– one of Johannesburg’s many overlooked water sources.
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Judith writes: There exists a tiresome myth that the city of Johannesburg was not built on a river. No human being would build away from water, which is a first requirement for life.
The truth is that Johannesburg was built on many rivers and not one single one. Of these, the Sandspruit is but one. It flows north as do the Jukskei, the Braamfontein Spruit and many other lesser streams, all of which end up in the Crocodile River. On the south side of the ridge of White Waters is the Klip river and many others such as the Wonderfonteinspruit.
What all our rivers have in common today is pollution and neglect. Everything is put into them, from plastic bottles and bags to sewerage. Their fragile banks are lined with invasive plants and developers, who do not understand flood lines and the need for respecting water runoff from heavy rain storms. Their ignorance results in deaths –human and animal– as flash floods sweep all before them. More urgently, but so far unseen, is the penalty that we are paying for this concretization of our environment and destruction of grasslands. We are bringing on the great thirst as water can no longer reach the water table under the earth by simply sinking away into it as before.
We have lost the understanding of our relationship with nature and believe that we can dominate it. We are not nature’s masters and never will be: We were intended to be its shepherds and guardians –look at anyone’s religious text and you will find that that was what was intended.
The fact that these texts were written when humanity was closer to nature than we are today demonstrates the fact.
As urbanites, many of us believe that everything comes from the supermarket, that the supply of food is handled – by whom, I am not sure. However, it is inexhaustible and we can always rely on it. Ask a few friends in the rural areas for their take on this!
Now to return to the Sandspruit, whose banks are not always accessible, even though they are supposed to be and whose special residents do care about the life in and around the river.
It is the northern residents from Kelvin Drive to South Road and a little beyond who do care. There are lapses, and King David School could do a whole lot more and use the river as an education in biology, botany and chemistry. In fact, all the local schools should be using the river in their education programmes. Contact me for ideas!
Beyond that, we have some of the most beautiful walking spaces on our rivers – why are we not preparing them for the visitors for the Confederation Cup and 2010? Or even our visitors now? Many people enjoy walks in riverine areas and many visitors love hiking. We are missing a funding opportunity by neglecting our river trails and one which can come directly from tourists.
To illustrate this, here are some photos taken on our various walks on the Sandspruit:
Just something to suggest you come on our walks on Sundays to see the river and everything around it.
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