HARTIES CRISIS: Residents commit to rehabilitation

The crisis at Hartbeespoort Dam is receiving welcome support by members of the community who are committed to clearing the water hyacinth infestation, without the use of poisons.

On 10 October community members and the media were invited to the dam to see the clearing programme in action.
The Hartbeespoort Dam Rehabilitation Steering Committee (http://www.hrsc.org.za/about.htm) has, during this phase of the removals, received little to no support from the Department of Water Affairs, which has given the committee until December this year to make an impact. Thereafter, the department will consider poisoning the invasive plant.
Poisoning is not ideal as other plants and animals within the ecosystem would also suffer and the dam would take several years to recover fully. It would also cause the dam water, which is currently clear, to turn green, as algae would feed on the rotting dead plants. The Department of Water Affairs has contributed two boats, which were repaired and made water-ready by the rehabilitation committee.
The committee has already raised in excess of R500 000, which has been used directly for removing the plants.
A plan to use the dried water hyacinths as compost and fire briquettes will also raise additional income for the project, once those become available.

At this stage, the rehabilitation committee is in the process of zoning the dam, and trapping the hyacinths into clearable areas. Nets will be used to trap the hyacinths and then specialised removal equipment will clear the areas systematically.
The committee is appealing to the community to collect 2L cold drink bottles to help keep the nets both buoyant and visible to other dam users.
A specialised barge has been brought in from China by Global Pump (http://www.globalpump.com/) to assist with the removal. This barge removes the hyacinth using a conveyer-belt system, compresses it and then dumps it on the shore for further removal. It is estimated that about 2ha of hyacinth can be removed per day with the current machinery.
The steering committee is appealing to residents around the province to get involved in saving the dam. The team only has sufficient funds to clear about 10 per cent of the infestation, and it is predicted that at the current rate of growth, the dam will be 90 per cent covered by December this year!
“We are heavily reliant on donations from the public in order to save our dam. We would like to spread our reach throughout Gauteng as many people enjoy the dam over weekends for recreational purposes,” said Rudy Joles from the Hartbeespoort Dam Rehabilitation Steering Committee.
Caxton Local Media has offered various offices in the Gauteng area as collection points for these bottles. Please find a list of drop-off points listed below. Please note that the bottles MUST have their lids on them and the labels removed. The time to act is now – before it’s too late!

Should you wish to donate bottles, please drop them off at one of the following Caxton Local Media offices:

1187 Cornelius Street, Weltevreden Park
368 Jan Smuts Avenue, Craighall Park
61 Van der Walt Road, Brakpan
48 5th Avenue, Springs
20 Sydney Road, Boksburg
Corner 14th Avenue and O’Reilly Merry Street, Benoni
1 Eaton Terrace, Terrace Building, Alberton
126 Monument Road, Kempton Park
25 Main Road, Fishers Hill, Germiston

Shop 18A Greenstone Crescent, Greenstone Hill
32 Orpen Avenue, Lydiana
Corner General Pienaar and Ham streets, Witpoortjie
The public can also get involved by making monetary donations towards the rehabilitation project.
For more information on where you can get involved, and for banking details, visit www.northcliffmelvilletimes.co.za


Aimee McGill

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