It has been almost three months since many of you attended the Jukskei-Crocodile River information session at Driefontein Works, Muldersdrift (26 November). I sent out a brief report of this meeting which recorded the establishment of a Jukskei River Water Forum that would meet monthly with three aims in mind:
- to maintain pressure on Joburg Water to deliver permanent solutions to the ongoing sewage discharges into the Jukskei River
- to provide detailed plans and timelines to tackle the greater problems affecting the Jukskei-Crocodile system as a whole
- to be solution-focussed.
My apologies for the silence from my side since we began to put pressure on the City of Joburg with the Jukskei sewage petition late last year.
We have had one meeting of the Forum so far - on 27 January. I received the minutes of this meeting only yesterday and attach them here for you. We are having our second meeting tomorrow (Wednesday). The meeting are contained, with a strong official presence (five officials from Joburg Water, two from CoJ environmental services and officials from Department of Water and Sanitation and Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development). The intention is to have a broader public feedback meeting, with these officials, two or three times a year.
I will feedback on all the Forum monthly meetings.
The meetings, as stated above, will deal with specific problems that can make a difference and then get commitment to the solutions, with deadlines. A major challenge is the lack of budget for waste-water and pollution-fighting actions. This is where citizen action will have to bring pressure to bear on the CoJ to set aside the funding needed for proper protection and use of water resources.
Some comments on the minutes:
- Even a quick overview will show an absolute legion of systemic problems affecting the Jukskei that cannot be tackled all at once. Prioritising is needed.
- The pressure that the petition put on the CoJ and Joburg Water paid dividends. The normal tender process was fast-tracked to accelerate vital maintenance work.
- It is clear the officials would like to do much more but are constrained by a lack of budget and, probably, a lack of political will and support.
ARMOUR (Action for Responsible Management of Our Rivers) began out of what is happening to the Jukskei - and quickly discovered that the same challenges are affecting the rivers across Gauteng. While the immediate focus is the Jukskei-Crocodile river system, the ultimate aim is to extend the pressure and focus to all river systems in Gauteng. As a result, I’m copying people who are currently dealing with river and water pollution problems in other parts of Gauteng.
I’d appreciate your views and feedback.
Yours - for now
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