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Many people consider rivers in urban areas to be dirty, dangerous, polluted and a hangout for undesirable elements. Unfortunately, they aren’t always wrong. Particularly in Frankfort, the banks of the Wilge River are seen as a convenient dumping grounds for waste. Offenders seem to have an inherent belief that rain will flush away the waste – problem solved! Of course it is not, shifting the problem downstream or dilution is not the solution. It doesn’t have to be this way. Our rivers should be viewed as assets – places for nature, clean water, tourism and recreation, that can enhance our communities.

River restoration can improve water quality

Our rivers, unfortunately, still receive a lot of our waste. While we now treat sewage (supposed to!) before it enters rivers, there is plenty of other pollution that burdens urban streams in our region. Every time it rains, the oil, trash, pesticides, and other waste that coats our streets and yards wash into rivers. Dog waste alone is a major contributor of E. coli and other pollution in urban rivers. All of these problems make most of our rivers unsafe to swim in. Responsible communities worldwide are working to reduce these sources of pollution, with the goal of making rivers fishable and swimmable. Restoring the river ecosystem can also improve water quality. Rivers and their floodplains act as filters – cleaning water before it reaches the stream – making the river a healthier home for fish and other wildlife. Restoring these natural river functions by creating floodplains, planting (indigenous) trees along the banks, and allowing the river to naturally move and shift, can be a valuable tool for addressing urban water quality issues. The dense native riparian vegetation around healthy rivers also attracts animals and birds. Communities and even livestock, especially in rural communities, stand a better chance of an improved quality of life when our rivers are clean and healthy. The fish that live in healthy rivers can be used as an excellent food source.

Not often mentioned, is that the improvement of water quality of our water sources has a financial benefit for municipalities too, by reducing the need for expensive chemicals to render water safe to drink.

Visit our offices at 18A Church Street, Frankfort on Mondays to Thursdays from 08h30 to 16h00 and Fridays 08h30 to 12h00. Call or send a WhatsApp message to Marina on 079 145 4295. Visit our website and follow us on Facebook.

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