We undertook a study of this
highly polluted river flowing through the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.
A newspaper article in The Argus highlighted the unacceptable levels of
e-coli bacteria in this water system. The water hyacinth growth is thriving in this river
as a direct result of the high
level of sewerage water found in the river. The sewerage is leaking into the river from the
Athlone sewerage plant.
The mosquitos are also breeding in this area
resulting in infestation even in winter in the homes around this river.
The problem is at its worst in summer.
In winter the river needs to be
kept clear of water hyacinth because of the danger of flooding the
surrounding areas when it rains. If the river is full of water hyacinth
it cannot let the water flow away quickly.
Reeds on the river bank also cause problems as the water hyacinth packs
up against them.
The methods used to clear this river are manual and mechanical. People
have been employed to clear the river, but this is dangerous
to their health because of the high e-coli count.
Recently, Miles Giljam of
Milestone Environment undertook a study in this river and the two
methods used in clearing water hyacinth in the Black river. It was found
that people could easily wade in and clear the water hyacinth using
grappling rods. They brought it to the edge and then piled it into heaps
to dry out before it was removed.
Miles did a thesis "The
Distribution and Potential Resource use for Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia
crassipes) in the Greater Cape Town Area." (Giljam, 1999)
He is in favour of using the
water hyacinth that is removed as a resource to create compost, paper
and other products. We have found the stems to be very strong and agree
that it is a very good material for weaving.
At the end of our study we feel
it necessary to educate the people that are affected by the water
hyacinth as to its possible value to them.
We do not believe that the
problem will ever go away, but we do believe that manual clearing and ways of using
this product in each area needs to be investigated.
We also believe that it is
unacceptable to allow any sewage to flow into this river system. This
river should be cleaned and the area should be reclaimed as a
recreational area that all Capetonians can use.
The problems of the raw sewage
run off from the Jo Slovo informal settlements needs to be addressed as
it has huge health implications for us all.