Don’t deposit silt in the river

2019-02-12 06:00

When a household in Hiddingh was installing a borehole a few weeks ago, the employed construction company accidentally let the waste flow to a nearby part of the Liesbeek River. This reportedly raised concerns among residents who are worried about silt pollution endangering marine species. The local councillor, Ian Iversen, was also disturbed by the situation, saying it was unacceptable and wondering about the costs of doing damage control.

A local invasive species specialist Phil ‘Dr Fynbos Phil’ McLean, gave some insight into the possible consequences of carelessly discharging silt into the river.

He says it could be devastating for the river and the creatures that live in it, particularly those that must “breathe” in water like fish and invertebrates. “The fine silt clogs their gills which can kill them. The muddy silt also collects in depressions on the stream bed, filling in the micro-habitats that these normal undulations provide as a substrate for aquatic life. Yes, over time – a day or so – the silt will settle out of the main flow so that surviving aquatic life can continue to breathe. But the only way the settled silt or mud can be repaired is when heavy rains cause a rise in normal flow enough to flush the mud and silt from the bottom of the stream. That brings its own problems though as this silt load is then washed out to sea, causing some similar problems there.”

Paula Sellmayer, the owner of the house admits that the waste was discharged into the river by the drillers, causing a stir in the neighbourhood which was then addressed, and authorities assessed the possible damage to the water and assured her that there was no severe damage and the water was clearing fine.


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