THE Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has accused local authorities and industry of not taking environmental issues seriously saying this was exacerbating water pollution with millions of raw sewage litres being discharged into water bodies.
A recent survey by Ema showed that close to 400 million litres of raw sewage was being discharged into water bodies including Umguza River, Lake Manyame, Lake Chivero and Sebakwe Dam .
This has resulted in the quality of potable water in some urban areas in Harare, Midlands, Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces being compromised.
In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Ema national spokesperson Amkela Sidange said on top of dilapidated sewer infrastructure countrywide most local authorities and some sections of industry do not treat environmental issues as critical.
“Water pollution crisis is a national issue that needs urgent attention starting from local authorities, industries and other stakeholders. These parties need to collaborate to avert this crisis that has seen the discharging of raw sewage in the majority of water bodies including those that provide drinking water to the country’s major cities.
“One of the challenges that Ema noted is the trivialisation of environmental issues by local authorities and other stakeholders. There is absence of properly engineered waste dumping facilities (landfills) for both general and hazardous waste which shows how such issues are not taken seriously,” Sidange said.
She accused local authorities of not putting in place deterrent environmental laws against offenders.
Sidange said while Ema was the overseer of environmental law enforcement; for effectiveness, it had to work hand in hand with other law enforcement agencies such as police, traditional leaders and key stakeholders that include local authorities.
“There is also a need to review the existing legislature to incorporate among other issues deterrent fines and sentences to those found violating existing regulations,” she said, adding that Ema was embarking on key programmes towards water pollution reduction such as licencing effluent and solid waste disposal by local authorities, industries and mines.
“This allows the agency to effectively enforce waste quality and management standards through regular compliance inspections and environmental audits”