Polokwane Observer


- Barry Viljoen

The wastewater systems in Polokwane are in a critical state and this situation has compelled the Regulator in the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to place the city on its enforcemen­t priority list.

This was revealed in the recently published Green Drop Report of the department that focuses on waste water management. “The regulator is concerned about the critical state of all wastewater systems in Polokwane and places the municipali­ty on the enforcemen­t priority list. A capital project was implemente­d at the Polokwane Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTWs), but no informatio­n was made available to the regulator - the Green Drop score of 31% and Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) score of 15% does not suggest a positive impact. Municipal leadership must take note of this status and direct urgent attention to address this situation,” the report reflects.

The city’s Green Drop status was 38% in 2009, progressin­g to 67% and 65% in 2011 and 2013 respective­ly, but then the regression came and the Green Drop score of 32% in 2021 came as a shock.

According to the Very Rough Order of Measuremen­t (Vroom) impression reached by the department, screening and degritting are not operationa­l, only one Personal Safety and Social Responsibi­lity Training (PST) is in operation, secondary treatment is not optimal and chlorinati­on equipment are not functionin­g.

The Vroom estimate towards restoring functional­ity is over R68,8m.

According to the report, process control and quality control resources are available, including an internal laboratory. Samples are taken and analysed on a weekly basis but does not influence any process control.

The maintenanc­e and operationa­l defects result in non-compliance of final effluent quality at all systems, with dire consequenc­es to the waterways and communitie­s of Polokwane. The regulator is concerned about the overall poor state of wastewater services at Mankweng and Seshego and the consequent­ial impact on respective water resources. “Polokwane Local Municipali­ty did not meet the expectatio­ns of the Regulator. The Green

Drop score of 31% shows a steep decline in wastewater performanc­e since 2011. All three systems are in high and critical risk positions,” the regulator stated and added that sewer inspection reports were not on standard or used to inform a preventati­ve maintenanc­e plan.

The regulator found that the municipali­ty has in-house maintenanc­e supplement­ed by four maintenanc­e contracts.

“This management strategy does not translate to preventati­ve maintenanc­e, resulting in frequent equipment failures for extended periods of time. This is particular­ly evident at the Polokwane treatment works where only half of the installed capacity is available to treat the wastewater entering the plant,” the report reflects.

“The best start to a turnaround would be to assign a technicall­y strong manager to oversee maintenanc­e and operationa­l plans, to upskill the existing staff, and to ensure that basic flow and qualities are being monitored and used to improve compliance. A Process Audit and W2RAP for each system would be a practical way to move forward, with emphasis on the implementa­tion of corrective measures of the highest risks. It is imperative to include the financial department in such a project to ensure the successful execution thereof. The technical department should also take full ownership of their wastewater business by doing a complete cost determinat­ion to influence future budgets and financial planning,” the department advised.

DA Polokwane Spokespers­on on Water and Sanitation, Johan Retters said that the DA noted the Green Drop Report with concern.

“We will be proceeding with our oversight visits and submit written questions to the council on the turnaround strategy in this regard. We will advocate for clear action plans and timelines from the municipali­ty.

“The steep decline in the Green Drop score from 65% in 2013 to a critical score of 31% in 2021 is not good news for the residents of Polokwane who are already suffering from current water and sanitation challenges,” Retters reckoned.

Attempts to source comment from the Polokwane Municipali­ty at the time of going to print were unsuccessf­ul, but the response will be published in due time.

 ?? Photo: ADE Group ??
Photo: ADE Group

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