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Saturday Star3 November 2018

Willem Snyman at a pollution hotspot in the Kaalfontein wetland in Ivory Park.
Willem Snyman at a pollution hotspot in the Kaalfontein wetland in Ivory Park.

THE effective micro-organisms (EM) used in the Hennops river, developed in Japan, are a “synergistic/symbiotic mixture of beneficial micro-organisms that occur naturally in healthy environments all over the planet” and its use has spread to over 120 countries, says Thomas Linders of the Rosendal Permaculture Research Institute.

“The introduced EM will attract other beneficial micro-organisms in the river systems to fulfil their function, which is to create an environment that is conducive to the various life forms contained in the riverine habitat.

“Continued support of the microbial life ... will result in an expression of nature as close as possible to the ‘original’ as is realistic in this day and age.”

Anthony Duigan, of Armour, says: “There are two ways of looking at the extraordinary work Willem is spearheading in the Kaalspruit wetlands and up river. One is that he is pissing into a hurricane and it will have no long-term effect and neither will the EM put into the wetlands.

“The other is he’s showing that a small group can perhaps become the catalyst for a whole community to realise they can change their own circumstances. And, at the very least, the EM might give people a vision of what the wetlands could be with the right treatment in the long term.

“The efforts of one man and a small group have managed to mobilise an amazing effort in an environment largely given up on by officials and locals alike.” | Sheree Bega THE ultimate goal for artist Willem Snyman is to reconnect people with the “miraculous” ever-flowing freshwater fountain-fed rivers in Gauteng.

He envisions a wildlife sanctuary in the lower half of the Hennops, which he describes as an “ancient river that nourished our first forefathers”, connecting reserves as a biodiversity corridor along the entire river.

All five rivers that originate on the Witwatersrand – the Crocodile, Jukskei, Hennops, Klip and Apies rivers – should be protected by their own sanctuaries to preserve water quality and restore their riparian zones.

The Hennops traces its origins to the strong fountains of the Witwatersrand and is fed by numerous springs as it meanders for 100km through the heart of Gauteng.

His river restoration project aims to restore original wetland, rehabilitate riparian ecosystems and uplift local communities.

Snyman spends his days hunting sewage leaks in townships like Ivory Park and Ebony Park. His project also aims to remove and recycle huge amounts of plastics and solid waste along riverbanks.

He wants to restore the banks of the Kaalspruit, and remove informal housing erected below flood lines to safe areas.

“I think one must take a stand and say no more trash and sewage in the Hennops. Otherwise the river will never get better.” | Sheree Bega

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