Concerns about use of glyphosate in Vaal River to combat water lettuce


WaterCAN, an advocate for water conservation and safety, is deeply concerned about Rand Water’s announcement that glyphosate, a herbicide, will be sprayed on the Vaal River to combat the water lettuce and hyacinth problem. According to the organization, this causes great concern for the environment and public health.

RNews previously reported that AfriForum recently worked together with several other organisations, businesses and members of communities to remove more than 1,600 tonnes of water lettuce from the Vaal River.

In a post on Facebook on Monday, Rand Water confirmed its intention to use glyphosate in the Vaal River.

Dr. Simone Dahms-Verster, lecturer at Wits University’s School of Geography, says that despite the assurance that this action in accordance with the approved general authorization of the department of water and sanitation and with technical guidance from the department of forestry, fisheries and the environment, undertaken, WaterCAN remains steadfast in its opposition to this approach.

“To spray glyphosate directly into a freshwater ecosystem is a terribly bad idea. The effects of glyphosate can cause reactive oxygen species and gene mutations in various aquatic species. I can’t believe that it has been approved and will be implemented,” she says.

WaterCAN believes a multi-level approach is needed to tackle the water lettuce and hyacinth infestation in the Vaal River.

“One of the critical components of this approach is to prevent the sewage pollution that flows from Emfuleni – and other surrounding municipalities – into the river. The nitrates found in sewage serve as a fuel for the rapid growth of water lettuce.

“By limiting sewage pollution at the source we can mitigate the influx of nutrients that exacerbate the spread of invasive aquatic plants.”

WaterCAN calls on Rand Water to reconsider its approach and investigate alternative methods to manage the water lettuce and hyacinth infestation.

“Integrated pest management strategies, mechanical removal and biological control options offer environmentally friendly alternatives that reduce damage to ecosystems and promote public health.

“As an organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of water resources, WaterCAN calls on stakeholders to prioritize sustainable solutions that maintain the integrity of the Vaal River ecosystem.”