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R42m plan to transform Bruma

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23 Dec 2010

Bruma Lake has not only been an eyesore for many years but is now a serious health hazard as well because e-coli counts are 2,419-million per 100 ml of water compared with an acceptable level of just 1 000 parts.

The Johannesburg metropolitan council estimates that it will cost R41,2-million to rehabilitate Bruma Lake where bottles, plastic wrappers, used condoms, raw sewage and rotting animal carcasses create an unbearable stench for workers in the vicinity.

The rehabilitation plan proposes to reshape the lake into a grassed flowing channel so that the water can follow a more natural route, increasing movement and aeration of the water.

By transforming the lake into a flowing stream, an aquatic ecosystem could be created and would provide some natural filtration, lower the sediment build up and allow the water to clean itself as it flows.

The council has apparently secured R7-million from the Extended Public Works Programme to undertake an initial clean-up of the lake that includes removing litter and to doing the preparatory work for desludging, installing aerators and litter grids.

Another R4,2-million has been set aside for a precipitation plant, reshaping the lake, modifying lake channels and building grassed areas.

The council wants to implement the plan rapidly to prevent the health hazards from polluted water in the dam from spreading into other rivers and streams around the city.

The toxic water flows into the Jukskei River, then to Hartbeespoort Dam until it reaches the Crocodile River. Preliminary test results indicate that apart from e-coli, there are traces of salmonella and shigella bacteria in the water.

Readers' Comments Have a comment about this article? Email us now.  

This is an environmental disaster. The health of people in Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga is already compromised. Men at Hartebeespoort are already rendered sterile from pollution. We have killed the fauna and fish in the rivers, compromised the crops being irrigated and the land around. It is a microcosm of what can happen throughout SA in the next few months. - Judith

While it’s great that something is being done about this, the question is how the e-coli count got to be so high in this lake.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the feeding river (i.e. the Jukskei) originate as the Braamfonteinspruit? Between Braamfontein and Bruma there aren’t many (if any?) informal settlements. Does this mean that the river is used as a toilet in between in areas where sewerage infrastructure is in place? Another point: If the lake is cleaned up, what about the river’s next destination, i.e. Alexandra?  Would there be any significant quality benefit i.t.o. e-coli count of water entering the Hartebeespoortdam after it has passed through Alexandra where there are many informal settlements on the river banks which do not have toilets? In short – aren’t we simply trying to put a plaster on a much bigger wound? - Francois

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