The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) is dealing with the sewage spillage into the Vaal River in the Bloemhof area in the North West.
The DWA is, together with colleagues from the Lekwa Teemane Local Municipality, the district municipality and the provincial Department of Health, drew water samples from the main reservoir, the source and neighbouring schools to test for pollution and what infections could arise. While it is suspected that the water contains E Coli bacteria, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has ruled out cholera.
A decision was made to suspend the flow of tap water in order to reduce all possibility of the community drinking what could be polluted water supplies. The local municipality drained their whole system, cleaned their sand filters, and on Friday 30 May flushed their system. The community is currently receiving water by means of water tankers.
Despite this, water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane has confirmed that a diarrhoea outbreak in the area is the result of the contaminated water. Three babies have died and hundreds have been treated for diarrhoea, eNCA reported.
Municipal manager suspended
Amid the water crisis, Lekwa Teemane Local Municipality Municipal Manager Andrew Makuapan has been suspended pending the outcome of a forensic investigation, whose preliminary report is to serve before a special meeting of the Provincial Executive Council (Exco), North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo confirmed.
Makuapan’s suspension follows a meeting involving Premier Mahumapelo, Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane and the Exco Intervention task team established by the Premier to look into challenges facing the municipality.
A joint task team that includes the Exco task team and the Ministry of Water and Sanitation has been established to look into the ailing infrastructure, funding model for the municipality, governance and administrative challenges facing the municipality and sanitation spillage into the water pipes that has resulted in contamination of water.
Two task teams have been set up to deal with the crisis: a technical team to look into technical failures and a communications team that will engage the community to ensure compliance with health and hygiene practices prevent infections.
“The Department of Water Affairs is committed to continue being a part of this process and particularly provide rapid response type of support in order to ensure proper assessment and advise accordingly on the kind of remedial action to be undertaken going forward as necessitated by this unfortunate incident,” the DWA said in a statement.