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Ongoing pollution choking rivers and waterways

Rivers and waterways in the Tshwane metro, along with many other urban areas nationally, are continuously being degraded by pollution. The Apies River, once described by Winston Churchill as the “mighty Apies”, is more and more showing signs and stresses of being an urban waterway. In the western part of the metro, it has been declared a “disaster area” by civil society watchdog AfriForum following numerous spills from the nearby Roodewal sewage treatment plant, with locals finding dead fish as pollution takes its toll. In the CBD and Sunnyside flatland the river is more frequently used as a dump site for all manner of refuse, ranging from the usual plastic and polystyrene food containers and bags, cans and bottles of all sizes, through to discarded small electrical appliances.

The latest addition to this unwanted refuse flow comes from a burst sewage pipe near Prinshof School, on the northern side of the CBD. One of security specialist Andre Mundell’s clients is the school, which is almost continuously plagued by squatters who have taken up residence on the riverbanks. “Whenever they break in to the school it is copper pipes and brass fittings they steal and, while we have had some success in stopping theft, they are always around and seem to throw everything into the river,” he said. Metro management yesterday got going on a clean river systems initiative, starting with the much-polluted Hennops River, in the vicinity of the international cricket arena, SuperSport Stadium, in Centurion. Today will see municipal clean-up teams move onto the Apies River, but not in the CBD/Sunnyside area. The Apies one-day clean up is slated for Mountain View in the Wonderboompoort area. Tomorrow, it is the turn of Rietspruit, in Eersterus, on the eastern side of the city, to have at least part of it cleared of assorted refuse.

Mayoral committee member tasked with agriculture and the environment Nkele Malapane said the waterway clean up formed part of an awareness campaign about the importance of the city’s river systems. “In an effort to protect the metro’s urban aquatic environments and in the spirit of building a green legacy for future generations, there is a need to inform communities and showcase the importance of healthy river systems in overall human well-being,” she said. The river clean up also forms part of Tshwane’s pre-COP17 activities.

Source: ; Nov 16 2011

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