|2012 07 04 Residents take municipality to court over polluted water|
JOHANNESBURG - The Federation for a Sustainable Environment and the Silobela Concerned Community group took Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and local authorities to court after residents were left without drinkable water since January when their water was declared unfit for human consumption.
This was because of pollution caused by coal mines in the area which leaked high levels of manganese, aluminium, iron and sulphate into the town's main water source the Boesmans Spruit Dam.
Water was initially carted in and stored in tanks while a long term solution was sought by the municipality's task team and Water Affairs rapid response unit, but residents complained that the supply was not regular and did not meet national standards.
The availability of fresh water, particularly in the Silobela township, became so limited that it resulted in service delivery protests in May during which water tanks were damaged and residents arrested.
Counsel for the applicants, Jason Brickhill, argued that of the 12 water tanks placed in Silobela, only three presently had water and were accessible to the public.
He said the tap water in the area still posed serious long term health risks to the public and the measures taken by the Albert Luthuli municipality were totally inadequate.
He argued that the minimum standards required by legislation was 25 litres of water per person per day available within 200 metres of each residence, but some residents had no access to clean water at all.
He said it was clear that both the national and district municipality have pledged financial support to address the water problem in Carolina. The municipality would clearly have to come up with a long term solution to address the water pollution problem, he argued.
The municipality in turn accused residents of playing a political game and having ulterior motives by destroying the help that was offered and then rushing to court.
It was argued that the tap water was about to be declared safe and that the five litres of water the municipality was providing per person per day was adequate.
Ilse De Lange