WaterCAN raises alarming concerns over Glyphosate usage in Vaal River

WaterCAN raises alarming concerns over Glyphosate usage in Vaal River

A herbicide will be sprayed on the Vaal River to combat the water lettuce and hyacinth problem.

Image: WaterCAN

WaterCAN, a leading advocate for water conservation and safety, is deeply concerned over Rand Water’s announcement that glyphosate, a herbicide, will be sprayed on the Vaal River to combat the water lettuce and hyacinth problem. This raises significant environmental and public health concerns.

On Monday, 12 February, Rand Water confirmed via its Facebook page its intention to use glyphosate over the Vaal River. Despite assurances that this action is being undertaken in accordance with the approved General Authorisation from the Department of Water and Sanitation and with technical guidance from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment, WaterCAN remains steadfast in its opposition to this approach.

“Spraying glyphosate directly into a freshwater ecosystem is a terrible idea. The effects of glyphosate and its metabolites can cause reactive oxygen species and gene mutations in various aquatic species. I cannot believe that this was approved and is going forward,” said Dr Simone Dahms-Verster, lecturer at Wits University School of Geography.

WaterCAN believes that a multifaceted approach is needed to address the water lettuce and hyacinth infestation in the Vaal River. One of the critical components of this approach is tackling sewage pollution flowing into the river from Emfuleni and other surrounding municipalities. The nitrates present in sewage serve as fuel for the rapid growth of water lettuce. By addressing sewage pollution at its source, we can mitigate the nutrient influx that exacerbates the proliferation of invasive aquatic plants.

“The community living along the Vaal River has been manually taking the water lettuce out,” says  Dr Ferrial Adam, Executive Manager at WaterCAN. “Their efforts demonstrate the commitment to preserving the health of the river and its ecosystems. It’s imperative that their dedication is acknowledged and supported through sustainable, community-led initiatives.

“Spraying is a short-term solution and a long-term polluting disaster. We urge stakeholders to prioritise sustainable solutions that address the root causes of the water lettuce and hyacinth infestation. Halting sewage pollution from Emfuleni and neighbouring municipalities is paramount in reducing nutrient loading and curbing the growth of water lettuce.”

WaterCAN calls on Rand Water to reconsider its approach and explore alternative methods for managing the water lettuce and hyacinth infestation. Integrated pest management strategies, mechanical removal, and biological control options offer environmentally friendly alternatives that minimise harm to ecosystems and safeguard public health.

As an organisation dedicated to the protection and preservation of water resources, WaterCAN urges stakeholders to prioritise sustainable solutions that uphold the integrity of the Vaal River ecosystem.

 

About WaterCAN:
WaterCAN is a dedicated environmental organisation committed to preserving and protecting South Africa’s water resources. With a mission to promote responsible water management and raise awareness about water quality, the organisation empowers communities to become proactive stewards of their local water sources. If you would like to support our work, kindly Donate Here.

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