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The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has committed R341 million to saving the Vaal River, in an effort that is expected to create 2 000 jobs and establish a new catchment management agency.

The DWS recently signed an Implementation Protocol with COGTA in Gauteng, Emfuleni Local Municipality, South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) and the East Rand Water Care Company (ERWAT).

“In terms of the Implementation Protocol, my department appointed ERWAT, which is an entity of the Ekurhuleni Metro, as the implementing agent. As a wastewater specialist company, ERWAT will ensure that all wastewater treatment infrastructure is resuscitated to an operational state and that pollution in the Vaal River is stopped,” said Minister of Water and Sanitation Gugile Nkwinti.

Creating jobs

Nkwinti indicated that R341 million has been allocated for the project, which will facilitate the training of 250 youth and community members in plumbing, carpentry, bricklaying, paving and agriculture. The SANDF will also train 2000 youth and community members to guard 44 pump stations until the completion of the project in March 2020.

Infrastructure upgrades

Minister Nkwinti informed that Module 6 of the Sebokeng Wastewater Treatment Works – a regional bulk sanitation infrastructure that is under construction and projected to be completed by the end of May 2019 – is expected that 120 000 households in the southern part of Gauteng will benefit from Module 6.

Module 7 of the project, which is expected to start by July 2019, will also follow a new empowerment model, the minister explained. This means the DWS’s Construction Unit will have a 51% stake of the project, while 30% will go towards local community beneficiation, local procurement and local job creation. 19% of the project allocation will go towards strategic partners.

Vaal Catchment Management Agency

Nkwinti also announced the establishment of the Vaal Catchment Management Agency in a bid to protect water resources in the area.

The work of the agency will include river monitoring, reporting on pollution incidents and dealing with polluters. It is also expected to also raise awareness and educate citizens on protection of the water resources and environment, local planning with citizens as well as manage the processing of water use licenses.

“The Vaal River Catchment Management Agency will ensure that water is protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner”, he emphasised.

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