NEWS / 19 OCTOBER 2019, 4:30PM / LIAM NGOBENI
Pretoria - Rehabilitating the Hennops river and Centurion Lake won’t be an immediate quick fix and it will take several years to restore them to their original state.
This is according to metro spokesperson Lindela Mashigo, who said there were plans to rehabilitate the river, but it would take several years to reverse the damage caused by upstream pollution.
Mashigo said R28.6 million had been earmarked for the first phase of the rehabilitation of the stretch of the Hennops River between the Gerhard Street bridge and Lenchen North Road bridge.
Centurion Lake also forms part of a broader process to rehabilitate the Hennops River and it would not be resuscitated as a waterfront again.
“The aim of the rehabilitation process is not to restore the waterfront but rather to restore the river to its natural flow as far as humanly possible.
“Work will start in this financial year with funds earmarked for the rehabilitation process.
“However, to ensure that the allocated budget is well spent, we are first appointing consultants who will review existing proposals and designs and advise the City on the most economical, efficient and environmentally sensitive way of going about this sensitive process.”
He said once this was completed and presented to all interested and affected parties, the next step would be to tend to the physical aspects.
“We will be guided by the consulting team’s expertise as to the order of activities as the full suite of interventions will need to be funded and implemented over several years,” Mashigo added.
The metro has also established a Task Team that consists of representatives from the different departments based on their skills and expertise according to Mashigo.
“The specification to source specific expertise to design the rehabilitation solution is under way.”
He said physical activity would be seen in the third or fourth quarter of the financial year.
Rehabilitation forms part of the city’s operational and maintenance budget.
On the community front, people like Katherine Fillmore are getting their hands dirty and doing monthly clean-ups at sections of the river.
Fillmore has been involved in the clean-up of the river since 2013, working with other organisations all chasing a common goal - to rid the river of pollution.
A director for the Hennops River Forum, Fillmore said thousands of bags of rubbish have been extracted from the river but the total has not been calculated.
“The river is severely polluted in Centurion and up in Tembisa, waste-water treatment plants need to be upgraded with immediate effect.
“Strong partnerships and relationships need to be established between civil society, corporates and government.”
She said the people on the street needed to take responsibility for their waste and the environmental footprint they left.
This started with education.
“I have put together an education campaign called Ubuntu Flow taking waste and river pollution education to schools. I require funding to implement further reach.”
She said inventions such as waterless toilets should be embraced and industries must take responsibility and not pollute rivers.
“Stricter fines and watchdogs need to be put in place. Citizens must report leaks, illegal dumping and bursting manholes to officials. We need active citizen engagement.
“There is a lot of illegal dumping into the rivers.
“People need to be educated and realise that this impacts the environment negatively which has a direct influence on them.”
She said they had begun a campaign in Tembisa which keeps expanding to different areas of the river.
“Our aim is to create a chain of clean-ups along the river where civil society takes responsibility for their areas and conducts regular campaigns working together with municipality and businesses,” said Fillmore.