ARMOUR      Action for Responsible Management of our Rivers

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Plea to save the Hennops

Dept of Water & Sanitation May 16 2018 

A response from the Department of Water and Sanitation to Willem Snyman's queries and "Plea to save the Hennops" (15 May) has been received:

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The sad case of the Hennops, once the cleanest river in Gauteng

Willem Snyman, River Ranger, reports: May 15 2018 

 Another foaming, raw-sewage filled day for the Hennops River, and I am trying to fathom the catastrophe: the sad case of the Hennops, once the cleanest river in Gauteng, deteriorating into the most polluted. Ancient ecosystems collapsing in less than a decade, billions of freshwater creatures now gone, their habitat turned into a highly polluted wasteland.

To try and understand how this tragedy was possible I went on a tour of Sunderland Ridge Waste Water Treatment Works, currently operating at around 60% efficiency. The treatment process is a relatively simple one of settling and agitation that is repeated in the same modules, using much electricity to turn large machines. It appears regular cable theft is the Achilles Heel bringing this system to its knees. Cable theft now even takes place in broad daylight, with thieves breaking through a wall. Security is still under the control of the Metro Police. Additional security should be provided by the Works but this costs money.

The funding could be provided from an unexpected source. Joburg Water sends some sewage to be treated here, but it seems because of clerical problems JW's payment never reaches the Plant where it is needed. The last I could ascertain was that Joburg Water is waiting for invoices from Tshwane Municipality before they can pay, but nobody at Sunderland knows where to read the flow volume to do this. There appears to be payment due, going back a decade, which could help the Plant to function properly and protect itself against constant cable theft. Joburg Water should take some of the responsibility, as some of its waste ends up in the Hennops. And Tshwane should allocate these funds to where it is desperately needed..

Once the water is free of pollution the long road to rehabilitation can start to restore one of the greatest assets of Tshwane and Gauteng. The headwater sources are still pure and this ancient fountain-river and life-source that nourished our first ancestors must be brought back to life again - to help heal our toxic world and give life to us once again.

Standfontein desalination plant starts delivering water into supply system in Cape Town

Infrastructure and Utilities News, May 22, 2018

The City of Cape Town announced on Monday, 21 May, that the temporary desalination plant in Strandfontein is now delivering treated desalinated water into the supply system.

According to executive deputy mayor Ian Neilson, the plant is currently injecting 4.7-million litres per day into the reticulation system. It is expected that the plant will reach full production of 7-million litres during June 2018.

"Our reverse osmosis desalination plant in the Waterfront area is close to producing 2-million litres of drinking water per day while progress on the desalination plant at Monwabisi is also progressing well, with first water expected to be delivered by June and full production to be reached by July, if all goes according to plan. This plant is also set to produce 7-million litres per day," said Neilson.

He went on to emphasise that these projects provide only a small contribution of the city's daily requirements, and that consumers should continue to reduce water usage. "We have done well so far, and we must keep up our savings efforts during winter and in preparation for Summer 2018/19. We must continue to stretch our existing water supplies as we simply do not know what the actual winter rainfall will be."

Mogale's Silent Assassin  

Jan Brandt, February 8, 2018

Borehole water test results confirm sewage leaks contaminate underground water around Pinehaven in Mogale.  Resident Jan Brandt is fighting against official apathy as the disaster spreads.                                                                                                  

“Following concerns raised by Mogale residents as to the quality of the water from their boreholes in the area close to the Pinehaven raw sewage pump stations where numerous spillages occurred, the DA claimed that this type of contamination is impossible. The DA went further and said that they will be testing water and take action if more residents come forward with complaints.  - November 16, 2017. Despite the area being within Ward 39, a long time DA ward, the DA took no further action. 

Three samples showing contaminated water were taken close to the Pinehaven pump station and close to the wetlands downstream from Pinehaven and the Steynsvlei dam.

The E coli and coliform levels in these samples were dangerously far outside the National Water specification limits, in fact the most probable number of coliforms for one sample is of the same order as those of the surface waters. If there were underground sources of contamination in the area, then SPL 1 and SPL 3 would have indicated it.

Secondly, it is unlikely that boreholes will be contaminated by one isolated spillage from the pump stations, except if the spilled raw sewage is allowed to flow into the boreholes. Seeing that as long ago as 2005 judgment was given against Mogale City Local Municipality (Case 2005/2412 -WLD) and a number of references on record where Mogale City reflected on the serious problems in the Muldersdrift area resulting from the lack of infrastructure, nobody in his right mind would buy the explanations offered by the DA.

As to the seven sample results on the surface water, without exception, these results speak for themselves. As we are dealing with an invisible entity, residents do not necessarily connect their ailments to water contamination, especially as they are conditioned to thinking around treated drinking water from sources such as Rand Water. What is not taken into account, is the contact with contaminated surface water, be it from drinking (also by animals), swimming, washing, laundering or irrigating crops with it.

 For the DA and indeed Mogale City Local Municipality, in the north-west quadrant of the Witwatersrand, specifically the bigger Pinehaven node inclusive of Steynsvlei, Northvale and Heuningklip, kicking the can down the road, did not work and we have now run out of road.

Neither known nor appreciated, malfeasance, dysfunctionality, incompetence or some combination thereof, created the presence of a silent assassin. This invisible, but potentially deadly entity, in the form of life-threatening bacteria and pathogens, could well have and be generating huge costs for the community through infections, hospital and medical bills, immediate and long-term health problems and the diminution of property values.

