Westville Conservancy Newsletter – Dec 2013

Palmiet River Watch
Lee D’Eathe has been instrumental in setting up the Palmiet River Watch. Folk who live, work and play on the river, all the way from where the Palmiet River joins the Umgeni River at 0km, to its source in Manors at ±22.50 km, are working together with officials to locate and stop undesirable activates and water pollution.
UNAUTHORISED DUMPING INTO THE RIVER
A good working relationship is being developed with officials, with a commitment to respond to the issues as they arise; and they have already had some successes.
By communicating with one another, property owners along the Palmiet River determine the important details and roughly where the pollution has entered the river; and in this way, meaningful complaints are being submitted to the relevant authority to investigate, refer, follow-up and conclude with a report back.
Lee reports that there are now a total of 53 points that are covered with individuals with a vested interest in our river environment.
SMS’s, phone calls, emails and particularly WhatsApp are proving very effective tools for rapid communication. Contact Lee on 083 461 5964 or BusinessUnusualLee@gmail.com

Polluters beware! – 14 November 2013

The Palmiet River Watch helps department of water and sanitation to track down polluters in the area.

Mariclair Smit | 14 November 2013

Lee D’Eathe next to the tranquil Palmiet River.
ACTIVE members of the Palmiet River Watch have successfully helped officials to pinpoint sources of pollution and to reprimand the guilty parties.
According to Lee D’Eathe, who initiated the river watch, it has received a lot of meaningful response from the business and residential community, and the photographs sent on WhatsApp, the mobile messaging application, have helped the department of water and sanitation to determine what the pollutants are and to trace them from where they came from.
“The reports from the residents have enabled the officials to catch and warn some of the polluting companies, and they are narrowing down their search to the Pinetown North Industrial area which includes Suffert Street, MasonStreet Old Main Road, Oppenheimer Street, Schenk Road, Olivier Road,nd Blair Road,” said D’Eathe.
The latest pollution to be reported by the active members is a small stream in Harley Road, which eventually washes into the Palmiet river.
According to residents in the area the stream has suffered major pollution for the last 16 years and on Sunday yet another pollutant drained into the small stream creating major foam.

Palmiet River on the brink – 16 Oct 2013

The Palmiet river is in a very poor state, according to the Palmiet River Watch
ADULTS and children alike were fascinated by the range of insects and animals they found in the Palmiet River water on Saturday. Nine different species were found in the river when the Palmiet River Watch conducted river health assessments at the weekend.
This followed a presentation where the enthusiastic participants were taught by environmental consulting company GroundTruth how to undertake river health assessments by identifying 13 groups of river life which constitute the miniSASS (Stream Assessment Scoring System).
Under the watchful eye of Anelile Gibixego and Mahomed Desai from GroundTruth, the river health was calculated, and a sample of water was taken for later laboratory analysis.
Lee D’Eathe who initiated the Palmiet River Watch said the life forms gathered from the river and later released were used in a simple formula which showed that the condition of river health is extremely poor.
“Gibixego pointed to the algae growth which covered the sand and rocks confirmed that the Palmiet river is in a very poor state. This was just one of many assessments that will be taken over time in an on-going community exercise to monitor the health of the Palmiet River and make everyone aware of the plight of our environment,” he said.
Municipal officials registered their support and confirmed that the river watch community reporting was contributing positively to their work success. Sheila Schulte recalled the signs at the Cascades that had warned bathers not to swim because of the danger of bilharzia, and Chris Fennemore, who has had bilharzia, advised people to be cautious as the water could, at times, have very high levels of pathogens and parasites.
“In the last few weeks there have been reports of repeated pollution including raw sewage, silt deposits, detergents and chemical waste which had changed the colour, clarity and smell of the river and caused bubbles and foam.
The very existence of an active Palmiet river watch community is a deterrent in itself, as polluters will now be held accountable,” said D’Eathe.
Anyone interested in committing to improving the river environment can contact Lee D’Eathe on 083 461 5964 or BusinessUnusualLee@gmail.com.

Back-up generator pumps life back into river – 31 July 2013

New Back-up generators will prevent raw sewerage and industrial waste from being discharged into the Palmiet River during power outages.

31 July 2013 | Mariclair Smit

RESIDENTS living along the Palmiet River can now experience better quality water down stream, thanks to the back-up generator commissioned by the eThekwini Waste Water network operations.
According to Mike Hebbelmann, area engineer for Waste Water Network:Operations branch, the first step which was one of three back up power generators, was commissioned at the Blair Road sewer pump station in Pinetown last Tuesday.
“This means whenever there is a power outage in the future, raw sewerage and industrial waste water from Pinetown and New Germany industrial areas will no longer discharge into the Palmiet River,” said Hebbelmann.
He said two more generators at Birdhurst pump station and Methven pump station will be rolled out over the next six weeks.
Hebbelmann said there are also plans to place back up generators in Hillcrest – at the Heritage Market, Stonewall Road and Hillcrest Shopping Centre in the next couple of months.
While all can be thankful about the new back up generator, residents have been warned that this generator will only kick in if there is an interruption to the power supply, and will not work if the internal cables are stolen.
Lee D’Eathe, a resident living along the river, said people who have reported that the river no longer has bird life, fish and crabs, can be assured that this will recover quite well now, with the good quality of water flowing down stream.

UPDATE: City investigates source of pollution – 13 March 2013

 

Westville resident, Calya Morgan, is highly concerned with the pollution tat was flowing doen the Palmiet River last Friday. (Photo: Tim Brauteseth)
An unknown substance was dumped into the Palmiet river in the early hours of Friday morning.

13 March 2013 | Lloyd Mackenzie

UPDATE: 13/03/2013
The department of pollution and environment respond to the Palmiet’s pollution problem.
Senior manager for the pollution and environment department, Christopher Fennemore, said they were notified of the pollution at 6.45am on Friday morning and three staff members were on the scene at 7.30am.
“The source of the problem had stopped by the time our staff were notified and the residual effects were washing downstream. Therefore some detective work is now required because the source could not be located immediately. Samples were taken in an attempt to characterise the problem,” said Fennemore.
According to Fennemore the waste dumped was a surface active agent which is a component of detergent.  He believes it would not take much detergent to do this to a river. The results will be released in a week and a survey will be undertaken to observe if there was any damage done to the wildlife.
“We do not know whether this was blatant or negligent dumping. In either case we take a very tough stance on such dumping and if a culprit is found regulatory action will be taken,” said Fennemore.
11/03/2013
The usually clear and pristine Palmiet river was awash with volumous clouds of white bubbles on Friday morning, after it was badly polluted.

The Highway Mail was inundated with calls from concerned residents in the Westville area who were angry about the pollution. “If you look at the history of the river there used to be large amounts of wildlife that could be found in and around it, now they are no longer around, or greatly diminished. Rivers are the arteries of our world and we need to respect our Earth. When will people wake up?” questioned Jean Senogles, avid conservationist.

According to Senogles, on Friday afternoon the river started to cope with the pollution that had been dumped in it earlier that morning.

The name of the substance that was dumped in the river is not yet known or the effect the pollution will have on the plant and animal life around the river.

Questions were forwarded to the municipality but no comment has been received. Updates to follow.