PICS: Hennops river drowning in pollution
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Tarryn Johnston of the Hennops Revival organisation, told the Pretoria News the lockdown had reversed the progress that had been made in recent months by clean-ups as these were not allowed under level 5.
“Under level 5 we were completely locked down and couldn’t do any river cleaning, and under level 4 we managed to do just one clean-up - on my birthday! - after I applied for permission, as it fell under the regulations for waste picking.
“At this point, water quality seems extremely bad, you can see the raw sewage even more,” she said.
“It’s so disgusting, you would think with lockdown there would be a change, but the amount of rubbish remains the same. At this point it’s bad, really bad.”
Johnston said going forward, due to Covid-19, during clean-ups all in attendance would be screened as they arrived, sanitised and given personal protective equipment such as gloves, sanitiser and masks to ensure all who participated stayed safe.
“We’ve got quite a lot of plans to intensify the clean-up and revival of the Hennops, and we’re looking at a lot of collaborations with the private sector, government and other like-minded non-profit organisations.
“Hopefully we’ll get rid of Poly Island (a man-made island of polystyrene and plastic) now that it’s winter, as it will be dry and it’s not as high as it was in January.”
Johnston said engagements on plans were ongoing and would be fruitful as levels dropped and they could be implemented.”
“We need urgent attention paid to this, because it’s terrible and looks about 35 metres long and a metre or two high, and that’s not how it should be. We shouldn’t have to set our eyes on such things,” she said.
In early February a decade’s worth of sediment, more than 50000m³, had accumulated in Centurion lake which is on the river. This forced the metro to open the weirs.
Plans were made to start removing silt from the northern and southern stretches as well as the silted up area in front of the Centurion Hotel, in a bid to create channels on either side of the lake and improve speedy water flow through the lake and stormwater drainage.
In the meantime, the metro has been looking to have a rehabilitation process with minimal downstream impact and there has been constant contact with the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation to ensure that all processes are done in accordance with its Water Use Licence.