In response to safety concerns, the spraying of glyphosate over water hyacinth, which has been choking up the Vaal River, has been halted. This decision underscores the commitment to prioritizing safety and environmental preservation in all interventions.

The establishment of the Technical Task Team marks a significant step towards addressing environmental challenges along the Vaal River. By fostering collaboration between relevant stakeholders and implementing a multi-faceted approach, the ministries aim to safeguard the ecological integrity of this vital water resource for present and future generations.

As South Africa continues to grapple with environmental issues, proactive measures such as these are crucial for promoting sustainable development and ensuring the well-being of both people and the planet. Through concerted efforts and effective governance, the country can overcome challenges and pave the way for a greener, healthier future.


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Miriam Matoma

Miriam is a freelance writer, she covers economics and government news for Rateweb. You can contact her on: Email: Twitter: @MatomaMiriam