SA’s water treatment works are in a poor to critical state and monitoring water quality was also becoming an increasing problem.
These were among some of the issues the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research [CSIR] raised on Wednesday.
CSIR senior researcher specialising in water quality and aquatic ecology James Dabrowski said there were 8 000 different pesticide products registered in the country.
“The Department of Water Affairs is responsible for registering them, but does not look at how it will impact water quality. The water department has to try and figure out how to monitor and deal with those things,” he said.
Monitoring the country’s water quality was also “an incredibly difficult task logistically”.
This was done by collecting regular samples from the hundreds of monitoring points that formed part of the water department’s National Chemical Monitoring Programme.
All the samples had to be sent to one laboratory for testing. Dabrowski cited research that only 41% of the samples collected as part of the programme were of an acceptable quality.
He said about half the country’s waste water treatment works were in a poor to critical state, due to infrastructure, capacity, and governance issues.
Due to urbanisation, the treatment plants could not handle the volume of effluent.
“It’s an infrastructure problem that will need large amounts of money to sort out.”
Other problems related to the manner in which water was managed, with CSIR researchers saying that players in the water sector were responding to problems in a fragmented way.
The National Water Act and the Blue and