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Concern has been raised about the state of the country’s rivers, as it’s estimated that the water is being polluted by billions of litres of raw sewage on a daily basis.

Experts believe that this is reaching crisis levels.

While issues have been noted in Hartbeespoort Dam in North West and the Vaal River in Gauteng, DA spokesperson on agriculture and rural development in KwaZulu-Natal, Christopher Pappas, said rivers in KZN were also affected.

“Many of our rural communities and farmers who still rely on water from our rivers are negatively affected by the decreasing quality of water.

“Further downstream, the quality of water affects tourism, beaches and the quality of water in our ocean,” he said to IOL.

Pappas said harmful bacteria in rivers have detrimental effects on agriculture and rural communities. He noted that recent issues with the contamination of the Umzimkulwana River in Harding where there have been reports of diarrhoea outbreaks in which at least 54 patients were treated.

He further said that in KwaMasi, there were farmers, animals and residents that shared from the same dwindling and contaminated water sources.

Pappas said the state was the biggest culprit of sewage and contaminants entering the system.

“We need to maintain and expand our infrastructure and capacity to deliver on basic services by ensuring that municipalities are supported financially and in terms of technical expertise,” Pappas said to IOL.

Earlier this month, the Department of Water and Sanitation embarked on a massive cleanup campaign to educate communities on the importance of clean rivers.

Departmental spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said while they were unaware of issues with the Umzimkulwana River, they called on residents to come forward with information about such cases.

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