Cleaning up the Braamfontein Spruit

Spruit 1Residents’ associations like the the Blairgowrie and Craighall Residents’ Association (senior members pictured above) were the driving force behind the successful clean-up project

In an effort to clear the beautiful Braamfontein Spruit and its surrounding areas of unsightly litter and alien vegetation, a number of residents’ associations from the surrounding suburbs banded together with corporations like the Glass Recycling Company to make a clean and clear spruit a reality.

The massive clean-up took place on Saturday 7 June along the banks of the Braamfontein Spruit with the Florence Bloom Bird Sanctuary at Delta Park serving as a central hub.

The winter chill was not enough to deter the hundreds of people who made their way down to the spruit to participate in what was to become a fun day out for all.

ORGANISING THE BRAAMFONTEIN SPRUIT CLEAN-UP

When Natalie Zimmelman took over the environmental portfolio of the Parkhurst Residents and Business Owners Association in 2013 she decided it would be great to get the community to play a bigger part in keeping the spruit clean.

What she pictured at first was a clean-up of a small section of the spruit; instead her efforts led to all the surrounding communities coming together to take responsibility for the cleanliness of their environment.

“I thought, instead of just doing things for my community, wouldn’t it be fantastic if all the communities who are already active along the spruit came out on one day to create greater awareness,” Zimmelman explained.

“From that we had participation from bodies like the Junior City Council, Miss Earth and Greenpeace and obviously we’ve got the youth out here through the scout clubs and the like.”

News of her efforts attracted sponsors such as Imperial Green Motion, Penny Black and Chillibean Studios. Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo, Pikitup, ER 24, and schools and youth organisations also assisted with the clean-up.

Steffani Alexander, a semi-finalist for Miss Earth South Africa, said the event gave her an opportunity to take an active role in cleaning up part of her community.

She said, “For us, today was basically about acknowledging and building awareness about the environment as well as action. So as Miss Earth Ambassadors we’re actively getting involved and help moving towards a healthy and sustainable environment.”

The Glass Recycling Company provided wheelie bins to collect all glass picked up during the clean-up.

Kate Haupt, public relations officer for the Glass Recycling Company, said “When we heard about the Spruit Clean-up we thought that this would be a good opportunity for us to show our support and spread the word about the importance and benefits of recycling.”

Zimmelman added, “I live in a very beautiful city, but I don’t want to live in concrete alone; if communities don’t step up and involve themselves, they can’t then complain about the state of their community; the municipality only has so much resources.

“So for me it’s about creating a sense of our own community, our own village and our own city as well as sharing our responsibility and our part in it.

“So I guess I’m an activist.”

Spruit 6The spruit is essentially a tributary of the Limpopo River and has been subject to numerous developments near its banks, The clean-up has gone a long way towards tackling the problem of polution in the stream

ABOUT THE BRAAMFONTEIN SPRUIT

With its origins deep within the inner city, the Braamfontein Spruit runs through a series of canals through town and along Empire Road before reaching the Frank Brown Park and emerging in the Parkview Golf Course.

The Westdene Spruit, feeding into the Westdene and Emmerentia dams, merges with the Braamfontein Spruit before running through the suburbs of Parkhurst, Blairgowrie and Craighall Park and on towards Paulshof in the north of Johannesburg, where it is flanked by mountain bike trails and parks.

The spruit is essentially a tributary of the Limpopo River and has been subject to development near its banks, which in turn has led to waste finding its way into the stream. This is both unsightly and a threat to the stream’s natural inhabitants. The clean-up has gone a long way towards tackling this problem.