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
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.
The Palmiet River ran bright red after it was recently polluted with an unknown substance.
Mariclair Smit | 25 March 2014 08:00
MEMBERS of Palmiet River Watch were shocked after it was recently reported that the river had once again been subjected to some form of pollution.
Leon Grobbelaar, a member of the watch reported, on WhatsApp, a mobile messaging application used by the watch to monitor the river, a bright red discolouration near Cherry Road, Pinetown.
Lee D’Eathe, the founder of the watch, said “There has been a remarkable improvement in the water quality of the Palmiet River. The river has been running clear and we have received fewer reports of pollution. At times we have even received reports of fish beginning to return to the waters,” said D’Eathe.
The Palmiet River Watch helps department of water and sanitation to track down polluters in the area.
Mariclair Smit | 14 November 2013
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.
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.
An unknown substance was dumped into the Palmiet river in the early hours of Friday morning.
13 March 2013 | Lloyd Mackenzie
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.
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.