The Vaal River Barrage, South Africa’s hardest working water way: an historical contemplation

11 January 2011

South Africa’s Vaal River is the country’s hardest working rivers. It has been instrumental in securing valuable water supplies in the development of the country’s economic hub – the Gauteng Province. Since the mid-twentieth century there have been increasing indications of water pollution threatening the storage facility of the Vaal River Barrage, built by the water utility, Rand Water, at the start of the twentieth century. Currently, as a result of a variety of factors, untreated wastewater is posing a severe environmental threat in the Vaal River Barrage Catchment area. In the article attention is given to the origins of pollution and recent events that had the effect of mobilising grassroots anger in civil society with the state of affairs. The article forms part of a transdisciplinary research project that is currently conducted at North-West University’s Vaal Triangle campus in Vanderbijlpark.