Saving the natural freshwater system originating in Central Gauteng - an overview and summary of the problems and their possible solutions as treated in the longer papers
The larger proposal is to protect and restore the remaining natural areas mostly near permanent freshwater sources containing abundant Hominin remains representing the most likely areas for the birthplace of our species. Due to its high conservation value and importance in nourishing the early human race to declare the ridges of the Witwatersrand as a Nature Area forming a Birth-source Park around the sources of the rivers originating there; furthermore to protect their outward flow and the connected grasslands of these ancestral waterways as Riverine Nature Sanctuaries forming Wild- life corridors meandering downstream to connect at their base with a large Wild-life Reserve where three of these rivers merge. By extending and securing the boundaries of the new Crocodile River Reserve being formed and protecting this whole area adjoining the Cradle of Humankind as the proposed Birthplace of Humankind, to form a restored area of biodiversity that can then spread out along riparian corridors to repopulate and return naturally diverse life to our threatened Grasslands.
The problems and their solutions- an economical way to revive the whole area`s nature
1. The highly threatened grassland eco-region of the Highveld has been largely transformed by human activity and now exists only in isolated pockets that are not genetically viable to maintain biodiversity, connecting these isolated patchworks of grasslands pieces through protected River Sanctuary Corridors will allow for the migration of animal species forming healthy gene-pools.
2. The rivers originating on the Witwatersrand are highly important to the origin and early history of Humankind they also accurately match the Biblical description of the rivers that watered the Garden of Eden. These rivers are now highly polluted carrying most of the sewerage effluent from the failing Waste Water Treatment Works of Johannesburg and Tshwane that has turned them into lifeless wastelands polluting the whole country and both of our oceans. Mitigating this sewage pollution with natural and biological extensions to these Plants like Wetlands and Bioremediation plants to process raw- sewage properly and return only clean water to the natural freshwater system.
3. The high Watershed of Johannesburg flows to all sides and is the origin of the Crocodile-Limpopo systems while on the other side feeding the Orange-Vaal systems, high levels of raw-sewage pollution from here negatively impacts the health of the whole country. Saving and restoring back to life the origins and headwaters of these rivers will save the major freshwater courses of our country.
4. Most diseases are waterborne and water pollution directly increases the toxicity of our environment, this coupled with an unhealthy modern diet is making our people increasingly subject to degenerative diseases with high incidences of Cancer and Diabetes even in children showing that it is now affecting our genetic structure. Clean healthy drinking quality water in our rivers will boost the health of our environment that people depend on eliminating much suffering with a huge saving on healthcare and productivity leading to healthy happy people in a life-giving environment.
5. The groundwater in the Dolomitic Karst system underlying much of this Cradle area contains large freshwater reserves and is very vulnerable to toxic seepage through porous limestone into the water pockets and can permanently pollute them, destroying borehole drinking water on which many depend. Underground rivers interconnect the system transporting pollutants over a wide area with poisons emerging at far-flung fountains. Clean rivers will heal this dynamic freshwater fountain system holding vast reserves on which our lives may still depend and ensure future water security
6. The Activated Sludge process used in Treatment Works all over is very expensive costing over a billion rand to construct and three million a month to operate using huge amounts of energy- over a million rand a month in electricity alone and the rest on chemicals and maintenance, yet the system is notoriously inefficient and easily disabled through cable theft. It does not treat the sludge waste end product effectively which is mostly buried or ends up dumped in the environment. Worldwide this system is probably the major reason for the destruction of aquatic species and the degradation of our environment. Treatment with Living systems breaks down the waste completely, is much cheaper to construct and operate using little power and contains few parts that can be stolen. Piloting different processes here can help implement techniques to save the environment globally.
7. Utilising Natural Living Systems treatment plants on a smaller scale near development nodes can eliminate the need for high footprint costly destructive larger plants like the one currently planned for Lanseria- inside the conservation area proposed as the Birthplace Park. Set to further destroy an already polluted Jukskei river and be the thin edge of the wedge for industrial developments that will follow in its destructive wake to destroy this sensitive heritage area. This Treatment Work will be a huge drain on finances that could be better spent elsewhere like establishing the Park, the capacity of Northern Farms could rather be increased with another pipe and ecological processing units.
8. The currently shameful state of this priceless freshwater system of central Gauteng can be turned into the City`s greatest natural asset, when cleaned and restored some of the most beautiful natural areas will emerge to form part of a wildlife parkland for people and animals naturally watered with perennial fountain streams in a self- maintaining natural system that will be economical to maintain.
9. Alien species and weeds that are choking up the riverbanks are furthering the large-scale erosion problems leading to massive silting up in some areas. These trees must be removed and replaced with original indigenous species which can provide proper protection for the banks. Job creation in the removal and utilisation of the wood as well as planting and caring will benefit local communities.
10. The looming sixth great extinction underway where Human greed and ignorance is set to make sixty percent of our fellow species extinct can be ameliorated by boosting biodiversity with clean water on which all life depends. A vast amount of habitat can be returned to their rightful owners- all the billions of animals that have been killed off, the original inhabitants of these rivers and their riparian corridors can be returned and protected to boost the health of our whole environment, endangered and Red data listed species can breed again when a clean habitat is returned to them.
11. The threatened and endemic Grasslands can flourish again when its true custodians represented by all the grazing animals are returned to maintain these grasslands each filling a different niche and encouraging the right types of grasses to flourish through selective grazing and fertilising of the veld.
12. Great attractions of worldwide significance for all will be created with the proposed Birth-source and Birthplace of Humankind Parks as well as through the River Sanctuaries making this priceless nature accessible to all. Bringing tranquillity to this densely populated area, and attractions such as Freshwater Aquariums, museums, cultural and art centres boosting tourism and the economy while giving a natural identity as the Twin Fountain Cities of Human Origin to Johannesburg and Tshwane.