Conservationist Romy Stader and artist Hannelie Coetzee aim to tackle the water pollution challenge in South Africa. They seek to eliminate the sewage-filled rivers, dead dogs, used needles, and broken TVs from the country’s waters. In the pursuit of this achievement, the two will use research and green infrastructure. Additionally, they aim to use art in a model they made to replicate the model’s changes to the rivers across Johannesburg.
Johannesburg Jukskeu river
In December 2020, Romy and Coetze launched an initiative called the charity of Water for the future. As a first task, the initiative started by tackling the pollution in Johannesburg’s Jukskeu river. Most people in Johannesburg could only see a polluted ribbon of water when they saw the river. But the initiative worked very closely with the locals near the river and restored one of the country’s largest rivers. The initiative helped remove all the alien invasive plants, amongst other things, from a river, and they succeeded.
The initiative’s slogan states that water is a reflection of society. The charity has claimed that most toxic waters have been polluted by agriculture, mining, or urbanization. Furthermore, they state the activities have reduced the quality of freshwater sources in South Africa. But the initiative has claimed that all rivers can be recovered and pollution can eventually go away. The two women say they aim to create a green corridor filled with safe water and eco-art that communicates with people. Some South African people have compared the women’s project to the High Line Park in New York City. The United States park is a 1.5-mile (2.3-Km) strip of greenery built on an old elevated railroad. Moreover, the railroad runs along Manhattan’s Westside and now looks very colorful and green.
Water for the Future Initiative
Water for the Future is located at Victoria Yards in a former laundry factory in inner-city Johannesburg. The former laundry factory now houses art studios, clinics, creches and vegetable gardens, and more built alongside the Jukskei river. Water for the Future has teamed up with engineers, architects, researchers, and scientists at their headquarters. Together they try to understand what they can do to fix the rivers permanently.
The initiative managed to install a monitoring station and a water quality sampling device last year to achieve its goals. The Campbell Scientific organization and SRK mining consultants helped install all the scientific instruments. These instruments have helped to gauge the quality of river water and the amount of discharge in them. Furthermore, the studies’ results have enabled the initiative to understand further the impacts of illegal sewage connections, high urbanization rates in the city, and collapsed stormwater drains on the rivers.
Adding to the water pollution problems are invasive plants that grow alongside river banks and overflow into the water. Water for the Future has been consulting with experts to understand whether the invasive plants can be used for something else. They have discussed an idea to turn the alien vegetation into biomass that organizations could use to produce heat or electricity. The initiative plans to heal the environment so the young generation to come sees what nature looks like.