The Environmental problems with the Hennops River are massive and complex. The problems have been developing over the last 50 years, as urbanisation along the river has increased. Two tributaries, the Sesmylspruit and Kaalspruit/Olifantspruit, join together to form headwaters of the Hennops River. The Hennops River and the Jukskei River join the Crocodile River which feeds into the Hartbeespoort Dam.

What happens at the headwaters of the Hennops River affects all of the water resources downstream. While the Sesmylspruit (which comes from Rietvlei Dam) is relatively clean, pollution in the Kaalspruit has become more and more of a problem with extensive urbanisation, both in terms of formal, informal and industrial townships polluting and increasing the flow in the river.

The main problems in the Kaalspruit are:

  • High E.coli Counts and Conductivity
  • Solid Waste (Litter)
  • Erosion
  • Sedimentation

E.coli counts in regions are in the hundreds of thousands, and in some places, in the millions. An acceptable level is less than 200 mg/l. The extremely high levels of E.coli in the Hennops River system pose serious threats to public health. The main contributing factors to the high E.coli counts are wastewater flowing into the river and over-flowing sewers caused by misuse and vandalism. Foam can be seen where the water is turbulent, for example at a weir. This foam is attributed to sewerage and wastewater.

  • The Conductivity in regions is in the thousands. Conductivity is an indication of excess salts, which is an indication of industrial pollution.
  • Litter finds its way into the stormwater system and is washed into the river when it rains.
  • Erosion is caused by stormwater, illegal sand mining of river banks and damaged river systems.
  • The eroded sand is deposited downstream by siltation and has completely destroyed the Centurion Lake.


  • Littering
  • Poor or no solid waste removal
  • Illegal waste sites
  • Illegal dumping of building rubble in the floodplain
  • Ill-managed storm water system
  • Flooding
  • Sewage overflows 
  • Ill-managed sewer systems
  • Polluted water
  • Erosion of river banks
  • Erosion of the Olifantsfontein Wetland
  • Invader plants
  • No community involvement



  • Community-based programmes and awareness campaigns to reduce littering and overflowing sewerage through waste collection, recycling, open space maintenance and blocked sewer reporting system
  • Construction and maintenance of nature parks in Tembisa and Ivory Park
  • Litter collection next to stormwater channels and streams
  • Cleaning the river banks and floodplains
  • Recycling


  • Collecting litter
  • Remove building rubble and prevent further dumping
  • Implement flood attenuation measures
  • Ongoing maintenance of sewage system and efficient response to sewage blockages
  • Address stormwater management
  • Ensure that no pollution occurs at industries and filling stations
  • Construct Litter traps & Silt traps
  • Preventative measures: Rehabilitate river banks, Develop parks, Construct Wetlands


  • Recycling
  • Ownership of parks
  • Report overflowing manholes
  • Awareness campaigns
  • School competitions- recycling, beautify area around schools
  • NGO’s


  • Department of  Water and Sanitation
  • Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Department of Environmental Affairs
  • City of Johannesburg
  • City of Tshwane
  • Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality
  • Community representatives
  • Working for Wetlands
  • Concerned citizens/ property  owners


  • Check that your stormwater plumbing is not connected to the sewer system.
  • Don’t use the toilet as a trash can! Never flush diapers, dental floss, personal sanitary products, newspapers, soiled rags, food, garbage or paper towels down toilets or drains. These items cause blockages and sewer leaks.
  • Do not flush fats, oils or other dangerous chemicals down the sink or toilet.


The stormwater system is not a waste removal system. Anything thrown into the stormwater system ends up in our rivers. Do not throw waste or garden refuse (e.g. leaves) into the stormwater drains.



  • Recycle your rubbish.
  • Don’t litter – litter is washed into rivers
  • Plastics are the main source of solid waste in the Hennops. Reducing the amount of plastic that we use reduces the amount that gets back into the environment and our rivers:
  • Use a metal or glass water bottle instead of plastic bottles.
  • Use a reusable coffee mug for takeaway coffees.
  • Buy products in recycled and biodegradable packing.
  • Introduce biodegradable packing in your industries.
  • Buy biodegradable and organic cleaning and beauty products.
  • Say no to single-use plastics.
  • Use material shopping bags instead of plastic shopping bags.
  • Say no to plastic straws or buy metal straws that can be reused.



  • When washing your hands turn the tap off when lathering.
  • Brush your teeth with the tap off.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Check your toilet for leaks.
  • Collect running water from your taps when waiting for it to heat and use this water for plants.
  • Check your sprinkler system regularly, so that water is reaching the plants and not being wasted on paving.
  • Make sure the sprinkler system is turned off during the rainy season.
  • Check the garden is watered early in the morning or at night to prevent evaporation.
  • Avoid washing dishes or going to the bathroom in or near a river or ocean.
  • Check taps for leaks.
  • Fill a basin to rinse dishes rather than allowing the water to run down the drain when rinsing.