In this process, the values enshrined in the South African Constitution have been ignored and nullified, including the right of community engagement and the right to a remedy. It is so sad that despite numerous studies and reports which adequately identified potential issues in the region and professionally recommended action, the problem was allowed to escalate to the life-threatening consequences now being faced.” 

A Re Sebetseng - Mayor's Clean Up Campaign

Feedback Report, John du Plessis, Created: November 04, 2017 

ARMOUR commends and supports the campaign by Johannesburg Mayor to clean up the city !!

Litter is the blight of Gauteng's rivers. Litter deposited in the streets of the city accumulates during the dry season and then with the first rain and floods gets washed into the river systems. River clean up campaigns such as Spruitday have found computer and electronic equipment, clothing, mattresses, cables and cable casing from electricity and telecomms companies and of course millions of plastic bags.

A Re Sebetseng creates an opportunity to clean up rubbish before it enters the river systems. ARMOUR met Mayor Herman Mashaba at the latest clean-up and presented him with the ARMOUR brochure while updating him on our mission and objectives. The mayor expressed his support for the work being done by ARMOUR

We also strongly commend Kenya for banning plastic bags entirely.

The "Last Straw" campaign aims to eliminate the use of plastic straws.

Plastics take between 500 to 1,000 years to break down, also enter the human food chain through fish and other animals. Many bags drift into the ocean, strangling turtles, suffocating seabirds and filling the stomachs of dolphins and whales with waste until they die of starvation.

Mayor Receives ARMOUR brochure from John duP

A Day's catch from the river banks

Braamfonteinspruit after flood

Klein Jukskei after flood

Update on Jukskei (Alexandra) Rehabilitation project

John du Plessis,  Issued 25 September 2017

The City of Joburg (CoJ) has commenced with planned upgrades on the Upper Jukskei River, with the latest CoJ budget making R5 million available for this project, for the establishment of a greenbelt park in Alexandra. Area rehabilitation experts Plantwise were appointed to construct the park, which started with the stabilisation of the river banks, planting indigenous trees and installing playground equipment, as well as building a 5-a-side indoor football court, an outdoor (tennis?) court and a cycle path. The results are truly excellent! 

Plantwise Site Manager - Riaan

Bank stabilisation using gabions

Indoor 5 a side soccer 

Park and cycle path

Unfortunately, the Jukskei River itself and the river bank opposite the development is in a sorry state. The banks are eroded, illegal dumping threatens previous stabilisation and the river is littered and foul with sewerage.

Eroded and unstable banks

Illegal dumping into the river

Sewerage and litter fouls the river

Mr Pule Makena of City Parks hopes that the residents will use and take ownership of the new park facilities and that in turn, this will encourage a sense of pride that leads to a clean-up of this section of the Jukskei.

Further upgrades are planned for other sites on the Jukskei River, but are constrained by the available budgets. This is an opportunity for private companies and individuals to come together and assist in  addressing the problems. 

Come on Joburg let's work together to fix the Jukskei and make it a living resource !

50 000 litres of sewage flow into SA's rivers every second

M&G article:  Sipho Kings  21 Jul 2017  

South Africa’s municipal sewage system has largely collapsed. Of the 824 treatment plants, maybe only 60 release clean water.

Raw or partially treated sewage flows into rivers throughout the country, turning dams green and killing people who drink the polluted water. From big metros such as Johannesburg to towns like Villiers in the Free State, what is flushed down the toilet either escapes out of broken pipes or from the plants meant to treat it back to safe quality.

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Mogale City: Erge Besoedelings- en Gesondheidsprobleme

Created: 28 July 2017 

Photo supplied by TripAdvisor

The Crocodile River tumbles down a beautiful waterfall into the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, visited and enjoyed by thousands of people every year. Several sewage leaks into the upper reaches of the river have been reported.  As the river ignores municipal boundaries and runs through both Joburg and Mogale municipalities, it complicated matters as to who is responsible for maintenance.  ARMOUR contacted the Sewer Network Manager of  Joburg Water, who provided a contact in Mogale's Wastewater Network department, as well as tasking his own officials with fixing the Joburg leaks. 

With the involvement of the Roodepoort Neighbourhood Watch and local Councillors several leaks have been fixed on both the Mogale and the Joburg side.  A check will be done on the more inaccessible areas of the kloof above the waterfall and Joburg Water has promised to follow up.

Further,  raw sewage has been flowing for months around Pinehaven, the Pinehaven Hospital and not far from Cradlestone Mall and the Silverstar Casino,into the Crocodile/ Limpopo water catchment area through Steynsvlei on its way to Hartebeespoort dam. ARMOUR is currently investigating.

Download report.

 Environmental Authorisation: Jukskei (Alexandra) Rehabilitation project

Maragela Consulting Engineers,  Issued 30 March 2017

GDARD has granted COJ environmental authorisation for the Jukskei River Rehabilitation Project. In summary the remediation measures proposed at 14 sites across the Jukskei from Atholl to Waterval  on the Modderspruit and Jukskei include :

  • General clean up, litter removal and waste baskets
  • Removal of illegal dumping
  • Alien vegetation removal and replanting indigenous
  • Dredging of silted areas
  • Erosion prevention and Slope stabilisation
  • Removal of unrequired weirs and fishways where these are retained
  • Litter traps at selected places
  • Wetlands at selected places

The Masterplan for the Jukskei, although not fully incorporated in the work at hand, provides a long term objectives and vision.

See COJ Presentation