HENNOPS RIVER CLEAN-UP, 13 & 14 JULY
edited by Helen Duigan of Armour
”This weekend was a triumph. Citizens have had enough of pollution and are reclaiming their rivers,” says Willem Snyman of FRESH.ngo. “A hundred volunteers picked up 140 bags of rubbish in just 50 metres on both sides of the river in the Hennops Vleiland, Hennops Park, Centurion.
“Plastics were stuck everywhere - layered on the banks, hanging in the trees like macabre washing and half buried in the sand - thickly built up over years of neglect, and all washing down when the river floods.
”Volunteers braved a foul-smelling river, stinking of sewerage with white foam blobs floating past like surreal ice-bergs. The river banks sides and the river bed are covered by a thick layer of putrid black sludge, deposited in only a few months after the last rains. Truly the Hennops is now one of our worst polluted rivers. Yet, a decade ago it was still teeming with life as Gauteng's cleanest river."
“WE REMEMBER SWIMMING HERE…”
”Residents were reminiscing about how they used to swim here, and of the incredible natural life a few years back with thousands of fish and crabs, even otters and small animals. Nothing is left now - billions of creatures destroyed along the river - turned into a lifeless wasteland.
“This is a silent scream from nature - hardly heard by those responsible, their waste flushed out of sight and mind. Upstream polluters must be held accountable and help with the restoration."
THE ULTIMATE IRONY!
“The main culprit is still the long malfunctioning Olifantsfontein Wastewater Treatment Works, run by ERWAT. The ultimate irony - their expertise is now supposed to save the Vaal River! Blocked and overflowing sewerage mains on both the Ekurhuleni and the Johannesburgsides of Tembisa contribute greatly to pollution at source. This is the origin of the vast amount of plastics coming down, dumped in piles next to bridges and wetland streams, lying uncollected and eventually washed down when the river floods.
”The eerie thing is the tiny percentage of concentrated sewerage constantly ruining such an amazing volume of spring-water. One such a stream is the clear Bronberrick, flowing into the Hennops Park Vleiland. The kids and even DWS got excited about the results of the educational mini-SASS, led by Roots & Shoots, which found that the stream still harbours a variety of small life forms - before it merges with the Hennops."
TURNING A THREAT INTO A FESTIVE OCCASION
”The task sometimes feels insurmountable, but we're fighting back in small areas, driving clean wedges into the endless pollution, then enlarging and uniting them. What gives one hope are the incredible volunteers, especially the children – self- motivated and cheerfully tackling big areas of plastics, filling up large bags full of the horrible stuff.
”The upside was the festive atmosphere in the tented area with the numerous colourful gazebos of our green partners:
ClothesToGood with up-cycling initiatives and the Spekboom (our indigenous carbon miracle plant)
DWS had an informative hand washing station
The Styling Chair by Karla - Karla Jooste and Rita Groenewald set up an educational area. Karla helped facilitate the weekend, teaming up with Roots and Shoots
Rita Groenewald from Roots & Shoots mobilized the local schools before the event
Katherine Fillmore of Hennops Blue Horizon presented an early morning Yoga session, leaving everyone invigorated and ready for the day
Jean Crossing donated essential gloves for the clean-up and some of their shops once more provided welcome refreshments
Living Water provided water for thirsty folks
t.vrede provided lively music afterwards in the large tent, and the talented young Malakia Jooste charmed us with her singing
Impact Adventure - Africa bravely ferried people and rubbish bags across the dirty waters.
City of Tshwane Nature conservation did an amazing job beforehand, mowing the grass and cutting down weeds and aliens
We planted eight lovely mature Waterbessie trees on the banks to stabilize them, donated by Mia Marsay of Over The Garden Wall Landscape Design and Garden Maintenance. She has donated many large, beautiful trees which we planted at our various events this past year."
RECLAIMING THE PARK
”With all this activity happening, we reclaimed the park. Key residents from nearby came forward to help and with their associations we'll try and take the project further by establishing a Friends Group here to continue the work and take care of this beautiful natural space.
”Our heartfelt thanks to all who came through and participated - especially the brave volunteers and the kids. Our united voice is clear: we want our fountain-rivers back, their natural life restored! It is up to us all to turn the tide on pollution and overcome our society's wasteful consumerism – to expose it's ugly underbelly. And to save our shrinking bio-diversity, Our natural waterways have been turned into no-man's lands where much of our throw-away society's trash lies strewn and hidden, accumulating in frightening volumes further poisoning our waters."
NEXT - HOW TO TACKLE “POLY-ISLANDS”?
”Next week we'll be collectively tackling two 'Poly-Islands' further down-river. These are massive amounts of trash piling up and packed so tightly that one can literally walk over the river for 100 metres without getting your feet wet - truly shocking. On 19 July we'll try to facilitate a litter trap upstream to stop all of this waste coming down, and hopefully recycle most of it.
"Thank you to all who participated and contributed in so many ways!"
Willem Snyman, Fresh.ngo