Grade 8 school pupils engage in a hands-on experience on innovative water cleaning techniques. Photos supplied by Johannesburg Zoo & City Parks

JOHANNESBURG - Three groups of enthusiastic Grade 8 school pupils were invited by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo to engage in a hands-on experience this week of the innovative water cleaning techniques used to prepare for the upcoming Hollard JUMA and JURA trail running and mountain biking events.

“If we are giving permission for events to go down into stormwater drains, it is also our responsibility to keep those areas clean. The idea of getting schools involved is to educate future generations about open space management and sensitivities regarding our natural resources," Johannesburg City Parks new business development executive manager Louis Gordon said.

Over the years, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo, in partnership with Hollard and the JUMA and JURA events, had used Bokashi balls to purify the Braamfontein Spruit, ridding it of harmful toxins not only for riders and runners, but everyone who enjoyed Johannesburg’s outdoor spaces.

"Our mandate is not to create races or events, but rather to create lifestyle spaces where sustainable events like these can flourish. We’ve seen a direct correlation between outdoor events and the resulting community engagement in our parks,” Gordon said, adding there was no better place than a park to plant the seeds that would grow a more eco-conscious generation.

Grade 8 school pupils engage in a hands-on experience on innovative water cleaning techniques. Photos supplied by Johannesburg Zoo & City Parks

"Learners from Realogile Secondary School, JBG Roosevelt Park High School, and Saxonwold Primary School were invited down to Mushroom Park, Zoo Lake, and the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens, where they were met by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo MD Bryne Maduka, MMC Nonhlanhla Sifumba, and senior training facilitator Ben Masalesa," he said

Masalesa was on hand to explain water quality and testing and the role Bokashi Balls played in ensuring that the green belt stayed green. “The balls are created from a mixture that includes bran, wheat bran, molasses, and a combination of various bacteria. The balls sink to the bottom where they slowly release effective microbes (EM) for up to a month, significantly improving water quality. The EM consumes odour-causing toxins and breaks down waste, ultimately restoring the water to its proper ecological balance,” he said.

Grade 8 school pupils engage in a hands-on experience on innovative water cleaning techniques. Photos supplied by Johannesburg Zoo & City Parks.

The 180 pupils were given a Bokashi ball each to distribute into the waterways, and with each ball cleaning about 1000 cubic metres of water over its lifespan they’ve left 180.000 cubic metres of Johannesburg’s water cleaner and fresher than before. Extending the lesson further, each pupil received a Bokashi sachet to take to add to their cistern or water system at home.

Grade 8 school pupils engage in a hands-on experience on innovative water cleaning techniques. Photos supplied by Johannesburg Zoo & City Parks.

Speaking after the event, Realogile Secondary School teacher Kate Moxemi said the initiative provided a great day out for the children. “It was great for the kids to get out of the classroom and into the park. Our students learnt how important it is to preserve the purity of the rivers and dams around us and how they too can play a role in making the world better. Overall it was a fun and educational day.”

The dedication to the heart of Johannesburg will continue at the Hollard Urban Adventure Weekend with 8000 sachets given away to participants at the event, so that each runner, rider, and spectator could positively impact the water in their neighbourhoods. The Hollard JUMA and JURA, punted as South Africa’s most unique trail run and mountain biking experience, will take place on June 2 and 3.

African News Agency/ANA