The Deputy Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation last week announced a new remediation plan for the Hartbeespoort Dam during a visit to Hartbeespoort.
This includes the revival of the former successful Harties metsi a Me remediation programme that was stopped in 2016, leading to the dam’s deterioration.
Deputy Minister David Mahlobo said the need was identified in 2019 to revive the programme and re-establish Hartbeespoort Dam Steering Committee (HDSC) to serve as the oversight mechanism.
The minister, accompanied by the MEC of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism in the North West, Kenetswe Mosenogi attended the meeting, coordinated by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (DEDECT) in the North West Province, met with stakeholders and members of the Hartbeespoort community in a bid to offer solutions to the current challenges being experienced at the dam.
“The Hartbeespoort Dam has a lot of economic opportunities and the ability to host a range of sport and leisure activities, but in its current state those opportunities and activities are severely compromised,” said Mahlobo. He bemoaned the condition of the dam due to debris and hyacinth, and said much of the pollution is due to culprits upstream that dump and discharge untreated effluent continuously into the rivers leading to the dam.
He stressed that the situation must be addressed “with a sense of urgency” and after an investigation into who or what contribute to the pollution, the culprits “must pay.” “Criminal cases must be opened against them.”
“The community around the dam is not happy, they think we are sleeping on the job. Die dam is owned by DWS and it is our problem. This is part of the Magaliesbeg Biosphere and in line with the President’s economic recovery plan, tourism is an important issue. It is thus important that we fix this problem. The matter must not end here, it must end on the President’s desk,” he said.
Mahlobo met with stakeholders in October 2020 and instructed the department to develop a costed action plan after consultation with DEDECT and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), -and submit it for approval. “We have decided to revive the Hartbeespoort Dam Steering Committee and there should be meetings every two months to determine the progress.” He said he was not satisfied with the current plan. “We need a long term solution, and that is to stop the pollution of the dam.”
MEC Mosenogi said the department currently has R4 million available for the programme. “In the short term, we immediately need to employ people to work with Working for Water to start removing hyacinth and debris.”
According to a remediation action plan presented at the meeting, hyacinth control activities will include manual harvesting by teams appointed by the DEA, biological control and participation of private roleplayers and the steering committee.
Regarding water quality, a water quality monitoring plan is to be established that will monitor water quality on a monthly basis.
The remediation action plan will also include addressing illegal discharge activities in the dam catchment area and addressing illegal land use at the dam.
The minister also stressed that equitable access to the dam is part of the plan.
MEC Keneetse Mosenogi urged officials from both Departments to intensify their compliance inspection as this will assist in identifying those polluting the dam and necessary steps can be taken to remedy the situation. In addition she requested the team to revise their plan and identify programmes that will create jobs and alleviate poverty within the local community.
The minister and MEC will now engage Deputy President David Mabuza to seek an intervention similar to the one he made in the Emfuleni matter, and the visit is planned for January 2021.