Objective of the flight:

The objective of the flight was to observe the extent of environmental damage caused by raw sewage being pumped out in close proximity of boreholes supplying water to Mookgophong/Naboomspruit as well as the Nyl River floodplain and wetlands and to take photos as evidence to be presented to the applicable authorities.

Report from the beneficiary:

“The background that led to this drastic action is as follows:

Raw sewage started to overflow from manholes in the gardens of residents of Extention 6 (RDP houses) in 2008. The problem spread further when farmer’s dam that supplied drinking water to his cattle started to fill with the raw sewage. The Technical Manager as well as the Social and Environmental Manager of Mookgophong and the Health Inspector of the Waterberg District Council visited the site. (A photo taken from the plane on this mission indicated that on 18 August 2013 this problem was still not solved).

On the 6th of November 2009 the Community Forum called for a meeting between DWAF, the Municipality Manager and the community to address this same problem. At this meeting the Community Forum was not allowed to address the problem as the Municipal Manager and DWAF representative refused to allow this. The municipality and the DWAF representative had a private meeting prior to the meeting with Community Forum.

On the 26th of January 2010 a complaint was lodged with the local SAPS and case number MAS153/01/2010 was opened for the spilling of raw sewage on farmland. Nothing happened.

In February 2010 tests were done (Escherichia coli Bacteria count per 100ml Method applied MMP 8) on the water in the farmer’s dam,  at the CSIR with the following results:

Inlet of the dam: 8685

Outlet of the dam: 2640

During 2011 the sewage kept overflowing and the municipality was informed on various occasions. On the 9th of November 2011 a letter from the head of Afriforum Environmental Affairs was delivered to the municipality and they acknowledged receipt thereof with date stamp dated 9th November 2011.

On the 20th of December the farmer and the Afriforum branch contacted the municipality and in particular the Technical Manager about a severe sewage spill. He informed them that the staff was on holiday and on their return in January 2012 the problem will be addressed. This was not the case.

In June 2012 two officials from Limpopo (DWA Polokwane) visited the Community Forum and enquired whether the spillage problems identified since 2008 have been solved. They were given all the documents and letters that were sent to various people and till today no word or feedback from them was received.

In the Technical report of the Acting Technical Manager the following was recorded on page 43 of the Council Agenda:

“Pump no.2: Motor out of order since 4 November 2012” on page 45 the following: ”The situation is worsened by the fact that only 1 instead of two pumps are in operation for recycling of sludge”.

Since the 5th of August 2013 thousands litres of raw sewage has been pumped into a storm water channel on its way to the Nyl River.

The following organisations have been informed of the latest events:

–       Afriforum

–       Community Forum

–       Minister of Water Affairs

–       Friends of the Nyl

–       Birdlife SA

–       Centre for Environmental Rights (CER)

I would like to commend our pilot, Hill van Schalkwyk, for his professional conduct. Thank you Hill.”

Report from the pilot:

“The objective of this mission was to determine the seriousness of the alleged sewage spill into the Nyl River near Naboomspruit.  The negative effect of such neglect is clear if the system is appreciated and understood. The Nyl River is fed mostly by smaller tributaries flowing from the Waterberg Massif that flow roughly north-eastwards into a wide and shallow plain with a very feeble gradient. The main stream is known as Groot Nyl and has its sources to the east of Bela-Bela (Warmbad). Its most important tributaries are the Olifantspruit and the Tobiasspruit. Other tributaries are the Klein Nyl, Middelfonteinspruit, Hessie-se-Water, De Wet Zyn Loop, Bad se Loop, Andriesspruit, Kotjie se Loop and the Dorpspruit.

The Nyl plain is seasonally flooded and is full of reeds and other aquatic plants. It is known as Nylsvlei, (from the word vlei usually applied to intermittent lakes), for the main course in its midst flows north-eastwards very slowly. Further on it bends northwards as the north-leaning gradient of the river tilts to a sharper angle. Finally the Nyl becomes the Mogalakwena River shortly before the Dorpspruit joins the right bank of the stream.

The two passengers Phillip and Lucas from the Naboomspruit Community Forum met me at the Pietersburg Private Airfield at 07h00 on the 18th of August 2013. We planned to do the survey early as fairly strong winds are usually present in the area later in the day. We entered the Nyl River area to the north east of Mokopane [Potgietersrus] and had a beautiful view of the Nyl valley towards the south. My passengers pointed me straight to the area of concern and it was clear that the problem is serious. We overflew the area a few times to ensure they get the relevant information and to familiarise themselves with the circumstances.

It was clear that the situation is serious and the absolute lack of any procedures to prevent or rectify the spill was eminent! It was impressive to see members of the public be so passionate to protect and preserve their environment.

They appreciated the effort of the Bateleurs to assist them in bringing this serious neglect to the attention of the relevant authorities.

We were back on the ground after a 1, 5 hour most enjoyable flight. I would like to thank the Bateleurs once more for the opportunity to be part of this endeavour.”