Letter: Water, pollution big metro issues

New municipal administration

Last Thursday’s Spring Day The Herald front page, which outlined the DA-led coalition’s priorities for the first 100 days in office (“Trollip spells out priorities for first 100 days in office”), brings renewed hope for our long-suffering residents in this metro. Sharing the council’s priorities and plans regularly with the residents will go a long way towards restoring confidence and may also influence attitudes as regards paying for services.

There were times we all wished we could withhold payment because we knew that our hard-earned money was being wasted.

One of the big issues is water or rather the lack of it. I agree with all the plans, including the upgrade to the Nooitgedacht water treatment works, attending to water leaks and imposing restrictions on consumers.

However, water is a scarce resource, and with global warming and huge population growth we will at some point reach crisis point. Hence my urgent plea to the municipality, businesses and residents to harvest rainwater – all roofs should have a tank(s).

Also, everyone should be encouraged to use grey water to flush toilets and water their gardens. Gone are the days when water resources were used with scant regard for the future.

Another big issue is pollution. Here I am not only talking about ageing sewerage infrastructure, which keeps on breaking down and needs repairing, coupled with the urgent need for additional capacity via a waste treatment works towards Coega.

I also am concerned about plastic pollution. I know the municipality has stated that it is/will be collecting refuse weekly, but just travel around the metro and you will see litter – mainly plastic – wherever you go.

There are heaps of uncollected refuse, for example, along the old Grahamstown road towards Markman, into Motherwell and Wells Estate – it is appalling. I see very little evidence of it being picked up.

I speak to residents and most of them shrug their shoulders – they seem to have become immune to the sight of rubbish lying around. What we need is a municipal campaign inviting the residents to participate by clearing their area (yard/street frontage) and keeping it clean.

I believe this will only work once refuse is collected throughout the metro every week of the year without interruption. There should not have to be strikes where work stops.

This should be resolved around a table while the work carries on. This will instill confidence in the residents to do something and maybe some sort of an incentive for those who do something.

The problem of people and animals breaking bags and scattering the contents is a major cause of littering. Supply wheelie bins for every house and supply big removable bins in all open areas within reasonable access for residents and erect more fenced or walled-off areas?

Another major problem is that people continue to throw plastic away when they are walking to or from vehicles. When challenged they say if they don’t do it, they will put their comrades out of work, referring to the municipal worker with a bin, broom and spade. People should know that if there is no one there any more to clean up after them, they have to do it themselves.

Once this happens you will find that residents will be policing each other.

I believe the street cleaner’s job should be changed to removal of branches, grass and weeds from the roads and sidewalks in his or her allotted area as well as keeping drains from blocking by removing gravel and stones from the streets.

The metro police, once it is up and running (figuratively and literally), could also be charged with handing out spot fines to people for littering.

This plastic pollution is bad enough when it stays on land. However, when it gets into our rivers and oceans the pollution effects are just being noticed.

They are horrific. You see reports almost every day of dead penguins, seals, dolphins, turtles, etc, a lot of them having ingested plastic which they thought was food.

The Zwartkops Conservancy and the municipality have for a number of years been cleaning up the plastic along the banks of the Swartkops especially concentrating on the Motherwell canal, which is the biggest source of plastic pollution in the river. In the last four months, as an example, about 6 000 bags have been collected in the area from the John Tallant robots, on both sides of the estuary, right up to Perseverance.

We need to get to the main source of the problem, which for the Swartkops estuary is the Motherwell canal at the top. There is a need for a planning session where all parties (public, NPOs and metro) meet to discuss the way forward.