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Life slowly returns to Harley Street stream -15 May 2014

The health of a small stream in Harley Street in Pinetown has improved, thanks to the efforts of the Palmiet River Watch.

Mariclair Smit | 15 May 2014

Lee D’ Eathe with Prince Dlamini (Durban Solid Waste), Sarika Devraj and Candice Naidoo (department of water and sanitation – pollution and environment) next to the small stream on Harley Street.
THE health of the notoriously polluted Harley Street stream in Pinetown was recently reassessed, and it was discovered that the stream showed signs of recovery.
The steam on Harley street, which flows into the Palmiet River, was regularly being polluted with detergents, food waste, paint and petroleum waste, which caused discolouration, foul smells and foam.
Residents observed these forms of pollution for years. There were reports of foam standing a meter tall at times, which blew into residents’ yards. Detergents were being discharged into the storm water system regularly on Fridays and Sundays. According to Lee D’Eathe, founder of the Palmiet River Watch, the reports and photographs submitted by the River Watch community have helped the department of water and sanitation to determine what the pollutants are and where they originated, and has enabled the authorities to narrow down their search for the polluters.
“An enthusiastic and dedicated municipal team undertook door to door inspections which resulted in a number of warnings, and some prosecutions for water pollution. Individuals and businesses that pollute the storm water system, streams and rivers have no excuse for not knowing that this is illegal and has serious consequences for the environment, and future generations,” said D’Eathe.
Offenders could face a fine or imprisonment. Fines and imprisonment increase progressively for repeated offenders with maximum fines of R 100 000, R 200 000 and five years or 10 years imprisonment for the first and second time offenders, respectively.
When the simplified SA Stream Assessment (miniSASS) was undertaken in November last year the river looked and smelled terrible and was almost devoid of any form of life. Only one minuscule worm, a tiny crab and one snail was found, reported D’Eathe.
The last test revealed that there is currently an abundance of insects and other organisms in the stream. It will take time for the chemical pollutants to leach out of the subterranean soils, reported D’Eathe.
Errol Hancke, a local resident, confirmed that the stream’s ‘condition’ has improved. “The odours, discolouration and foam has slowly been disappearing over the past few months. We have witnessed a 100 per cent turn around,” said Hancke. Contact Lee D’Eathe on 083 461 5964.