Ecological disaster threatens Hartbeespoort

Some of the dead fish at Meerhof Oewer.

Recent pollution of dam and the impacts thereof on the Wildlife in the area.

The region in our immediate area most affected is the Crocodile river entering the dam  which was home to large numbers of wading birds and returning migrant birds from up north.

These birds were reported in large numbers from Roos oord to the railway bridge. This area provided a unique habitat for many species of duck and  hosted the groups of flamingoes that have made the dam their home,  on a number of occasions.  The impact of this level of pollution will destroy the entire food chain in that area making the river virtually sterile for some time to come until sufficient rain falls in the upper catchment to flush the system and then it will still take some time to recover.

Of also concern is,  if the flow into the dam continues it will pollute the Meerhof Bird Sanctuary conservancy as well as the pristine wetlands of Melodie which until recently was home to a number of rare and endangered species until the entire wetland was destroyed by fire about a week ago and possibly the work of vandals with no thought for the environment.

This pollution would impact on a larger variety of birds that often use this part of the dam as a quite refuge from the busier Western areas. During our twice yearly bird counts (CWAC) on the dam this Western area often yields the highest count of birds.

The Meerhof Bird sanctuary is also the breeding grounds for many forms of wildlife including one of the key breeding areas for Fish eagles, Black Sparrowhawk, Cuckoo hawk, refuge for otters, water monitor lizards etc.

One also has to consider the impact on the fish of all sizes who will often die in their thousands in the presence of this level of pollution impacting on  the many species of birds and other animal life that rely on the fish as their staple diet.

It is hoped that the flow can be stopped and the polluted water gets diluted as it passes the train bridge and enters the greater part of the dam limiting the potentially disastrous consequences  on the wildlife.

Kormorant reported earlier:

A massive sewage spill at the Northern Water Works outside Johannesburg late last week is the cause of hundreds of fish dying in the Hartbeespoort Dam.

The spill took place at the Jukskei River, which eventually flows into the Crocodile River and then into the Hartbeespoort Dam.

Kormorant received calls over the weekend about the water of the effected rivers turning black, with a tremendous stench. Notice boards were also erected at the railroad bridge at Meerhof, warning of a biological hazard in the dam. It is unclear who erected these signs.

Low water bridge over the Jukskei bridge at Vlakfontein.

Low water bridge over the Jukskei bridge at Vlakfontein.

The inflow of the heavily polluted Crocodile river is in a direct line past the inlet of the water purification works in Schoemansville.

Kormorant is awaiting statements from the Director General of the Department of Water and Sanitation, Sifiso Mkhize, the DA’s shadow minister of Water and Sanitation, Leon Basson and the management of the Northern Water works. We will publish new information as we receive the relevant reaction.

Deon van Huizen

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