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Berg River not such a pretty picture

The Berg River which runs through the beautiful town of Paarl is home to the malachite kingfisher, yellow billed duck, cormorants. But it has also become home to the polystyrene cup, the two-litre cooldrink bottle, shopping bags as well as junk food boxes.

Litter continues to plague the entire world and although many businesses, schools and members of the public seem to be catching on, the war on waste epidemic is a never-ending battle.

Concerned canoeists who often practice on the Berg River in Paarl say it is really important to keep the river clean and it is embarrassing to see how much filth is floating down the river, especially during the Berg Rive Canoe Marathon when canoeists from around the world paddled through Paarl.

Paarl Post recently published a photo of what appears to be a net floating in the river near the Market Street weir, which was trapping a large heap of waste, as proof of the daily rubbish floating down the river.

But no one is taking responsibility to clean the rubbish heap that had formed in the river.

The Drakenstein Municipality referred Paarl Post to the Department of Water and Sanitation. Their spokesperson Ratau Sputnik, said the department is investigating the matter and will make sure that the responsible party or individual implements corrective measures to ensure that debris does not pile up as seen on the photo.

“The party or individual responsible for this will also have to appoint a registered professional to do a Risk Assessment to determine impact of this line or rope,” Sputnik added.

He further said the department encourages the public to report incidents such as these and instances where they witness people doing illegal work within or on the banks of the river to the National Department of Water and Sanitation.

“It’s very frustrating, small clean-ups are done before the Berg marathon, but they still don’t take responsibility,” says a canoeist Paarl Post spoke to, but who wishes to remain anonymous.

She argues that people are not allowed to swim in the river and many are reluctant to pay to swim at municipal swimming pools.

She is also of the opinion that “there should be other third world countries who have the same problem but have managed to solve it, that we can learn from.”

“Concrete bins can also be placed so that even the people living under the bridge, who I can imagine don’t want to live like that, can discard their glass, plastic and other rubbish properly.”

Numerous other complaints have also been received about littering near the Berg River which is an apparent hang-out spot as well.

Some complaints have been about loud noise, music and public drinking.

Gerald Esau of the Drakenstein Municipality said: “While Drakenstein’s annual rugby interschools and derbies promote the region as a sport destination and give Drakenstein an opportunity to celebrate sport excellence, these events also attract more visitors to the towns of Drakenstein.

“Over this period we find that unacceptable and unlawful behaviour such as littering and public drinking intensify, also along the Berg River.”

Esau added that the municipality normally appoints security companies before the start of the December holiday period to patrol the Berg River area, which is frequented by swimmers and holidaymakers.

“Various bylaws are contravened during this time. The security companies are, however, only contracted to perform their work over the festive period.”

“In addition, the municipality’s law enforcement division constantly patrols the area and attends to complaints that are reported officially.

“During the interschools and derbies the municipality also increases clean-up operations in the Berg River area,” he concluded.

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