Steps towards addressing municipalities' non-compliance with the law relating to sewage treatment.
Since 1956 South Africa made it mandatory through the South African Water Act (Act 54 of 1956) that effluent be treated to acceptable standards and returned to the water course from where the water was originally obtained. As the demand for water increased due to economic expansion and population growth, wastewater and sewage treatment plants increasingly operated under stress. This situation in turn exerted pressure on water and sanitation authorities to find ways to sustain the quality of water resources. Post 1994, the right to sufficient and safe water, is enshrined in the country’s Constitution and is prioritised by government. However, there still exist some alarming facts about water quality management in South Africa. In 2010 and in 2012 the Department of Water Affairs released the Green Drop Progress Reports which reported on the South African Waste Water Quality Management Performance. The results suggest that the quality of water in the country is not of an acceptable standard. Central to problem of water quality in South Africa is the inability of state institutions to react to conflict surrounding the delivery of services for domestic use, especially at a municipal level. In this respect both scarcity and pollution of water resources are playing crucial roles. The problem of water scarcity in South Africa is aggravated by the inability of municipalities to manage existing water resources. This research will investigate what the law can do in a situation where it is an organ of state, more specifically a municipality that is causing pollution through insufficiently treated waste water that pollutes fresh water resources.
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