YELLOWFISH WORKING GROUP - YWG January/February 2020 newsletter

 Dear YWG supporter,

Our news items include:



World Fish Migration Day

This year it will be on 16th May and we hear that a number of events are being planned in South Africa to raise awareness on the importance of free-flowing rivers and migratory fish. More information at

The Mid-Vaal crisis by Chris Williams.

Focusing on the positives, this past week the Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation visited the mid Vaal sewage and water treatment works for the first time. In the ensuing and other recent meetings both she and the DWS have been woken into reality. This is largely due to the efforts of several pressure groups. In particular of the SAVE The Vaal Environment and their court orders taken out against municipal and government offenders and also by national and international media mainly thanks to the brave band of investigative journalists. Without these two principal drivers there would probably not be any government action currently taking place to restore the Vaal environment and the sewage/water treatment works.

Government has requested SAVE to defer any court order action and for a review to take place this April. In the meantime, SAVE has agreed to this on the basis that the government in the meantime communicates transparently with SAVE and the public and that there is actual work being done and progress made. In the meantime, government and the local municipality has established ERWAT (East Rand Water Care) as their ‘task team’ to deal with the crisis. ERWAT initially employed the SANDF end of last year and who will be finishing up end this month. They have told government there needs to be a holistic approach and business plan not simply odd jobs of sticking on bandages. ERWAT have started fixing up some works and plants with the currently meagre budget of R147 million allocated to them for the first few months of this year. There is talk of R2 billion government funding to be shortly forthcoming.

First prize would be for the remediation to be allocated on a transparent basis to private specialist companies. As with Eskom, this just ain’t gonna happen – certainly not in the foreseeable future. Government/municipal departments simply lack expertise and passion, leaving aside for now discussion of the political problems and of the corruption/theft epidemic. But we as YWG have to deal with things as they are not with things as they should be.

The writer is on the SAVE committee representing YWG/FOSAF and all you Vaal fly fishers out there. As such there is now a working two-way relationship between SAVE and ERWAT. ERWAT are starting to get things done and are gradually making slow progress. We as YWG/FOSAF will not let up our endeavours on your behalf. We are still at the lower rungs of the ladder going upwards. But at least we are on the ladder!

As many/most of you will know E.coli, blue-green algae and algal pigment counts are still way above safe levels. It’s going to be slow progress to restore our beloved Vaal and fish/fishing back to anything like environmental norms but at least we’ve begun.

Please contact us should you wish for any further details or wish to provide input or assistance. Please if you haven’t yet, join FOSAF by going to and click on JOIN . Without your support we wouldn’t be where we are today.

 Kind regards,


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