Joburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba, has the estimated 280 hijacked buildings in the inner city in his sights for cleaning up. Overdue, but a huge challenge that none of the previous city administrations seemed willing to tackle.
In the year since ARMOUR (Action for Responsible Management of Our Rivers) was formed to give “a voice to water”, the situation in the Jukskei-Crocodile catchment area has deteriorated. This, despite a programme for rehabilitation of Northern Waste Water Works put in place almost a year ago by Joburg Water. The current sewerage-ridden Jukskei is a combination of delays in the maintenance and rehabilitation work at Northern Works and three additional factors that could take several months to resolve. This situation has left those affected deeply concerned, angry and cynical about the management of the Jukskei catchment area.
The City of Johannesburg is required by the Department of Water and Sanitation to reduce its water usage by 15% with immediate effect, as water levels at our source (Integrated Vaal River System) have dropped to alarming levels.
This mandatory mitigation measure on water usage has been triggered by on-going drought and unusual warmer conditions.
PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THE SMS SERVICE:
Joburg Water sends sms direct to targeted residents where their database makes this possible. For example, when a reservoir is running dry residents are requested by sms to choke back demand.
Interventions in place to help reduce high water usage:
Level-2 water use restrictions according to section 44 (3) of the Water Services By-law states that consumers are compelled:
• Not to water their garden between 06:00 and 18:00;
• Not to use irrigation systems, only a hand held hose or bucket is permitted during watering times;
• Not to fill swimming pools with municipal water; and
• Not to use hosepipes to wash their cars or to clean paved areas and driveways with water.
The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) will issue fines for non-compliance. Residents can report on non-compliance by phoning their 24/7 line 011 758 9650
ARMOUR began as a reaction to the ongoing sewerage discharges into the lower Jukskei, and hence the Crocodile River and Hartbeespoort Dam in July/August last year. The first step was to put pressure on the authorities to act immediately. A petition was organized, over 400 people signed and it was sent to over 80 local, provincial and national authorities, NGOs and media. The response came from several directions, including the Green Scorpions who visited Northern Works within a couple of days of the petition landing. Within about a month, Joburg Water had secured budget and was planning rehabilitation work at the Northern Works. This was many years overdue. The next step was to maintain the pressure. ARMOUR (Action for Responsible Management of Our Rivers) emerged as a commitment to hold water resources’ managements accountable for their mandate to maintain clean and safe ground water, wetlands and rivers.
To date, four of us have carried ARMOUR - Mark Mc Clue, Willem Hazewindus, Helen (Duigan) and I. The intent is to keep the campaign lean and to focus on the greater vision of achieving clean rivers and water resources by being a strong “voice for water”. Once a month we meet with senior officials from Joburg Water and Dept of Water and Sanitation to review where there are problems, who is accountable and what action is being taken, and then monitor for satisfactory implementation. The focus of activity has been largely on the Jukskei River and the problems experienced upstream and in Northern Works. We have had two public meetings where concerned people had opportunity for direct interaction with officials.
ARMOUR is a catalyst - to bring interested parties together, to build coalitions for integrated water stewardship
o Build networks and partnerships with the academic community, civil society and communities
o Take a consistent message re water to the authorities, to business, to communities.
o Build credible membership of the CoJ Business Forum (Sustainability Sub-Committee)
o Maintain active involvement in the IDP processes wherever possible to represent “a consistent voice for water”
o Lobby for long-term Water Services Development Plans to be part of integrated water management in municipalities
o Support whistleblowing and calling authorities and business to account
o Build a corps of river-watchers
o Stick to a simple three-step method for tackling issues
o Develop a Knowledge Centre (a Circle of Experts - the head of the octopus) with a toolkit that can be transferred to areas wanting to be “a voice for water”
o Ensure the ethos remains the defining culture - a consistent voice for water; support/challenge; three-step approach to dealing with issues