Sewage spills at Cradock are costing farmers dearly

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Raw sewage flowing into the Fish River from a damaged sewage station in Cradock.

Photo: Joseph Chirume (Archives)

The Green Drop report for 2022 says there is a price tag of over R8.4 billion to clean up over 60% of South Africa’s sewage and wastewater systems which have been classified as in a “bad to critical” condition. .

Cradock is one of the towns that has suffered from ‘bad and critical’ sewage and waste water systems and even steady delivery of drinking water for the past eight years, from Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) – based 152 km from Cradock – withdrew responsibility for these services from the local municipality of Inxuba Yethemba (IYM) on July 1, 2014.

Maintenance of the sewage system stopped shortly after the takeover, and apart from spills into the streets and blocked sewers, raw sewage began flowing into the Great Fish River, transmitting the problems to nearby dairy farmers, who suffered huge losses due to contaminated water. .

These farmers do not want their names mentioned but all agree that they tried to fight the case through meetings and letters from lawyers at first but the majority have now given up hope of ‘a solution. “For the past five years, all of our demands and protests have fallen on deaf ears,” one said.

“Dirty water, containing E. coli, harms the health of our animals and although the cows are inoculated and their milk tested regularly, the calves are born very weak and we lose a lot of them. I had some of my dead calves and those with severe diarrhea tested and everything pointed to the poison in the water,” said another.

Another dairy farmer, who once let his cows drink water from the river or out of the furrow, had to change this process. “I have now discovered that there is also E. coli in the boreholes near the river,” he said.

The success of the Fish River Canoe Marathon, which brings much-needed cash flow to the town, has been nearly compromised by the malfunctioning of the sewage system. Although the marathon finish line was well upstream of the sewage treatment plant, raw sewage from the prison, almost opposite the finish line, began flowing directly into the river.

The marathon committee managed to solve the problem, just in time. An article published a few weeks ago in an English daily newspaper in Gqeberha even indicated that it might be E. coli from the Cradock wastewater treatment plant which contaminated the water at Gqeberha.

CHDM media representative Bulelwa Ganyaza acknowledged receipt of an email asking for an update on the sewage issue on the CHDM side, but despite further requests never gave it. after.

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