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THE QUALITY of river and dam water in Soweto is the worst in the city.
A close second is the Jukskei River flowing through Tembisa, Chartwell and Zandspruit.
Coming a close third is water in Alexandra, Modderfontein, Lombardy East, Athol Wynberg, the Braamfontein Spruit in Sandton, Bruma Lake and Lyndhurst.
The City of Joburg’s infrastructure services and environment committee recently released the findings of its water-quality testing from August to October last year.
It was found that surface water in Region B – around Emmarentia, Westdene and Randburg – as well as Region C – Strydom park, Douglasdale and Little Falls – was the best.
The water quality of the city’s rivers affects the lives and health of residents.
Around Bruma Lake, where foul smells emanate from a highly polluted river, residents complain of headaches from the odours. Water quality also affects communities living close to rivers and who use the water for washing, bathing and recreation.
Improved water quality, says the report, leads to improved recreational facilities such as at Zoo Lake and Thokoza Park, and increases business and tourism investment.
According to the report, the Klip River and Jukskei River catchments are exposed to harmful pollutants, including toxic bacteria, oxygen-demanding wastes, inorganic chemicals and water-soluble radioactive isotopes.
The main source of bacterial pollution is overcrowding and a lack of sanitation in informal settlement areas.
Overflowing and leaking sewers are also an endemic problem in most areas and compromise water quality.
In most cases, run-off water carries the pollution to stormwater drains and, in turn, to dams. Paving and hardened surfaces increase run-off water. Missing and corroded manhole covers result in litter and rubble getting into the stormwater systems.
They block the sewers and cause them to overflow into stormwater culverts.
Other departments are being brought in, such as Pikitup, to clear up illegal dumping, and City Parks to clear their parks.
Sources of industrial pollution are being referred to the environmental health departments of the region.
The Jukskei River – with its major tributaries the Modderfontein Spruit, Klein Jukskei and Sandspruit – flows from the inner city through densely populated sections of Edenvale, Bedfordview, Modderfontein, Randburg, Sandton, Alexandra, Diepsloot and Midrand. It is a major contributor to pollution as it collects rubbish along its course through informal settlements and densely populated and industrial areas.
The river eventually joins the Crocodile River that flows into Hartbeespoort Dam.
The city says it has a plan to improve water quality by establishing a water quality task team in each region.
l Region A (Diepsloot, Midrand, Sunninghill and Fourways): Bacterial water readings were unacceptable and showed a deteriorating bacteriological and chemical water quality because of elevated levels of E.coli and chemicals due to ongoing sewer blockages, especially in the Kaalspruit River system between Tembisa and Ivory Park;
l Region B (Claremont, Northcliff, Riverlea and Randburg): Acceptable levels, except around the Braamfontein Spruit at the Parkview Golf Course, the Russell Stream at Crown Mines and Baragwanath Road, Riverlea;
l Region C (Northriding, Little Falls, Bram Fischerville, Cosmo City, Roodepoort): The water quality is acceptable, except for the Little Jukskei near Zandspruit, Roodepoort West and parts of Dobsonville Gardens;
l Region D (Soweto): All areas are bad, especially around Moroka Dam, Protea, Moroka, Dobsonville, Power Park and Orlando Dam. E.coli is dangerously prevalent, the infrastructure is among the oldest in Joburg and there are constant sewer spills, and the misuse of infrastructure by informal settlements and hostel dwellers;
l Region E (Modderfontein, Alexandra, Wynberg, Sandton): Water quality is bad around the Modderfontein explosives factory site, Lombardy East, Lyndhurst, Bruma Lake, Marlboro, Athol, Wynberg and Forest Farm, and Sandton, with only seven of the 23 testing points proving good;
l Region F (Kensington, Kibler Park, Doornfontein, Parktown, Glenvista, Wemmerpan): Generally good, except at Ophirton and parts of Kibler Park.
l Region G (Ennerdale, Orange Farm, Eldorado Park and Lenasia): Bad quality in Orange Farm around the R551, Finetown, the Lenasia Golf Course and Kliptown, but good in parts of Ennerdale, Poortjie and Olifantsvlei.